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Conservation

Planning the Fire: Dr. Verble’s Prescribed Burning Class Blazes a Trail

The prescribed burn class has their very own fire engine which they take on trips to conduct prescribed burns.

Throughout history, fire, in its physical form or just its idea, has developed a bad rap. Never mind the fact it provided warmth and a heat source to cook for ancient people, but do mind the devastation it can cause. The Texas Panhandle fires in May 2017 that took the lives of seven still burn in our memories. Driving down the road and seeing “EXTREME WILDFIRE DANGER,” on one of TXDOT’s big message boards brings chills to our spine as we think of the lives, livestock and spirit lost, but somehow simultaneously strengthened.

Fire is not all bad though –indigenous people who first inhabited the Americas knew that. After leaving their hunting and gathering ways and transitioning to a more agrarian lifestyle, they realized the importance fire served in helping their lands sustain the vegetables and grains they relied on. These days, producers carry on this knowledge and frequently conduct prescribed burns. A prescribed burn is a fire intentionally ignited and organized to follow a predetermined plan in accordance with National Environmental Policy Act.

Burning Brighter and Brighter

Dr. Robin Verble, assistant professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management at Texas Tech University, understands and addresses the fears people have in regard to fire, but stresses how to conduct prescribed burns safely and effectively.

“People are fearful of fire outside of a fireplace,” Verble said. “It’s always scared people because it has the potential to cause loss of economics and loss of life.”

Outside the hearth, the practical and beneficial uses of fire abound. It allows nutrient-filled new vegetation to spring up from the ground. The rejuvenating effects of fire also help to aid producers in improving soil quality. Prescribed burning also prevents dreaded wildfires. Without vegetation to burn, a spark will lack the fuel to spread, or be met by new, green plants which lack the dryness necessary to be a viable fuel source.

Verble, who is a native of French Lick, Indiana, is teaching the next generation of fire starters to responsibly utilize its power in her courses, NRM 3323 and 5323. Despite the fact the class isn’t specifically required to complete any degrees within the department, it is undisputedly the most sought after course offered among NRM students. She already has a waitlist filled with prospective students for 2019.

While no pre-requisite courses must be satisfied in order to take the class, Verble’s approval is required. Approval is gained through an application designed to help gauge a prospective student’s goals and intentions should they take the course, and more importantly, their dedication to the measures of safety required.

“I want someone who is really excited about the safety and the work,” Verble said. “It’s about 90 percent of what we do.”

People are fearful of fire outside of a fireplace.

A Legacy of Excellence in Fire Ecology

The class didn’t start with Verble’s arrival at Texas Tech in 2014. Dr. Henry Wright, who pioneered plethoras of modern fire ecology theories and practices, developed the course after he began teaching at Tech in 1967. He is and will be forever hailed for his hands-on, experiential learning approach. His legacy and expertise still shine through the course.

“I am teaching this class with the ‘Henry Wright spirit,’” Verble said. “We’re getting out and burning, both with private and public landowners. We’re giving students hands-on experience in range burning.”

Dr. Robin Verble
Dr. Robin Verble loads up the fire engine in preparation for a burn exercise.

A Family Atmosphere

Verble’s passion for teaching others about fire ecology began during her time at The University of Southern Indiana. While there, the instructor of introduction to fire ecology course taught lessons on wildland fire. Wildland fires are non-structure fires that are not prescribed and take place in a rural area. Her interest didn’t grow solely in the lecture hall, though. At the same time, she was beginning to learn about the concepts that would shape her career, her then-boyfriend and now-husband, Seth Pearson, had just joined a fire crew. Together, they would talk about the innumerable new things they were learning and studying.

The fire ecology network spans far beyond Verble and her husband, who is currently a wildlife biologist in Ralls, Texas. In addition to the prescribed burning course, she also helps organize a trip to send upper-level students who are interested in a career in fire on an expedition across the country, where they develop industry contacts while using different methods to burn. Verble said conducting a prescribed burn is an art – everyone does it a little differently, depending on the regulatory entity supervising the burn and background of the person burning.

“Fire is one of those super family atmospheres, where I know somebody who knows somebody,” Verble said while laughing. “We tend to stay really close-knit.”

