AMARILLO – The Water Conservation Advisory Council recognized the 2012 winners of the Save Texas Water Blue Legacy Award in Agriculture during the annual Texas Commodity Symposium Nov. 28 at the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show.
The Blue Legacy Award in Agriculture is an annual award recognizing outstanding water conservation efforts and successes by the agriculture community. Winners are selected based on their demonstrated willingness and commitment to incorporate water conservation practices into their operations, as well as their leadership in furthering water conservation in their communities or within the industry, according to the award announcement.
Two groups involving Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service personnel were among those recognized. They were the Ogallala Aquifer Program and the AgriLife Extension–Panhandle District 1 2011 North Plains Corn Irrigation Demonstration Project: Efficient Profitable Irrigation in Corn, or EPIC.
EPIC includes project members Nich Kenny, AgriLife Extension irrigation specialist in Amarillo; and AgriLife Extension county agents Scott Strawn, Ochiltree County; J.R. Sprague, Lipscomb County; Marcel Fischbacher, Moore County; Michael Bragg, Dallam/Hartley counties; Kristy Synatschk, Hutchinson County; and Brad Easterling, Sherman County.
EPIC is a demonstration effort conducted by AgriLife Extension and funded primarily by the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, Kenny said. It is designed to address the adoption of improved irrigation management strategies to increase water-use efficiency, crop productivity and production profitability.
He said EPIC’s approach utilizes two side-by-side field plots – one plot as a control and management of irrigation on the experimental plot – to meet two objectives: maintain or improve yield as compared to the control and reduce pumped irrigation water by 1 to 4 inches.
From the preliminary results the implication is that grain corn yields can be maintained or increased with a reduction in applied irrigation water, he said. To further develop this concept and verify early results, the EPIC program will be continued through 2014.
The Ogallala Aquifer Program, a university and federal agency research-education consortium, was created by Congress in 2003 to find solutions to problems arising from declining water levels in the High Plains aquifer, according to Dr. David Brauer, research agronomist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service at Bushland and manager of the program.
Brauer said the program includes approximately 80 state and federal scientists from the Agricultural Research Service, Kansas State University, AgriLife Research, AgriLife Extension, Texas Tech University and West Texas A&M University.
Dr. Kevin Wagner, the Texas Water Resources Institute’s associate director and Texas A&M’s representative on the program’s leadership team, said the Blue Legacy Award annually recognizes outstanding water conservation efforts and successes of the agriculture community.
“For the Ogallala Aquifer Program to win this award illustrates the progress and achievements that have been made in promoting water conservation while helping to maintain or improve the profitability of farming and the prosperity of farming communities in the Texas High Plains,” Wagner said. “The institute is proud to support the Texas A&M AgriLife researchers and Extension specialists involved in this important program.”
AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension personnel at Amarillo, Vernon and Lubbock extensively involved in the Ogallala Aquifer Program include Dr. Steve Amosson, Dr. Jim Bordovsky, Dr. Ken Casey, Dr. Paul DeLaune, Nicholas Kenny, Dr. Shuyu Liu, Thomas Marek, Dr. Jaroy Moore, Dr. Seong Park, Dr. David Pointer, Dr. Dana Porter, Dr. Pat Porter, Dr. Nithya Rajan, Dr. Charlie Rush and Dr. Qingwu Xue.
The Council also recognized the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation and the Robert Meyer Farms with Blue Legacy Awards at the ceremonies.