Conserving Today’s Resources

Research participant and farmer, Stever Yoder in his field 45 minutes outside of Dalhart.


ost farmers try to find ways to ensure quality crops while saving money. Three Texas Panhandle farmers are getting a little help with this thanks to research.

In 2017, the Texas Corn Producers Board, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension, the National Resource Conservation Service and three producers in the Texas High Plains have partnered together to find ways to grow crops more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Katie Lewis, assistant professor in the soil fertility and chemistry department at TTU, is the principal investigator for the Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

“This project exemplifies successful and productive teamwork amongst producers, commodity groups, government agencies and universities,”Lewis said.

Other co-investigators involved in the project include Dana Porter, Jourdan Bell, and Donna M. McCallister. The collaborators include Darren Richardson and Keith Sides, from USDA-NRCS, and Brandt Underwood, a conservation agronomist.

The project began in the fall of 2017 with the collection of crop data to get information about crop management. In the fall and winter of 2019, a final report will be released.

“This research is focused on soil health practices and irrigation management tools, both of which can potentially improve farm sustainability,” Lewis said. “The innovative aspect of this project is that the effects of these tools and practices are being monitored on farmer’s fields.”

NRCS collaborator, Darren said this project can install new practices to help everything on one farm, including reducing pressure from pests.

“It is an interesting project with good producers involved,” Richardson said.

The farmers that are taking part in this research are Steve Yoder of Dalhart, Texas, Kelly Kettner of Lamb County, and Braden Gruhlkey of Deaf Smith County. Each cooperator had different techniques used to evaluate cropping, with advanced technology to monitor the soil moisture and irrigation.

With the help of this research, farmers can improve their fields and the way they take care of their crops and soil. Keeping their soil healthy will improve agricultural production and provide long-term benefits.

“The information collected from this research will serve to educate all involved in addition to our policymakers,” Lewis said.

This research has been an asset to farmers like Steve Yoder. Yoder has been able to evaluate the difference between farming practices such as fallow land and cover crops on his farm.

“Since we are probably considered as early adapters of new technologies,” Yoder said, “a lot of the practices in this research we are already using such as no-till, moisture sensors, weather stations, yield monitors, and satellite imagery.”

Yoder said he will continue their research practices on his farm after this project is over. Due to this research, these farmers can see what is working for their farm and ways they can improve along with other farmers in the future.

It is an interesting project with good producers involved.