Long-term AgroEcosystems Research and Adoption in the Texas Southern High Plains – Phase II

Final report for LS14-261

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2014: $300,000.00
Projected End Date: 02/18/2018
Grant Recipient: Texas Tech University
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Charles West
Texas Tech University
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Project Information


This project funds the maintenance of the long-term field site at the Texas Tech New Deal Research Station in support of sustainability objectives pertaining to the integration of forages and livestock into a predominant row-crop region. Doctoral research was finished on analysis of legume composition and responses of cattle growth and water-use efficiency of Old World bluestem (OWB) ‘WW-B.Dahl’ growing alone or with legume (mainly alfalfa). Other doctoral research continued on 1) growth analysis and calibration of a computer model of Old World bluestem (OWB) ‘WW-B.Dahl’, 2) relation between OWB and insects in pastures and on cattle, 3) introduction of alfalfa into dryland native pastures, and 4) the impact of winter cover crops and tillage on water response of a summer grass (teff). In the finished grazing trial, averaged over 2014-2016, rate of weight gain of steers was 1.74 lbs/day in the grass-alone system and 2.06 lbs/day in the grass-legume system, and gain per area was 118 lbs/acre and 188 lbs/acre, respectively, over 4 months. We expressed efficiency of water use for steer weight gain as a ‘water footprint’ to put emphasis on water input per unit of beef liveweight gain. The water footprint (groundwater used/lb of gain) was 287 gal/lb on the grass-legume system and 395 gal/lb on the grass-alone system, when considering grazing only (not hay production). Fly density on steers tended to be lower when grazing OWB alone compared with bluestem-alfalfa mixtures, but not significantly so on any one date. Fire ants and harvester ants were strongly deterred from pastures containing OWB and were most numerous in the native-grass pastures (containing mostly blue grama and sideoats grama). Beneficial pollinators were not deterred by the presence of OWB. The computer models ALMANAC and APSIM were greatly improved in modeling growth of OWB, which will make them useful for predicting effects of drought on pasture supply. We established alfalfa into four out of six native-grass pastures despite major dry periods, in the initiation of a multi-year trial to test the longevity of this method of improving the nutritional quality of native pastures. A major field day was held in 2015 demonstrating improvements in soil health, pasture establishment, integration of low-water-input grazing into cropping systems, and dryland pasture options, and a smaller field tour was organized in 2017 (but rained out on two attempts). We continued to integrate our efforts with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation to broaden the impact of grassland water use efficiency.

Project Objectives:

The overall objectives of crop-livestock research and demonstration projects at Texas Tech University are to (1) understand the biological, environmental, social, economic, and policy issues impacting agricultural sustainability in the Southern High Plains, and (2) to translate research into adoption of more sustainable practices. The Large-Systems SARE grant contributes a critical piece of this effort by funding the maintenance of the long-term field research site at the New Deal Research Station, which is the basic platform for our collaborative research and education efforts. The research arm of our effort (Texas Coalition for Sustainable Integrated Systems, TeCSIS) focuses on the integration of forage-based beef production into the region’s predominantly row-crop agriculture as a means of reducing water extraction from the Ogallala Aquifer, building soil organic matter, stabilizing soil from wind erosion, and diversifying income. The outreach arm of our effort (Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, TAWC) partners with 20-30 producers to demonstrate improved irrigation practices on 30-34 fields in over 9 counties in the South Plains. TAWC produces field days, field walks, an annual Water College, radio and TV reports, Twitter and Facebook messages, e-newsletters, and web-based management tools to reach a diverse rural and urban populace on using practical technologies to sustain agriculture and communities. Research at the New Deal Research Station is a source of information pertaining to grazing systems that help meet producers’ goals of stretching water supplies and reverting cropland to perennial grasses in ways that meet their economic goals.

