Agronomic Management for Improved Crop Production on the Texas High Plains
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On the Texas High Plains, the decline in the saturated thickness of the Ogallala Aquifer necessitates improvements in agronomic management at the farm level in conjunction with strategic planning of groundwater resources. With the rise of irrigation during the 20th century, producers maximized yields with irrigation, oftentimes in excess of crop water demand. However, regional groundwater levels have declined to levels where many producers are unable to meet the seasonal water requirements of intensively irrigated crops such as corn. While declining well capacities signify the increased importance of irrigation management for crops with intensive water requirements, declining well capacities will also result in reductions in corn acreage and a shift in crop selection. As agronomic practices shift from fully-irrigated crop production, rural economies will sustain significant economic losses through reductions in agronomic production and associated indirect revenues. Changes in crop selection and rotational planning will be implemented by an increasing number of producers and necessitate improvements in agronomic management to enhance the production and profitability with less water consumptive crops such as sorghum (grain and forage), wheat, and cotton integrated with corn systems in the Texas High Plains.