Goals and Objectives

In addition to working toward familiarizing students with the basic concepts of prescribed burning, planning and fire management, a secondary goal of the prescribed burning class is for students to gain certification through the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s Type II Wildland Firefighting program. After receiving this certification, students are better qualified to work for a forest or park service.

One of the steps necessary to gain Type II certification is passing the “arduous pack test,” that requires students to complete a 3-mile hike in 45 minutes, all while carrying a 45-pound backpack. First-year graduate student Courtney Jasik, from Mertzon, Texas, recently took and passed the pack test with five seconds to spare.

“I’ll be so sore tomorrow,” said Jasik, as she powered through the third and final mile of the hike. Jasik, while keeping an open mind in regard to where her career will lead, she dreams of working as a rangeland management specialist.

“It’s extremely challenging, but also reminds me of how important fitness is in most [natural resource management] pursuits,” Jasik said.

Henry_prescribedburn1
Classmates prepare to travel to the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch in Roby, Texas to conduct a prescribed burn.

Blazing a Trail

Many students who take the course aren’t ditching their rubber-soled boots and leather gloves on the last day, though. Students who show initiative, interest and talent often stay on another semester to be a teaching assistant for the class.

“I think most of the time [students] take the class and fall in love with it,” Verble said. Students often seek not only summer internships, but full-time careers in fire ecology and firefighting.

The spring of 2018 proved to be another tumultuous season with the constant risk of a disastrous wildfires burning ominously bright. Much of Tech’s next generation of land conservationists will go through Verble’s class. As students within Texas Tech University’s Department of Natural Resource Management, they will employ countless practices, including prescribed burning, to be dedicated stewards of the land.

Now, if we could just get some more rain.

Conservation of Land & Heritage

Dan and Tom Griffin stand strong on their family ranch in front of angus cattle.

 

On the Griffin Ranch, family traditions are a blueprint for decisions about college, livelihoods and ranch management, but are difficult to amend. Tom, Dan, and Ben Griffin graduated from Texas Tech University like their father and are the fifth generation to manage a portion of the family ranch in Borden County, Texas.

Tom and Dan perpetuate stewardship attitudes they learned from previous generations, but have fostered a stronger relationship with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve their conservation practices.

Dropping off the cap

The Griffin Ranch is about 30,000 acres in total and lies right off the caprock, a stunning 250-mile-long geographic border marking the end of the Southern Plains. They also have another portion of the ranch around Channing, Texas.

“You drop off the cap, and it has a lot more character as far as up and down, breaks and creeks,” Tom said. “Every pasture is a little different.”

Tom, Dan and Ben take care of separate portions of the cow-calf ranch. However, the Griffins act as a team during times like branding and weaning and will help each other take care of the ranch regardless of whose “portion” they are working. They treat the ranch as one cohesive family business and “plan to keep it that way,” according to Dan.

The family has been managing the land since 1926 when Thomas Louis Griffin first established the ranch.

Taking back the land

Based on stories from his grandpa, Tom said the landscape was completely different back then. It would’ve looked more like the Rolling Plains with a few short mesquite trees, if any.

“It has changed quite a bit I’d say,” Tom said and chuckled, “but I think it’s always been dry.”

Thomas Lane Griffin, the brothers’ dad, began battling mesquite on the ranch, a struggle that has continued into the next generation. The trees, a problematic invasive species, suppress grasslands and dominate water resources. They are hard to eradicate, but spread easily.

“Whether you get governmental assistance or not, you have to fight it,” Tom said, “or else it takes over. It crawls through and spreads like wildfire.”

Dan and Tom said they administer brush control through aerial spraying, grubbing with a tractor or excavator, and have recently experimented with prescribed burns collaborating with the NRCS.

Firm foundations

“Since I can remember, Dad pretty much took care of the ranch himself with a couple of hands from time to time,” Tom said. “He’s done more on this ranch than we’ve done together.”

Tom explained Griffin Sr. is not resistant to new ideas and management practices, but he is a careful and cautious, especially not wanting to detriment the ranch’s grazing capability.

“He’s seen a lot more drought in his lifetime than Dan and I have,” Tom said. “He has more experience and is still the final say on a lot of things.”

The brothers consider drought a family hardship along with the passing of their grandfather.

“Paw Paw died in 2010,” Dan said, “and then it didn’t rain.”

“Paw Paw died in 2010, and then it didn’t rain.”

