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Map It; On the road to Texas Tech’s Research Farm at New Deal

image image The Texas Tech Research Farm at New Deal has approximately 120 acres that support the crop production research for Tech’s Department of Plant and Soil Science. Nearly half of this area is used by Vivien Allen, Tech’s Thornton Distinguished Professor of Plant Science.

Allen is part of a leadership team that has spent more than a decade taking a close look at how West Texas producers farm and how farming affects the environment. The shared goal among several agencies and producer groups is finding methods that would keep agriculture profitable for producers and preserve natural resources.

TeCSIS Research Project. The Texas Coalition for Sustainable Integrated Systems (TeCSIS) research project compares the traditional cotton-only – or monoculture – farming system with one that combines cotton, grain crops, grass seed and livestock production.

The group of researchers established TeCSIS with a $222,125 grant in 1997 from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. The project began on about 35 acres at the Texas Tech Research Farm at New Deal and expanded to more than 100 acres through two additional USDA-SARE grants.

Phase One to Three. Including investments from Texas Tech, industry, state and community, TeCSIS received more than $1.8 million for equipment and supplies. From those grants, three phases were established to determine the profitability, productivity and environmental impact of various agriculture systems.

Phase I consisted of cotton monoculture and an integrated cotton/forage/livestock system. Phase II, in its sixth year, compares cotton monoculture with a dryland integrated cotton/forage/livestock system and an all-forage system for stocker steers. Phase III started this year and added an integrated crop/forage-finished beef cattle system and a forage sorghum monoculture to the project. Both systems use sub-surface drip irrigation and dryland components.

By The Numbers. The remaining area at the New Deal research farm supports research on irrigation management, cotton physiology, cotton stress tolerance, weed science, soil fertility and forage physiology. It is located on FM 1729, about 6 miles east of the town of New Deal, and a 20-minute drive from the Texas Tech campus. The farm has an elevation is 3,262 feet, and an average annual rainfall is 18.6 in.

The facility is irrigated with subsurface drip irrigation systems supported by two wells. The newest installation of subsurface drip irrigation includes more than 30 zones that can be irrigated independently. The farm is dominated by Pullman clay loam soil, which is typical of the fine-textured soils found from Lubbock to Amarillo.

CONTACT: Thomas Thompson, professor and chairman, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or thomas.thompson@ttu.edu

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