We visualize the following trends in Southern High Plains agriculture in the coming decades in the context of transitioning to low-irrigation management: (1) fewer acres of irrigation overall and increased acres of limited-acreage high-value crops, (2) continual improvements in water use efficiency of major row crops such as cotton and corn, (3) partial replacement of irrigated row crops with perennial grasses and legumes and with dryland crops, (4) greater use of precision water management technologies such as ultra-low and variable-rate irrigation, (5) greater dependence on online decision aides for guiding inputs, and (6) warmer temperatures leading to greater evaporative demand and more droughts. These trends will require constant testing of forage systems across the range of weather conditions experienced to offer options to landowners on how to maintain profitability. The benefit of long-term support by Southern SARE has been the sharing with local producers a growing knowledge pool of how climate, soil, crops, and cattle production interact in using the key limiting resource of water.


Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Philip Brown (Researcher)
  • Rick Kellison - Producer (Educator)


Materials and methods:

The basic steer grazing trial of 2014-2016 compared a grass-only system consisting of OWB receiving N fertilizer (60 lbs./acre in spring) to an alternative (hypothetically more sustainable) grass-legume system for animal productivity and water use efficiency. These pastures were used as field laboratories for graduate student research on water use efficiency of cattle production, nondestructive methods of measuring ground cover, legume composition and forage availability, populations of invertebrates and soil microbes, modeling of grass growth, and improving quality of native grass pastures by introducing alfalfa. Total precipitation at the New Deal Research Station in the final year, Nov. 2015-Oct. 2016 (our cropping year), was 15.2 in. (long-term average is 18.5 in.), and April-September (pasture growing season) precipitation was 12.1 in. (average is 13.2 in.). We normally target maximum irrigation levels in April-September to not exceed 9 in. for the OWB pastures, with or without alfalfa, and 12 in. for alfalfa-tall wheatgrass pastures. The grass-legume system would receive a weighted (by relative area) value of 9.9 in. of irrigation. Averaged over the 3 years, we actually applied 8.0 in. to grass-alone and 6.9 in. to grass-legume. Detailed methods of the pasture layout and cattle trials are published in Baxter et al. 2017c and 2017d in Crop Science 2017 Vol. 57(4).

Research results and discussion:

Two of the main milestones reached were: 1) completion of a 3-year grazing trial comparing a grass-legume with a grass-alone (with N fertilize) system, showing fast weight gains in steers grazing the mixed system featuring an alfalfa-dominant protein bank, at low water input. 2) We demonstrated a lower water footprint for beef production (volume of water input/lb. of beef liveweight gain) for the grass-legume system, and related that to improve forage nutritive value. Such information favors the vision of grazed forages offering a water-efficient alternative to highly irrigated row crops as the Ogallala Aquifer decline further limits irrigation. These and other accomplishments are detailed below.

Cattle productivity responses showed that average daily gain was 1.74 lbs. for grass-alone and 2.06 lbs. for grass-legume systems (means of 3 years). Season-long weight gain per acre was 118 lbs. for grass-alone vs. 188 lbs. for grass-legume. Concerning the annual amounts of irrigation, the 9 and 12-in. targets were reasonable and easy to attain if grazing-season rainfall is a little less than average (as in 2016) or above average (as in 2014 and 2015 when seasonal rainfall was 7 in. above average, however quite poorly distributed). For context in the regional agricultural setting, the amount of irrigation applied annually to cotton averages around 12 in. and for corn around 18 in. (using TAWC data from 30 field sites averaged over 11 years). Our realization of 7-8 in. of irrigation indicates progress in providing a viable land-use option for cropland whose irrigation systems can no longer provide irrigation at high yield levels. These forages also provide an income source from fields transitioning to dryland (non-irrigated) or ultra-low irrigation management (up to 6 in. per year), and a new role for alfalfa as a high-quality forage to provide protein as it complements the lower quality warm-season grasses.

