Regenerative Agriculture Assessment Starts in Texas and Oklahoma | Cultures

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From carbon sequestration to greenhouse gas emissions to cover crops, this fall a team of professors from Texas A&M AgriLife and others will begin to assess the impacts of regenerative agriculture in semi-ecoregions. -arids of Texas and Oklahoma.






Soil carbon capture and greenhouse gas emissions will be measured in the field in the study on sustainable agriculture. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Katie Lewis.)


The team led by Texas A&M AgriLife aims to better understand and encourage widespread adoption of regenerative practices that increase agricultural production and profitability while reducing the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Katie Lewis, Ph.D., Texas A&M AgriLife Research soil specialist, Lubbock, who will lead the project, said the relationships between soil health and the implementation of regenerative practices, crop production, climate change and the regional economy are complex and poorly understood, particularly in the Southern Great Plains.

Without this understanding, the adoption of regenerative practices in the region and in similar ecoregions will remain limited. This will increase the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change and continued depletion of water resources while missing opportunities for carbon sequestration, improved agricultural production and greater agricultural resilience.

The five-year project “Intensifying and Improving Sustainable Agriculture through the Use of Regenerative Farm Management Practices” was funded by a $ 10 million grant from the National Food and Agriculture Institute. agriculture of the United States Department of Agriculture.

“What’s so exciting about this research is that this will be the first regenerative agriculture project to cover this vast area in both Texas and Oklahoma,” Lewis said. “With carbon being such a hot topic, we want to take a closer look at carbon sequestration – what is captured and what is lost through greenhouse gas emissions. “

Region-specific research to address semi-arid problems

Many times, talking about cover crops or regenerative agriculture in the United States refers to areas receiving 40 to 50 inches of rain per year. This amount of rain is not what typically occurs in Texas and Oklahoma, one of the nation’s largest cotton and cattle producing areas.

But little research has been done to better understand how regenerative farming practices, when integrated into a larger production system, work under the varying rainfall in these regions.

“We want this to be as real as possible,” Lewis said. “There is so much information that is not adapted to our regions. This project will lead to the optimization of practices for semi-arid regions which will result in profitable and sustainable practices.

The team’s approach will examine not only a practice in isolation, but the entire agricultural production system which includes cover crops, crop rotations, grazing and other management techniques that may work in a farm situation. per farm.

“Long-term region-specific research, particularly in semi-arid regions, is needed to better understand regeneration practices and the effects on soil health and water use in cotton agroecosystems” Lewis said.

Determining the means to mitigate crop risks as well as to protect the environment and natural resources are among the main objectives of the project. The project includes short, medium and long term objectives, which will allow continuous improvement even after the end of the project.

“We plan to identify immediate challenges on the ground and reduce the risk associated with change in farming practices,” Lewis said. “This is nothing more than year-to-year changes in agriculture, but helping to mitigate this risk is one of our primary goals as well as protecting the environment and natural resources. . “

More than just a research project

Just as important as determining the most efficient farming practices, Lewis said, is the need for more awareness and education for producers and landowners in these areas. Part of the project is a careful examination of how producers interpret the information presented by the team.

“It’s not just a research-based project,” Lewis said. “It includes research, extension, education – there is so much disinformation that is published and available to the general public. “

Achieving the project’s short, medium and long term goals involves working directly with producers, she said, but it also includes reaching out to students and consumers.

“We wanted to be able to start young with our college age students and the general public and let them make more informed decisions about things that impact farmers and rural communities.”

The team’s approach to extension and education will go beyond that of many traditional projects, which rely on field days, workshops and farmers asking specific questions when they encounter a problem. .

“We’re going to take a hands-on approach with creating a soil control program that will allow farmers to see results on their farm,” Lewis said. “It will be much more personal, and we can talk to them farm by farm.

In addition, undergraduate and graduate courses will be implemented in Regenerative Agriculture at Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, and West Texas A&M University using data collected at from this research.

Conduct research, education and awareness

Within the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the project will include team members from the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences, the Department of Agricultural Economics, the Department of Animal Sciences and the Department of Biological Engineering and agriculture, as well as the Texas Water Resources Institute. In addition to the flagship Texas A&M campus, these individuals are located at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Centers in Lubbock, Amarillo, Vernon and Overton and represent AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

In addition, team members represent the Soil Health Institute, Morrisville, NC; Texas Tech University, Lubbock; West Texas A&M University, Canyon; Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, and Oklahoma Panhandle Research and Extension Center, Goodwell; and the Office of Education, Innovation and Assessment, Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas.

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