Since 1996, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service reports droughts have taken more than $38.5 billion from the Texas agriculture economy with farm and ranch losses totaling $21.62 billion.

Tom said 2014 and 2015 were positive years for the ranch. Since the “worst” drought Tom has ever experienced in 2011 and 2012, the ranch’s populations of quail, deer, and bobcats have skyrocketed, largely due to the conservation work the Griffins do with the NRCS.

NRCS conservation partnership

With their increasing roles as ranch managers, Tom and Dan have brought new ideas to the table by working closely with the local NRCS’s field office to improve the ranch using conservation enhancements through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

The Griffin brothers are able to enroll in NRCS programs as Young Farmer and Ranchers. This incentive gives young families like the Griffins, who are beginning to establish or expand their agricultural operations, a slightly higher cost-share rate on conservation practices and improvement projects.

Dan said the NRCS has helped cost-share projects on the ranch including building fences to help prevent overgrazing, spreading out water sources for cattle, and building a water storage system to save water for drought years.

“Because these improvements are cost prohibitive, we would’ve had to get loans,” Tom said. “The financial assistance from the NRCS makes it easier to do these conservation enhancements.”

The NRCS provides technical and financial assistance but also supports ranchers as an educational resource with a team of district conservationists, water quality and grazing land specialists, and agricultural engineers.

Dan has worked with Matthew Coffman, the NRCS Southern Rolling Plains grazing lands coordinator, to formulate a prescribed burn plan for the Griffin ranch.

“Matt made the entire fire plan, and it didn’t cost us anything,” Dan said. “The prescribed burns have helped with productivity of the grasses and brush control and has made our pastures healthier.”

Dan said working with Coffman and other NRCS staff has sparked his interest to learn more about grasses and how to keep the land productive.

Coffman said he began working with Dan in 2014. He said he is inspired by the large-scale impact on the health of the land from work his NRCS predecessors did nearly 20 years ago.

Coffman said goals for the ranch include building the burn program to the point where the Griffins have applying prescribed burns “down to a science” with a regular rotation of acres and are able to take more control of the process.

“They are just great guys,” Coffman said. “I enjoy working with them, and I can tell they want to benefit their land. They’re working really hard.”

Strong family bonds

Responsible stewardship is one of the many Griffin family traditions that the brothers said is “in their blood.”

Tom said his wife and kids enjoy Texas Tech football games and are able to sit in the same seats that Tom and his brothers did growing up. Tom and Ben were able to get the season tickets their grandparents used to have.

Gloria Griffin, the brothers’ grandmother, still lives at the homeplace and celebrated her 87th birthday in October. Tom said she has plenty of great-grandkids who visit her daily. The brothers indicated their strong ties to their family motivated them to return to the ranch after graduating.

Overall, Tom describes the Griffins as blessed to be able to continue living on the ranch and passing down family traditions and values down to the next generation.

“We grew up riding horses, working cows, hunting, fishing, and going to church,” Dan said. “Visiting grandma next door seem to be about as good a lifestyle to raise kids in as we can think of.”

 

 

Underground Livestock: Reaching New Depths in Soil Health

RN Hopper showcases his healthy soils as a result of the no-till and other conservation practices he and his father have implemented since 2004.
RN Hopper showcases his healthy soils as a result of the no-till and other conservation practices he and his father have implemented since 2004.

Just north of Petersburg, in the High Plains of West Texas, lies what seems to be dry, unmanaged fields. The surface is cracked from the heat, and corn cobs from the past harvest litter the fields. But what actually lies in RN Hopper’s fields is anything but dry and unkempt. Beneath the surface is a world breaming with life and a future in sustainable agriculture.

Hopper Graduated from Texas Tech University in 2000 with a degree in agronomy. He came home to work with his dad, Ronnie Hopper, and together started Harmony Farms in 2004.

Hopper’s passion for farming and the land led to an understanding of the soil beneath the surface and how it can provide for him and the land in the future. This understanding was garnered from both his college education as well as an informative experience at a No-Till on the Plains conference in Kansas.

The main goal of Harmony Farms was to take what Hopper had learned and put no-till conservation practices into action.

“A lot of times when people start down the no-till road, they don’t seem to have success with it because they don’t have a diverse rotation,” Hopper said. “You have to have a very diverse rotation of crops; as many species as possible. For the most part, it won’t work over an extended period of time if you’re just cotton after cotton after cotton.”