The grass-legume system employed two innovations to test the hypothesis that including legumes with drought-tolerant grasses can improve animal productivity at low water input. They were 1) alfalfa and yellow sweetclover introduced into OWB, and 2) a limited acreage “protein bank” consisting of mostly alfalfa and which was rotationally grazed for rarely more than 2 days per week. Its purpose was to target a limited water supply to a high-protein pasture, to serve as a living protein supplement, and thereby relieve the most serious limiting factor to animal productivity on warm-season pastures. A novel feature of using alfalfa is that it is normally considered a high-water-use crop. That is true when managed as a hay crop when pushed to its high yield potential. However, the other face of alfalfa is of a very deep-rooted, drought-resilient plant which can lay dormant during dry summers and recover after periodic rains. The soils of the Texas High Plains are deep and calcareous, which favors strong root mass and drought tolerance. The protein content of the OWB and most other warm-season grasses typically runs less than the needs of growing cattle in summer, such that offering a minority portion of the diet as a high-protein legume forage can significantly boost liveweight gain with little or no increase in irrigation over the already-low-irrigated warm-season grasses.

The principal forage quality component that explained the greater productivity of steers on the grass-legume system was that it averaged 14.4% crude protein content vs. only 7.0% for grass-alone. The take-home message is that boosting forage quality while keeping water inputs low boosts the sustainability of water use in a beef grazing system. This linkage between forage quality and efficiency of water use is a novel contribution of this research.

To further test the hypothesis that using legumes improves sustainability, we calculated the ‘water footprint’ (part of Lisa Baxter’s PhD research). This is a method of measuring the water input (or use) per unit of product output, in this case as gallons per pound of liveweight gain. This is the arithmetic reciprocal of the normal way of expressing water use efficiency (pounds of production/unit of water used). Water footprint is analogous to carbon footprint and puts emphasis on reducing the amount of a limited resource (water) inherent in producing a unit of agricultural product. In this trial, the water footprint of the grass-legume system was 2632 gal./lb. of gain vs. 3947 gal./lb. of gain for grass-alone, when including precipitation in the calculation. When only including the pumped groundwater, the comparison was 287 vs 395 gal./lb. of gain, respectively. This research revealed that it took around 30% less water to produce a pound of beef liveweight gain when adding legumes (primarily alfalfa) to the pasture system, despite the negative reputation of alfalfa as a water-wasting crop. The reasons for this advantage are that 1) the enhanced nutritive value of the legumes meant that some water was used to produce forage that relieved key nutrient deficiencies (protein and digestible energy) occurring in the grass-alone system, and 2) alfalfa persisted and produced well enough to meet those missing nutritional needs. [Data are published in Baxter et al. 2017d in Crop Science Vol. 57(4)]. In 2017, we are conducting economic analysis of the 2014-2016 grazing trial data to round out the picture of sustainability of water use for beef cattle grazing in legume-enhanced pastures.

We compared different nondestructive methods of quantifying legume ground cover in relation to manual separation of clipped (destructive) samples: visual estimates, ImageJ digital image analysis, photography with PowerPoint, and multispectral reflectance. Visual estimates gave the most consistently high correlation with manual separations in the alfalfa-tall wheatgrass pastures because digital image analysis and spectral reflectance could not separate the hues of green color between alfalfa and grass. In the OWB-legume pastures, the PowerPoint method gave the best correlations to manual separation. This method is the simplest to carry out, but visual estimates were always fastest. Data are published in by Baxter et al. 2017a in Crop, Forage, and Turfgrass Management Vol. 3(1) and Baxter et al., 2017b in Agronomy Journal Vol. 109(5)].

A study by doctoral student Krishna Bhandari characterized insect populations in the grass-only system and the grass-legume system for cattle horn flies and other insects to test whether OWB deters potentially harmful insects. This is in response to casual observations by producers that cattle harbor fewer flies when grazing WW-B.Dahl OWB. On seven observation dates across 2015 and 2016, there was a small but statistically nonsignificant trend toward fewer flies on cattle grazing OWB alone. The most dramatic effect of OWB on insects was the virtually complete absence of fire ants and harvester ants in soil where OWB was grown. Number of insects in pitfall traps in OWB (48 insects per pasture) was substantially lower than in traps in teff (88), alfalfa-tall wheatgrass (120), and native grass mixtures (175). These results indicate that WW-B.Dahl bluestem reduces insect attractiveness and biodiversity. This observation strongly supports earlier published accounts that OWB is a strong fire-ant deterrent, a very undesirable pest in pastures. The numbers of beneficial insects such as ladybird beetles and pollinators were generally greater in pastures containing alfalfa. (Collaborating professors were Drs. V. Acosta-Martinez, S. Longing, and D. Klein).

