Grant Projects

Grant Projects

Water Conservation on the High Plains

A Collection of SSARE-funded Research

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Southern SARE has funded nearly $1.5 million in grants, including Large Systems Grants, Research & Education Grants, and Graduate Student Grants to showcase long-term alternative production systems across the Texas High Plains, and how those results are being translated into practical field production practices and sustainable agriculture applications. The following collection of research results highlights those on-going efforts from Texas Tech University, Texas Coalition for Sustainable Integrated Systems (TeCSIS), Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC), and their many partners, based on nearly two decades of SSARE-funded grants.

One can’t talk about agriculture in the Texas High Plains without including “water” in the same sentence. The Ogallala Aquifer, which has kept ag production humming for nearly a century, is running dry. The Texas Panhandle and Southern Plain are at a crisis point. This model of sustainable agroecosystems in the Texas High Plains is changing the face of agriculture in the region and helping to conserve water, improve soil health, boost ag profits and keep the High Plains region thriving for generations to come.

Research & Education Grants

Southern SARE Research & Education Grants are conducted by teams of interdisciplinary researchers specializing in sustainable agricultural systems.

LS97-082 Sustainable Crop/Livestock Systems in the Texas High Plains -- The research that started it all. The initial years of research found that grazing stocker steers on perennial warm-season grass pastures and on small grains in rotation with cotton required 20 percent less irrigation water, 40 percent less nitrogen, fewer pesticide inputs, provided more flexibility in marketable products with higher net cash returns/acre, than growing cotton in monoculture.

LS02-131 Forage and Livestock Systems for Sustainable High Plains Agriculture -- A continuation of research started under LS97-082. In this project, additional crop-livestock systems were added that focused on dryland systems and perennial grasses. In addition, results of the research helped secure funding from the Texas Water Development Board to create the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC) -- an outreach component of the effort that allows producers to field test the systems.

LS08-202 Crop-Livestock Systems for Sustainable High Plains Agriculture -- The third phase of the project that included additional grazing systems and ongoing data collection of previous grant-funded research.

LS10-229 Integrated Crop and Livestock Systems for Enhanced Soil Carbon Sequestration and Microbial Diversity in the Semi-arid Texas High Plains -- Research conducted to determine the effects in integrated crop-livestock systems on soil microbial community composition, carbon sequestration potential, and global warming potential in the Texas High Plains.

Large Systems Grants

Southern SARE Large Systems Grants are for systems research teams who have successful ongoing long-term systems research programs, but need support to accomplish additional long-term research goals.

LS11-238 Long-term Agroecosystems Research and Adoption in the Texas Southern High Plains: Phase I -- The overall objective of the project was to understand the biological, environmental, social, economic, and policy issues impacting agricultural sustainability in the Southern High Plains; and translate research into adoption of more sustainable practices. 

LS14-261 Long-term Agroecosystems Research and Adoption in the Texas Southern High Plains: Phase II -- The project supports the maintenance of long-term field research sites at the Texas Tech University New Deal Farm in support of long-term sustainability objectives pertaining to the integration of forages and livestock into a predominant row-crop region.

LS17-286 Long-term Agroecosystems Research and Adoption in the Texas Southern High Plains: Phase III -- The project supports the maintenance of long-term field research sites at the Texas Tech University New Deal Farm in support of long-term sustainability objectives pertaining to the integration of forages and livestock into a predominant row-crop region.

Graduate Student Grants

Southern SARE Graduate Student Grants are for Master's and PhD students at accredited institutions across the Southern region who are interested in conducting sustainable agriculture research.

GS02-012 Optimizing Water Use for Three Old World Bluestems in the Texas High Plains -- A study evaluating the comparative water use efficiencies of old world bluestem varieties.

GS07-056 Allelopathic Effects of Small Grain Cover Crops on Cotton Plant Growth and Yields -- The overall objective of the project was to identify the cause of small grain cover crop suppression on the growth of rye and cotton, and to alleviate this suppression through grazing management and/or selection of small grain species and varieties that minimize this effect.

GS15-152 Evaluation of Winter Annual Cover Crops Under Multiple Residue Management: Impacts on land management, soil water depletion, and cash crop productivity -- Benefits of cover crops for nutrient retention and erosion control are well recognized, but adoption has been slow because of concerns that cover crops withdraw soil water to the detriment of the summer cash crop. This small-plot experiment tests the interacting effects of irrigation and tillage management techniques with five cover-crop species on soil water depletion and productivity of the cover and subsequent summer forage crop.

GS18-196 Effects of Cumulative Cattle Trampling on Soil Bulk Density and Infiltration of Rain Water on an Annual Forage Crop Pasture -- The purpose of this project is to quantify the effects of trampling on possible cumulative bulk density on no-till warm-season annual pastures.

Published by the Southern Region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. Funded by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Southern SARE operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Georgia, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture to offer competitive grants to advance sustainable agriculture in America's Southern region. This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, through Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, under sub-award numbers: LS97-082, LS02-131, LS08-202, LS10-229, LS11-238, LS14-261, LS17-286, GS02-012, GS07-056, GS15-152 and GS18-196. USDA is an equal opportunity employer and service provider. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.