Hopper’s fields cycle cotton one out of every three years. He follows cotton with wheat, wheat with corn, and corn with cotton. He said no-till practices are very much about getting a bacterial-dominant soil back to a fungal-dominant soil, which is done by ceasing tillage.

“We’re trying to return some of the structure to the soil,” Hopper said. “It’s impossible to build organic matter if you’re oxygenating the soil with tillage because it immediately gets consumed by the microflora, once it is gone, their populations crash.”

Hopper said a healthy soil has the equivalent microbial biomass of three to five beef cattle units per acre. That is a tremendous biomass that must be fed, and the currency of nature is carbon.

Burnett, Abbie-1938
RN Hopper holds the end of a 6 ft pole inserted into his no-till field. No-till fields are composed of compact, healthy fields soils that can hold 75 percent of rainwater.

“So, if you’re not cycling that carbon slowly and naturally into your soil, you don’t have anything to steadily feed that underground livestock,” Hopper said. “And if they’re not being fed, they die. And if they die, they’re not helping to make nutrients more available or doing the thousands of other things that they do.”

Hopper said these “underground livestock” are billions of microscopic organisms that live under the soil. They feed off carbon that comes from recycled organic material. In doing so, they help create healthy soil for future crop seasons.

However, cover crops and no-till are not just about returning carbon back into the soil. John Zak, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas Tech, said he has been working with RN for three years conducting research on microbial health and manipulation.

“Really what we’re trying to understand is how soil can do certain things in terms of productivity if you manage it,” Zak said. “They have their own microbiome the same way humans do. So, the question is, how do you manage that microbiome, and what are the consequences of managing practices to the functionality of that microbiome?”

Zak said the microbiome in soil is what directly contributes to crop yield. He attributes healthy soil to a healthy microflora. One determining factor that makes soil healthy is lowering the variability in daily temperature range, or DTR, which is the difference between how hot and cold soil gets in a 24-hour period. Zak took this idea to Big Bend National Park before using it in Hopper’s fields.

“We decreased solar input (on the soils).,” Zak said. “What that does is raise the night time temperature a little bit because the soils don’t dissipate as much heat, but they don’t heat up as much during the day. You decrease DTR by about three to four degrees centigrade.”

Burnett, Abbie-1938-10
RN Hopper pulls back the trash from past season’s corn harvest to show the cover no-till practices provide for the soil. Using practices like no-till and cover crops keeps the daily temperature range (DTR) minimal to develop healthier soils and microflora.

What was showed from the lowering of DTR in the soil, Zak said, is that microbial activity in soils can increase without any change in soil moisture by about 30 percent. He explained that one of the reasons deserts are deserts isn’t because of lack of moisture: it’s because of DTR.

Zak said the results from these experiments meant farmers could create healthier soils and higher yields without irrigating more than they were already.

Hopper said no-till has greatly increased water infiltration and holding capacity in his fields.

“(The fields) probably catch 70-80 percent of the rain,” Hopper said. “But, if you have something that’s conventionally tilled, there’s probably some of the times of the year they’re only catching 30-35 percent to be used by the plants and the rest is going to runoff or evaporate.”

Hopper said he and his father did not start irrigating last season’s cotton crop until the first week of August.

“I think we’re barely tapping the potential of what we already have,” Hopper said. “Most people argue no-till is worth 5 inches of water. I would argue that it’s considerably more than that. We have the ability to get to a point, hopefully, where we can consistently capture 75-85 percent of the rainfall and get it to the root zone. And in the worst conditions, the 35 percent zone. In my opinion, it’s usually a 5- to 8-inch advantage.”

Hopper said that cover crops or residue from the past season act as armor for the soil surface. and trash from past seasons acts as a barrier to the soil. When rain falls, the impact is busted on the cover crop and then drains into the soil.

“If it rains in permanent grass, the water doesn’t run out,” Hopper said. “It all goes into the ground. You’ve got mulch cover and grass to deflect the impact of the raindrops. You only see soil uncovered in two cases, shifting landscapes or a desert. But, you won’t see any other natural landscape that’s not covered in plants. You won’t ever find anything clean tilled in nature. If there’s nothing above ground, there’s nothing to feed what’s below ground. Most, if not all, of the benefits of no-till come from that mulch cover.”