A current doctoral study was initiated in October 2015 in which diverse types of alfalfa varieties were sod-seeded into six existing stands of native grasses. The objective was to identify planting densities and growth types of alfalfa which, once established, could provide a high-protein component of native grass pasture without competing too much for soil water. Data collection continues through 2017 and 2018 for this graduate study, and will then be monitored over extended time for persistence. In four of the six pastures, alfalfa stands were finally well developed by 2017 and now allow a viable comparison of varieties and planting densities.

Graduate student Lisa Baxter received a grant from the SSARE graduate student program GS15-152 titled “Evaluation of winter annual cover crops under multiple residue management: Impacts on land management, soil water depletion, and cash crop productivity.” The winter cover crops rye, wheat, burr medic, hairy vetch, and rape-kale were planted in October of 2015 and 2016, in no-till and conventional-tilled plots, irrigated and nonirrigated in winter. The summer crop was teff in 2016 and 2017. In the summer 2016, teff production and soil water depletion were not different between the winter irrigation treatments. Soil water and plant measurements are still on-going.

Participation Summary
1 Farmer participating in research


Educational approach:

The pasture research facility at the Texas Tech New Deal Research Farm was used for training graduate studeents in conducting research on a forage-livestock systems, undergraduate students on field trips associated with courses in the departments of Plant & Soil Science and Animal & Food Science, visiting students and professionals from other universities and countries, and field day tours and demonstrations for area farmers.

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
13 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 On-farm demonstrations
10 Tours
30 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

70 Farmers
25 Ag professionals participated
Education/outreach description:

The Forage and Livestock Field Day was held on July 9 2015 with 100 participants as an outreach effort sponsored by the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC), with involvement of Texas Tech Department Of Animal and Food Sciences (Drs. S. Trojan and J. Sarturi), USDA-NRCS (K. Attebury), USDA-ARS V. Acosta-Martinez), and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (C. Trostle and T. Steffins). Producers learned about soil health, pasture establishment, annual forages, integration of low-irrigation-input grazing into cropping systems, irrigation innovations, cattle handling, OWB hay and seed production, dryland native-pasture options, and cattle nutrition. A lunch-time discussion and question-answer session was held with two prominent local producers who have successfully integrated the use of pastures into their annual cropping systems as a profitable method of dealing with reduced irrigation supply from the Ogallala aquifer. The producers were able to relate their decision-making on crop and forage diversification to the topics demonstrated in that morning’s field day tours. The event was recorded on video by the communications personnel and posted on the TAWC web site. A local television station recorded field scenes and interviews with participants for local programing.

The TAWC instigated in 2015 the first annual Water College. This is a day-long set of presentations and booth demonstrations for producers on recent advances in irrigation technologies, water management, field results from TAWC partners and from research on crops and forages such as ours. For example, experts spoke on how to use mid- and long-term weather forecasts to plan their crop choices, prospects for integrating cattle production into cropping systems, and the latest on varieties with enhanced forage quality in sorghums for beef and dairy production. The Water College is now an annual event with attendance nearing 200 persons.

A Field Day was to be held on August 18, 2017, with co-sponsors SSARE, TAWC, High Plains Water District, Ogallala Water CAP (USDA-AFRI-funded project), Ogallala Aquifer Program (USDA-ARS funded program), Sorghum Check-Off, Cotton Inc., and Chromatin, Inc. Unfortunately, rain before that date made the farm roads impassable, so it was postponed until August 24. Another rain occurred which forced us to cancel the second attempt. The planned topics were 1) how we used alfalfa to improve steer weight gains and reduce the water footprint beef production, and 2) a demonstration of low-water-input crops can facilitate transition of crop management where irrigation availability has become severely reduced. Crops included safflower, sunflower, sesame, pearl millet, new forage sorghum cultivars, and comparisons with cotton and grain sorghum.

