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TAWC recognized with major American Water Resources Association award

TAWC recognized with major American Water Resources Association award

The Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, a research project made up of producers, industries, universities, and government agencies, has received the American Water Resources Association’s ‘Integrated Water Resources Management Award.’  The award will be presented at the group’s annual conference in November in Portland.

“This is the second year that the award has been in existence, and the first agriculture-focused project to be recognized for the award,” said David Doerfert, associate chair and professor with Texas Tech’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communications.

The Texas Alliance for Water Conservation began in 2005 and was made possible by a grant from the Texas Water Development Board. The project uses on-farm demonstrations of cropping and livestock systems to compare the production practices, technologies, and systems that can maintain individual farm profitability while improving water use efficiency with a goal of extending the life of the Ogallala Aquifer while maintaining the viability of local farms and communities.

Approximately 30 farms encompassing 4,500 acres through Hale and Floyd County demonstrate key comparisons of many production systems currently found in the Texas High Plains. These include monoculture cropping systems, crop rotations, no-till and conventional tillage practices, land application of dairy manure, and fully integrated crop and livestock systems. All production-related decisions are made by the more than 20 producers involved in the TAWC project.

Through the partnerships among area producers, industries, universities and government agencies, on-farm demonstrations of cropping and livestock systems are compared to determine the best practices, technologies and systems for improved water conservation and profitability to extend the life of the Ogallala Aquifer. The field sites demonstrate key comparisons that range from monoculture cropping systems to fully integrated crop/livestock/ forage systems.

Irrigation strategies include dry land production, center-pivot, and subsurface drip irrigation including emerging variable rate technologies., said TAWC Project Manager Rick Kellison. Each site is equipped with instruments to determine total water extracted from the aquifer, rainfall, temperature, solar radiation, timing and amount of irrigation events and soil moisture.

Over the past eight-year period, these systems were intensely monitored and compared for total irrigation water use and water use efficiency, crop and livestock productivity and profitability, total input requirements, and impact on natural resources including soil quality and erosion potential and wildlife habitat, he said. These observations have been compiled into a unique dataset that encompass all aspects of farm level management.

From this, a number of major accomplishments have been realized that include the development of decision tools for farmers, field-based testing of emerging technologies and genetics, and sharing of best practices and research results with farmers and ranchers throughout the region, Kellison said. Over the years, the project has expanded beyond Hale and Floyd counties increasing the reach of the demonstration project throughout West Texas.

Founded in 1964, the American Water Resources Association is a non-profit professional association dedicated to the advancement of men and women in water resources management, research and education. Its 2,500 members include engineers, educators, foresters, biologists, ecologists, geographers, managers, regulators, hydrologists and attorneys.

Written by Norman Martin

CONTACT: Michael Galyean, Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or michael.galyean@ttu.edu

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