Trevor Johnson of Crowell, Texas, bleeds red and black. As a Texas Tech University agricultural and applied economics doctoral student, Johnson received his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the same department. Growing up on his family’s ranch, agriculture has played a significant role in who he is and who he wants to be in the future.
Currently, Johnson is wrapping up his first year working on his doctorate degree, with his dissertation focusing on incentive requirements for producers to implement carbon sequestration practices into their operation. He is collecting data that will be useful to companies and organizations with technology related to water management. Johnson said working directly with producers allows him to see firsthand the fight for the future of water and agriculture on the High Plains.
“We need to know a lot more on the producer level, the field level, and specific operation, like what different producers are doing and what their incentives are to adopt these different practices,” Johnson said.
In a recent survey with Donna McCallister, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at Texas Tech, regarding cover crop adoption, Johnson has been able to identify weak spots in their proposed solutions.
Cover crops are a common practice among the High Plains to sequester carbon but require irrigation due to the lack of precipitation in the area. The process of irrigation not only requires aquifer drawdown but also emits carbon when pumping water to a center pivot. Johnson said, this practice is a prime example of how the positives outweigh the negatives. Cover crops sequester carbon into the ground and hold dirt down during the empty months.
Johnson’s research gives producers a voice to share the dollar amounts these new practices would cost them and what they need in payment to help implement them. The fight for the future of water and agriculture on the High Plains will take all of us, and Trevor Johnson is doing his part in the fight.