Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Methods To Conserve Water In Drought Conditions Developed

Date:
March 24, 2009
Source:
Texas A&M
Summary:
Intensifying drought conditions in Texas and other parts of the US plus increasing worldwide water consumption makes ongoing water conservation research highly relevant.

Grass lysimeters and weather stations like those seen here are used to gather data for water conservation research at the AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Texas AgriLife Research

Intensifying drought conditions in Texas and other parts of the U.S. plus increasing worldwide water consumption makes ongoing water conservation research at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde even more relevant, said the center’s director.

“Our research includes develop methods of augmenting aquifers, ways to determine their uniqueness, and ways to increase the efficiency of water taken from them,” said Dr. Bill Holloway of Texas AgriLife Research, resident director of the center. “We have several ongoing research projects tied to water conservation.”

Holloway said the current drought likely serves as an example of what producers in many other areas of the nation will experience as normal water availability in the future. He added that crop irrigation represents the single-largest portion of water consumption in Texas.

“The majority of the water used for irrigation in Uvalde County and surrounding counties comes from two large but dissimilar underground water sources – the Edwards Aquifer and Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer,” he said.

Holloway said the center works closely with area producers to identify ways they can reduce their irrigation water use and, when necessary, meet watering restrictions, and still have good crop yield and quality. He pointed to the center’s Precision Irrigators Network, which began in 2004, as an example of long-term researcher/producer cooperation toward water conservation.

The network is comprised of about 20 producers in a multi-county area of South Central Texas. It is supported by several regional water providers and conservation districts. Producers work with center researchers and Texas AgriLife Extension Service agents to gather data on rainfall and climatic factors, soil type, soil moisture evaporation and the growth stages of various crops. This information is then used toward developing methods to increase irrigation efficiency.

Results from the irrigators network have demonstrated opportunities for reducing irrigation use by 15 percent to 25 percent without reducing crop yield or quality, according to program researchers.

“The network was formed with the goal of saving millions of gallons of water annually by reducing irrigation water use by as much as 20 percent in the future," Holloway said. “We’re well on the way to accomplishing that goal.”

AgriLife Research scientists Dr. Diane Rowland and Dr. Daniel Leskovar provide leadership for the network.

Rowland said new program research will be expanded to include enhancements on weather data gathering capabilities, improved technology for taking seasonal root measurements and using sap flow to determine water use by different crop plants.

“There’s also a real opportunity for growers to learn more about and adopt conservation tillage techniques,” Rowland said. “Conservation tillage hasn’t been very well established in this region, but it’s a tremendous water-saving tool and the drought should convince farmers here and elsewhere in the U.S. that it’s worth pursuing.”

Rowland is also working on research related to alternative irrigation methods, including surface- and subsurface-drip irrigation, as well as the use of drag socks on pivot-irrigation systems.

“These will all have applications not only to this region, but to other regions in the U.S. and to other nations where there are similar soils, water sources and watering restrictions,” she said.

Dr. Jason West, another of the center’s AgriLife Research scientists, is an ecosystem ecologist studying the other end of the aquifer water balance equation. West is investigating range management methods to improve aquifer recharge, as well as ways to determine the nature and distinctiveness of aquifers.

“This includes investigating the relationships between water bodies in the South Central Texas area, particularly those which supply much of the region’s irrigation water – the Edwards Aquifer and Carrizo-Wilcox,” he said.

West is evaluating the non-radioactive stable isotopes of well water to understand the relationships between wells and the aquifers supplying them.

“Stable isotopes record the evaporation and condensation histories of water and naturally ‘label’ different water bodies,” he explained.

West said his research would lead to a better understanding of how aquifers are organized below ground.

“This allows us to know more about this unseen and complicated network of water resources and to evaluate the consequences of our activities on these water bodies,” he said.

West said isotopic signatures, combined with other measurements, help to determine the distribution and efficiency of recharge into underground water bodies such as aquifers.

“It helps us determine how much water actually makes it past plant roots and into the aquifer system,” he said. “It also shows us how recharge differs in a karst or limestone-based aquifer like the Edwards as opposed to a semi-consolidated sediment structure like the sandy sediments of the Carrizo-Wilcox.”

West said data obtained on the two regional aquifers would help better understand and manage similar bodies in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Information derived from this research will be useful in helping water districts develop “desired future conditions” they want to meet, he said.

“In the future, aquifers in this region and throughout the U.S. will come under increased pressure to facilitate economic growth,” Holloway said. “What researchers learn now about efficiently managing water resources will be vital in addressing the challenges of ensuring an adequate supply of this precious natural resource in years to come.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Texas A&M. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Texas A&M. "Methods To Conserve Water In Drought Conditions Developed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324171602.htm>.
Texas A&M. (2009, March 24). Methods To Conserve Water In Drought Conditions Developed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324171602.htm
Texas A&M. "Methods To Conserve Water In Drought Conditions Developed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324171602.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism

AP (Apr. 18, 2014) Operators of recreational businesses on western reservoirs worry that ongoing drought concerns will keep boaters and other visitors from flocking to the popular summer attractions. (April 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Man Claims He Found Loch Ness Monster With... Apple Maps?

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Andy Dixon showed the Daily Mail a screenshot of what he believes to be the mythical beast swimming just below the lake's surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

First Ever 'Female Penis' Discovered In Animal Kingdom

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) Not only are these newly discovered bugs' sex organs reversed, but they also mate for up to 70 hours. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Ark. Man Finds 6-Carat Diamond At State Park

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) An Arkansas man has found a nearly 6.2-carat diamond, which he dubbed "The Limitless Diamond," at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins