Chuck West

Professor and Thornton Distinguished Chair of Plant & Soil Science Director, CASNR Water Center

Texas Tech University
Box 42122
Lubbock, TX 79409
chuck.west@ttu.edu
(806) 445-​4528

Dr. West’s graduate and postdoctoral research focussed on nitrogen dynamics in perennial legume-​grass pastures, with emphasis on using 15N tracers to measure N fixation. Research emphasis at the University of Arkansas was on elucidating the physiological mechanisms by which the Epichöe/​Neotyphodium endophytes enhanced drought tolerance and persistence in tall fescue.

Research emphasis at the University of Arkansas was on elucidating the physiological mechanisms by which the Epichöe/​Neotyphodium endophytes enhanced drought tolerance and persistence in tall fescue. Research included collaborations with animal scientists on grazing trials and leading research on adaptation and modeling of switchgrass as a bioenergy crop. Dr. West has taught several courses on forage production, forage research techniques, environmental restoration, and bioenergy crop production. He now applies his experiences in grazing research, crop modeling, forage quality, and water relations in two major efforts, 1) making forage/​cattle systems an economical and water-​frugal component of High Plains agriculture; and 2) leading an outreach program demonstrating

Dr. West has taught several courses on forage production, forage research techniques, environmental restoration, and bioenergy crop production. He now applies his experiences in grazing research, crop modeling, forage quality, and water relations in two major efforts, 1) making forage/​cattle systems an economical and water-​frugal component of High Plains agriculture; and 2) leading an outreach program demonstrating more-​efficient irrigation techniques to producers to stretch the water resource of the Ogallala Aquifer. More specifically, the forage thrust aims to integrate forage crops and grasslands into High Plains cropping systems to diversity land and water use, thereby improving soil quality while reducing the region’s water footprint of meat and milk production. The outreach thrust is accomplished via the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, which is a consortium

More specifically, the forage thrust aims to integrate forage crops and grasslands into High Plains cropping systems to diversity land and water use, thereby improving soil quality while reducing the region’s water footprint of meat and milk production. The outreach thrust is accomplished via the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation, which is a consortium of
producers, Texas Tech University scientists, and conservation agencies. The TAWC carries out in-​field education programs and hands-​on demonstrations showing producers available options for conserving groundwater while sustaining an economic livelihood.Opportunities.The big picture idea I like is the concept of water footprint, which arithmetically on a scale of a single crop, irrigation technology, or field, is the inverse of water use efficiency (or acre-​inches of water used to produce and process a pound or ton of commodity output).

Opportunities. The big picture idea I like is the concept of water footprint, which arithmetically on a scale of a single crop, irrigation technology, or field, is the inverse of water use efficiency (or acre-​inches of water used to produce and process a pound or ton of commodity output). Water footprint can also be scaled up to a regional (Ogallala region), commodity (e.g. beef production using irrigated corn), and industry (food production) level. This is analogous to a carbon footprint, which has become a standard of environmental and social ethics of an industry. I would like OWCAP to demonstrate progress in reducing the water footprint in the various ways in which it can be expressed but still in the context of meeting the future needs of world food production. The last comment refers to the fact that dryland ag has a very low water footprint, but demand for food will increase.

What does success for our project look like in 2020?

We will provide scientific evidence and practical methods that demonstrate economical ways to maintain agricultural production in the Ogallala region. Success also entails the research team’s ability to learn from innovative producers how to balance the conflicting forces of economics, climate extremes, and declining water supply for sustaining the agricultural fabric of the High Plains. Besides producers, other stakeholders include all the sectors that provide inputs to and process outputs from agriculture in the region. Results can also inform agriculture industries in other regions of the world facing similar challenges.

Links

Texas Coalition for Sustainable Integrated Systems Research Program (TeCSIS)
Texas Alliance for Water Conservation (TAWC)

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