A major effort in 2015 was our collaboration with SSARE Public Relations Coordinator, Candace Pollock, for the production of the Topic Room website called Water Conservation on the High Plains (http://www.southernsare.org/highplainswaterconservation). This Topic Room contains links to all the output from the TeCSIS program since created by its founder, Dr. Vivien Allen, in 1997. Of especially high impact is a suite of 11 bulletins (accessed from the Education Resources link) which explain in detail the innovative approaches and results from SSARE-funded research by the Texas Tech forage program. We worked very closely with Candace to provide text and photographic content and editing the resulting bulletins and other content in the Topic Room. We greatly appreciate the efforts of Candace and the support of SSARE in pulling together the many years and volumes of output from this program. These efforts demonstrate that the support of research infrastructure at the Texas Tech New Deal Research Station has been leveraged to amplify the transfer of sustainable agricultural technology in the Southern High Plains.

Learning Outcomes

20 Farmers reported changes in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness as a result of their participation

Project Outcomes

9 Grants received that built upon this project
4 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:


Over the entire history of this project since an initial SARE grant in 1997, the amount of information and student education, theses, field days, instructional videos, handouts, presentations, and journal articles has been enormous and indicates a strong return on investment in long-term research and education. The research output and education events at the New Deal research farm tie into broad-scale efforts to disseminate scientifically tested advances in water use, soil management, and integration of crops and livestock in an environment where the main driver of farm profitability and rural economy has been the Ogallala Aquifer, now in decline. These broader efforts include the TAWC, which directly impacts landowners and decision-makers, commercial companies dealing with crop consulting, irrigation equipment, and improved cultivars, collaboration with other institutions with complementary missions such as USDA-NRCS, and finally the greater mission of Texas Tech University in educating students and visitors on land and water sustainability.

Besides the use of SSARE funds to maintain research at the New Deal Research Station, another critical component of the Large Systems effort is occurring thanks to funding from the Texas Water Development Board for the outreach effort in the TAWC project. That project has been very successful in reaching farmers and disseminating information on best practices for managing irrigation. The Forage and Livestock Field Day of July 2015 showcased the advances in forage research and how we apply wise water management as an option for producers to sustain their operations amid the decline of groundwater supplies for row-crop irrigation. This is an example of how the support of research infrastructure at the Texas Tech New Deal Research Station has been leveraged to amplify the transfer of sustainable agricultural technology in the Southern High Plains.

Through SARE support for this Large Systems research we will continue to seek ways to conserve, cooperate, educate and strive to continue to solve the ever-pressing issues of sustainability and the challenges to agriculture today.

Creative Output and Presentations

   Journal articles published:

Trojan, S., and C. West. 2012. Conserving water and maintaining economic viability by grazing introduced perennial grasses. Rangeland Issues 1(3):1-7. National Ranching Heritage Center, Texas Tech University, Lubbock.

Cui, S., C.J. Zilverberg, V.G. Allen, C.P. Brown , J. Moore-Kucera, D.B. Wester, M. Mirik, S. Chaudhuri, and N. Phillips. 2014. Carbon and nitrogen responses of three old world bluestems to nitrogen fertilization or inclusion of a legume. Field Crops Research 164:45-53.

Zilverberg, C.J., C.P. Brown, P.E. Green, M.L. Galyean, and V.G. Allen. 2014. Integrated crop–livestock systems in the Texas High Plains: Productivity and water use. Agronomy Journal 106:831-843.

Zilverberg, Cody J., and Vivien G. Allen. 2014. Repeated grazing affects quality and sampling strategies of ‘WW B. Dahl’ old world bluestem. Texas J. Agric. Nat. Res. 27:84-87.

Zilverberg, C., P. Brown, P. Green, V. Allen, and M. Galyean. 2015. Forage performance in crop-livestock systems designed to reduce water withdrawals from a declining aquifer. Rangelands 37(2):55-61. doi: 10.1016/j.rala.2015.01.003

Baxter, L.L., C.P. West, C.P. Brown, and P.E. Green. 2017a. Nondestructive determination of legume content in grass-legume pastures. Crop Forage Turfgrass Management Vol. 3(1). doi:10.2134/cftm2016.12.0088. Available online: https://dl.sciencesocieties.org/publications/cftm/abstracts/3/1/cftm2016.12.0088

Baxter, L.L., C.P. West, C.P. Brown, and P.E. Green. 2017b. Comparing nondestructive sampling techniques for predicting forage mass in alfalfa-tall wheatgrass pasture. Agron. J. 109: doi: 10.2134/agronj2016.12.0738 [In press]

Baxter, L.L., C.P. West, C.P. Brown, and P.G. Green. 2017c. Stocker beef production on low-water input systems in response to legume inclusion. I. Forage and animal responses. Crop Sci. 57:2294-2302. doi: 10.2135/cropsci2017.02.0112.

Baxter, L.L., C.P. West, J.O. Sarturi, C.P. Brown, and P.G. Green. 2017d. Stocker beef production on low-water input systems in response to legume inclusion. II. Water footprint. Crop Sci. 57:2303-2312.  doi: 10.2135/cropsci2017.05.0289.

   International, national, and regional presentations and proceedings:

West, C.P., R. Kellison, S.J. Maas, C.P. Brown, S. Borgstedt, P.N. Johnson, D.L. Doerfert. 2014. Regional opportunities and challenges – High Plains. D. Reible (ed.). p. 36-39. 2014 Texas Water Summit Report: Securing our Economic Future. The Academy of Medicine, Engineering, and Science of Texas (TAMEST), Austin, TX. Available at: http://www.tamest.org/publications/event-publications.html, May 19. Austin, TX.

West, C.P., S.J. Maas, R. Kellison, C.P. Brown, S. Borgstedt, P.N. Johnson, D.L. Doerfert, J. Pate, and J. Yates. 2014. Promoting conservation of irrigation water in the Texas High Plains. In Annual Meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

West, C.P., R. Kellison, C.P. Brown. 2014. An integrated approach to water conservation for agriculture in Texas Southern High Plains. Nebraska Independent Crop Consultants Assoc., Feb 13. Nebraska City, NE.

West, C., R. Kellison, S.J. Maas, C.P. Brown, S. Borgstedt, P.N. Johnson. 2014. TAWC 2013 Annual report to Texas Water Development Board, Austin, TX.

West, C.P. 2014. Changes in irrigation practices in High Plains crop production. Texas Tech Climate Science Center Seminar series. May 6, 2014.

West, C.P., and R.L. Kellison. 2014. Impacts and recommendations of TAWC project.  Region O planning meeting on water policy. April 23.

West, C.P. 2014. Forage and water research at Texas Tech. North Central Coordinating Committee-31, Ecophysiological Aspects of Forage Management. Grand Rapids, MI. June 17-18.

Xiong, Y., C.P. West, and C.P. Brown. 2014. Digital image analysis of Old World bluestem canopy cover, yield, and leaf area. In Annual meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Xiong, Y., C.P. West, and C.P. Brown. 2015. Digital image analysis of Old World bluestem canopy cover to predict leaf area and yield. Poster presented at Ogallala Aquifer Program annual meeting, March 12-13, Manhattan, KS.

