OWCAP’s research is focused on ways to help Ogallala-​region producers and other decision makers sustain productive, profitable agriculture and effectively mitigate risks related to the Ogallala aquifer’s decline. Working across state lines, OWCAP researchers are sharing their accumulated expertise, information and networks with the mutually-​held goal of accelerating innovation and the adoption of adaptive management strategies critical to the economy and long-​term longevity of the region’s communities.

Our interdisciplinary project team is engaged in the following research areas:

Merging historical and current data to test “what-​if” scenarios

  • Development and application of an integrated model (coupling hydrologic, economic, crop, soil, and climate datasets) to evaluate the impact of management and policy scenarios on groundwater levels
  • Calibration and testing the crop modeling Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) app for the OAR
  • Analysis of historical climate trends to identify factors driving crop yield variability
  • Quantifying how projected climate variability may impact crop, soil, and water management in the decades to come

Irrigation, crop and soil management

  • Developing user-​friendly irrigation scheduling and other decision support tools
  • Identifying best management practices under limited irrigation
  • Investigating and developing precise and efficient irrigation practices and technologies that have the greatest potential for adoption
  • Researching a range of crops, crop rotations, and cropping system management strategies
  • Quantifying how soil management practices affect resilience (to drought, erosion, during transitions from fully irrigated to limited irrigation or dryland production, etc.)

Economics, policy and decision-making

  • Predicting impacts on regional income and employment in various sectors of the economy under different water availability, commodity, policy and climate scenarios
  • Analyzing historical and current social, policy, and economic contexts to identify incentives and policies most likely to be effective at encouraging greater adoption of water-​use efficient and water-​conservation oriented practices
  • Identifying and understanding the fundamental values that drive farmer decisions about natural resource use and conservation-​oriented management