I can see a future in farming without irrigation, but I can’t see a future without a healthy soil. RN Hopper

However, Hopper said this whole process has been a challenge and a good learning curve.

“By 2006, we were committed to continuous no-till. There was a lot of steep learning curves, and there’s not a lot of people out here that do it,” Hopper said. “And so, we made plenty of mistakes and continued to make mistakes, but we’ve never had enough trouble with it to deter us from staying on the path.”

Hopper said he believes that the future of agriculture in the United States and West Texas lies in no-till practices.

“I can see a future in farming with no irrigation, but I can’t see a future without a healthy soil,” Hopper said. “I don’t know everything, and I’m definitely not right about everything, but I know there’s not a best way to do anything, but only better ways, and that’s the very definition of progress.”

At the end of the day, all Hopper does for his fields is because of his love and passion for farming and the land, he said.

“People refer to crop production as yield: it’s what you get at the end of the day, but, really, it’s what nature has yielded to you,” Hopper said. “So, I guess what I love most about being a farmer is trying to be the best steward of what God has given us that I can be. And that’s the challenge and that’s what keeps me excited about each coming year, and that’s what gets me up in the morning — just the hope of what might be yielded to us at the end.”

Texas Alliance for Water Conservation Reaches out to Farmers

TAWC President Glenn Schur and his son Layton Schur on their farm located in Plainview Texas.
TAWC President Glenn Schur and his son Layton Schur on their farm located in Plainview Texas.

The Texas Alliance for Water Conservation is working to help farmers utilize technology to conserve underground water. The TAWC project was made possible through a grant received by Texas Tech University from the Texas Water Development Board.

According to Rick Kellison, Texas Tech alumnus and TAWC project director, TAWC members are gaining recognition and raising awareness by holding meetings and field walks throughout the year. These events cater to producers but also involve many agricultural companies who help extend their reach.

“When we were trying to find a location for the Water College,” Kellison said, “we asked ourselves, ‘Where do we need to take people to help them most?’ In Lubbock, we could entice a larger audience from a larger area.”

On Jan. 18, the TAWC held their third annual meeting at the Lubbock Civic Center and attracted around 200 area farmers.

Kellison said the organization’s goal for these outreach efforts is to put technology in growers’ hands, do their best to support them through training and answering questions, and let them evaluate the value of these efforts to their farming operation. He said the producers keep detailed records for the TAWC and, in turn, they compile an economic analysis on each site involved in the project for the farmer.

“Helping doesn’t cost us anything,” Kellison said. “Just a little sweat. It’s a situation where there is no silver bullet and no one size fits all. Different producers have different comfort levels with technology.”

Glenn Schur, TAWC president, said they have some of the best raw data from different crop varieties.

“We’ve never gone in as a board and told the farmers they need to plant this or this,” Schur said. “Whatever they want to plant, we will look at it.”

Kellison said he believes the organization is making a significant impact and producers view the TAWC as an unbiased source of information.

“We are not pushing one technology over another one,” Kellison said. “We tell growers the difference in technologies, but we don’t tell them which one we think they should use or which we think is better. All we are trying to do is make producers aware that there are different technology’s there, and we believe regardless of what the farmer uses, as simple or as complicated as it can be, as long as they are using something to help them manage their water, it’s better than using nothing.”

What’s the Buzz on Pollinators?

This honey bee is collecting necter from a Mesa Red Gaillardia flower.

 What do your favorite pair of blue jeans and the apple you ate for breakfast have in common? At some point in time, a pollinator helped set the process in motion to get a crop from the field to you.

The Value of a Bee

According to the National Academy of Science, there are more than 250,000 known species of flowering plants on Earth. Seventy-five percent of those species rely on animal-assisted pollination, including the plants that produce a large portion of our food, fiber and oils.

An estimated $212 billion globally and $15 billion nationally have been attributed to pollination service by pollinators, according to the Xerces Society. Thirty percent of world food production relies on pollinators. These foods range from apples and almonds to watermelons and pumpkins, while also including plants like alfalfa, which is used as a livestock forage to produce meat and dairy products.

Pollinators also play an important role in the pollination of crops like cotton, which is ultimately used to make your favorite jeans.