Angadi, S., J. Idowu, P. Gowda, T. Zobeck, and C. West. 2015. Circular grass buffer strips in pivot irrigation systems to improve system resiliency under future climate. Conference on Agriculture and Climate Change: Adapting Crops to Increased Uncertainty. 15-17 February, 2015, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

West, C.P., C.P. Brown, R.L. Kellison, D.M. Mitchell, P.N. Johnson, and W.J. Pate. 2015. Ten-Year Comparisons of irrigation use from the Ogallala Aquifer in the Texas South Plains. In Annual meetings 7abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

West, C.P., R. Kellison, C.P. Brown, P.N. Johnson, D.L. Doerfert, and S.J. Maas. 2015. Conservation of irrigation water in the Texas High Plains: Texas Alliance for Water Conservation. World Environmental & Water Resources Congress, 18 May, 2015, Austin, TX. Environmental & Water Resources Institute.

West, C.P. 2015. Co-organized and spoke on using alfalfa in low-irrigation pastures at Forage and Livestock Field Day, New Deal, TX, July 9, 2015.

West, C.P. 2015. Use of WW-B.Dahl pasture management at 3rd annual Southwest Ranchers Roundtable, Lubbock, TX, July, 2015.

West, C.P., S. Borgstedt. 2015. TAWC Infographic: Animated video on YouTube, 2:37 duration. Technical production by Ramar Communications, Lubbock, TX. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9kOgTtmnVI

West, C.P. 2015. Received the Service/Outreach Award by the Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for high impact efforts at disseminating information on conservation of ground water for irrigated crops and pastures.

Baxter, L.L., C.P. West. 2016. Comparison of productivity, efficiency, and profitability of grass-only and grass-legume beef stocker grazing systems in the Southern High Plains. American and Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference, 10-13 January, Baton Rouge.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2016. Comparison of traditional and novel non-destructive techniques for assessment of botanical composition in grass-legume pastures. American and Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference, 10-13 January, Baton Rouge.

Longing, S., C. Jewett, B. Rendon, S. Discua, R. Cox, C. McKenney, N. McIntyre, and C. West. 2016. An assessment of bee richness and community structure across different agroecosystems on the Southern High Plains (Texas, USA). 2016 Int. Cong. Entomology / Entomol. Soc. Am. Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL, 30 Sept.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2016. Comparison of productivity and efficiency of grass-only and grass-legume beef stocker grazing systems in the Southern High Plains. In Annual meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2016. Developing novel non-destructive sampling techniques for assessing botanical composition in grass-legume pastures. In Annual meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Sugg, J.D., P.R. Campanili, C.P. West, L.L. Baxter, J.O. Sarturi, and S.J. Trojan. 2016. Evaluation of Eragrostis tef (Zucc.) as a forage option for grazing beef cattle in the Southern High Plains. Proc. Am. Soc. Anim. Sci. Western Section, Am. Dairy Sci. Assoc., and Canadian Soc. Anim. Sci. Joint Annual Meeting, 19-23 July, Salt Lake City, UT.

West, C.P. 2016. Conserving irrigation water from the Ogallala; Water footprint of beef production on pastures. OECD Workshop on Virtual Water in Agricultural Products: Quantification, Limitations and Trade Policy. Sponsored by Nebraska Water Center. 14-16 Sep. Lincoln, Nebraska.

Xiong, Y., C.P. West, and T. McLendon. 2016. Fractionating rainfall into vegetative interception and soil infiltration in perennial  grassland. In Annual meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Bhandari, K., C.P. West, S.D. Longing, D.M. Klein and V. Acosta-Martinez. 2016. Arthropod community composition of ‘WW-B.Dahl’ Old World bluestem pasture systems. In Annual meetings abstracts [CD-ROM]. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, WI.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2017. Comparison of productivity and efficiency of grass-only and grass-legume beef stocker grazing systems in the Southern High Plains. Presented at: American Forage and Grassland Conference, Roanoke, VA. 24 Jan.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2017. Evaluation of winter annual cover crops under multiple residue managements: Impacts on soil water depletion and cash-crop productivity. Poster presented at: American Forage and Grassland Conference, Roanoke, VA. 24 Jan.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2017. Comparison of traditional and novel non-destructive sampling techniques for site-specific assessment of botanical composition in grass-legume pastures. Poster presented at: American Forage and Grassland Conference, Roanoke, VA. 23 Jan.

