Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2011TX391B

Cotton-Biofuels Production Systems in a Changing High Plains Environment

Institute: Texas
Year Established: 2011 Start Date: 2011-03-01 End Date: 2012-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $10,035

Principal Investigators: Cora Lea Emerson, Dick Auld

Abstract: Water-level decline in the Ogallala Aquifer, the principal groundwater source for the Texas High Plains, is due primarily to withdrawals for irrigated agriculture (McGuire, 2007). As water use issues in this region become ever more critical, it is our hypothesis that, while cotton production will continue to be a mainstay of the High Plains economy, agricultural production systems will shift to incorporate more drought tolerant (deep-rooted) crops. The concern over declining water tables, coupled with other issues, such as Texas’ evolving water policy aimed at conserving groundwater, elevated cotton disease pressures, and amplified interest in biofuels crops will surely impact production decisions. A field experiment will be conducted at the Texas AgriLife Research Center in Halfway, TX. This location is suitable for large plot, irrigated studies. Crop rotations will be initiated on a 14.2-ha area irrigated with a pivot LEPA system. Changes in volumetric soil water content due to cultivar, crop sequence, and irrigation level will be determined from each sub-plot over the course of the study. Representative samples will be harvested and yield/quality of all crops determined. Water input and yield will be used to determine water use efficiency and economic value of treatments will be compared.