Cotton is an important crop in West Texas and drives the regional economy. Lubbock County and the surrounding 18 counties, make up the largest cotton producing area in the world, often exceeding 3 million acres annually, according to the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service. The crop even played its own vital role in the establishment of Texas Tech University.

This is one of the reasons researchers at Tech have teamed up with organizations like Bayer Crop Sciences, the Wildlife Society and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to study native pollinators.

Partnerships

NRCS supported a Conservation Innovators Grant specifically aimed at pollinator research, worth over $300,000 to support the research at Texas Tech.

Without pollinators we would be in real trouble, said NRCS Wildlife Biologist Manuel De Leon.

CIG Program Director and Assistant Professor of Etymology at Texas Tech University, Scott Longing, Ph.D., said the program is aimed at expanding the knowledge of native pollinators in the area, so that future conservation efforts can be carried out.

“We don’t know yet, the value of wild bees and their pollination services,” Longing said.

A Lot To Learn

In recent years, it has become increasingly apparent the number of pollinators is declining. According to Longing, this came to the forefront of public attention with Colony Collapse Disorder, a compounded issue that has caused dramatic losses in honey bee populations.

This has led to an abundance of research on honey bees, an important pollinator in the agronomic system, but also a species that is non-native to North America. Longing said the influx of research has also failed to definitively account for declining native populations of bees, mostly due to a lack of information on them.

According to Longing, there are over 900 native species of bees in Texas, with more than 100 species living in the high plains area. However, little is known about these native pollinators. In fact, Longing said his team actually has more species of bees in its collection than the local museum.

“We are trying to find out about pollinator diversity,” Longing said, “so we can really monitor pollinator decline.”

Longing said he and his team have partnered with 19 farmers from across West Texas to set up a variety of research plots. The research plots range from Conservation Reserve Program land to land bordering a vineyard and organic cotton farm, to even a pumpkin farm in Floyd County.

One thing many don’t understand about bees is that while honey bees and some species of bumble bees are social, most other species are solitary. According to the Xerxes Society, most species native to North America make their nests in the soil, where they will tunnel out brood cells to lay eggs.

These solitary bees usually live for about one year, but spend most of their lives developing in their nest. Humans typically only see native bees in their adult stage which last three to six weeks, according to the Xerces Society.

“We want to learn about their habitat,” Longing said, “so we can figure out the best way to manage them, so that they can provide that pollination service.”

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What are they learning?

With the very limited amount of information about the native pollinators in the area, Longing said his team is studying many facets of the native pollinators including their habitats.  One thing the team has already observed is the native bees on the Floyd County pumpkin farm, manage to live in the rotation fields, somehow making it out of the soil before the field is cultivated the next year.

Longing said that particular pumpkin farmer had brought in almost 100 hives of migratory honey bee hives to support pollination services, but the team noticed that only two varieties of the pumpkins were being pollinated by them. The rest were being pollinated by native squash bees.

“Another need, from an economic stand point, is just to learn about pollinator services.” Longing said. “To learn what the different bees are pollinating, and what can benefit from the pollination, from a honey bee stand point and a native bee stand point, and to keep farmers from spending excess money on honey bees that aren’t doing anything for their crop.”

The research Longing and his team are doing stands not only to benefit pollinator conservation, but also has great potential to benefit producers.

According to Longing, recent research conducted by another university showed a correlation between cotton fields that were surrounded by wild vegetation and native bee species, and larger cotton boll sizes due to out-crossing of pollination. Longing said he hopes his project finds valuable information like this that benefits producers and pollinators.

Longing said Texas Tech is located in a unique, but well suited, area for pollinator research to be conducted. The university sits in a transition zone between two insect-rich areas, the Great Plains and the Southwestern United States, which he noted is likely the most diverse area in the U.S. in terms of stinging insects. This rich diversity makes the High Plains an optimal place to gather information about pollinators.

This is one of the reasons Tech was selected for NRCS’ prestigious Conservation Innovation Grant, as well as a native pollinator planting location. The location is one of only four in the nation and is a collaborative initiative between Bayer Crop Sciences and The Wildlife Society to provide forage for native pollinator populations.

The project taking place at Texas Tech could have a major impact on the future of agriculture. With declining numbers of pollinators and limited current knowledge, the future could look grim, but Longing and his team, with the support of their partners, are working to change that.

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