Bhandari, K., C.P. West, S.D. Longing, and V. Acosta-Martinez. 2017. Arthropod and soil microbial community composition of ‘WW-B.Dahl’ Old World bluestem pasture systems. Presented at: American Forage and Grassland Council, Roanoke, VA. 23 Jan.

Xiong, Y., C.P. West. 2017. Comparison of ALMANAC and APSIM for simulating Old World bluestem growth. Presented at: American Forage and Grassland Council, Roanoke, VA. 23 Jan.

Baxter, L.L., and C.P. West. 2017. Comparison of productivity and efficiency of grass-only and grass-legume beef stocker grazing systems in the Southern High Plains. Presented at: Southern Branch of the American Society of Agronomy, Mobile, AL. 6 Feb.

West, C., D. Malinowski, and T. McLendon. 2017. Responses of grassland communities to climate changes in Texas and Oklahoma. Proceedings of 71st Southern Pasture and Forage Crop Improvement Conference. 5-7 June, Knoxville, TN. Available at: http://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/spfcic/files/2013/02/Proceedings-71st-SPFCIC.pdf.

West, C.P., L.L. Baxter, C.P. Brown, and P.E. Green. 2017. Water use for beef production on pastures in West Texas. 2017 UCOWR/NIWR Annual Conference “Water in a Changing Environment”. Fort Collins, CO. 13-15 June.

Theses and Dissertations:

Xiong, Yedan. 2014. Digital Image Analysis of Old World Bluestem Canopy Cover and Leaf Area. Master’s Thesis. Texas Tech University, August, 2014.

Baxter, L.L. 2017. Novel Grazing Management Strategies for the Southern High Plains. PhD Dissertation, Texas Tech University, May, 2017.

Proposals funded:

Enhancing the viability of forage sorghum for beef cattle production in the  Southern Great Plains. S. Trojan, C.P. West. 2014. Advanta US. $149,952.

Circles of live buffer strips in a center pivot to improve multiple ecosystem services and sustainability of irrigated agriculture in the Southern Great Plains  S. Angadi, P. Gowda, C.P. West, T. Zobeck. 2015. USDA-NIFA-AFRI. $499,946.

Texas Alliance for Water Conservation. C.P. West et al., 2014-2020. Texas Water Development Board. $3.6 million. Lead PI.

Improving water productivity and new water management strategies to sustain rural economies. C.P. West, et al. 2015. Ogallala Aquifer Program (USDA-ARS). $67,851 requested, $20,000 funded.

Demonstration of pollinator conservation practices and a framework for regional implementation on the Southern High Plains. S. Longing, C. McKenney, N. McIntyre, R. Cox, C.P. West. Conversation Innovation Grant Program, USDA-NRCS. $391,461 over 4 years, with matching cost-share. My share is $19,573 (5%). 2016-2018. 

Evaluation of winter annual cover crops under multiple residue managements: Impacts on land management, soil water depletion, and cash crop productivity. L. Baxter (student advisee), and C.P. West. USDA Southern SARE Graduate Student Grant Program. $9,511. 2015-2017. 

Sustaining agriculture through adaptive management resilient to a declining Ogallala Aquifer and changing climate. Meagan Schipanski (CSU, Lead PI) and 12 co-PDs including C.P. West. USDA-NIFA-AFRI CAP. $10,000,000. My share $294,638 over 4 years. Funding starting in 2016. 

Improving grassland quality with drought-tolerant alfalfa. C.P. West, C. Villalobos. CH Foundation. $71,018. 2017-2019.

Comparing forage potential of forage sorghum, pearl millet, and corn under limited irrigation. S. Singh, C. West, and C. Trostle. High Plains Underground Water Conservation District (HPWD), Lubbock, TX. $44,264. My share is $8,853 (5%). 2017-2018.

Award Received:

West, C.P. received the Service/Outreach Award by the Texas Tech College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources for high impact efforts at disseminating information on conservation of ground water for irrigated crops and pastures.


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 or SARE.