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Nebraska Continues To See Modest Groundwater Decline

March 15, 2018

Unlike parts of Colorado and Kansas, Nebraska isn’t in danger of running out of groundwater from the High Plains Aquifer anytime soon. But the largest source of usable water in the state is still on average below pre-pumping water levels, according to the 2017 Nebraska Statewide Groundwater-Level Monitoring Report.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln CropWatch By: Shawna Richter-Ryerson

Study finds fallowing might help in drought

March 12, 2018

A pilot program under which farmers and ranchers in the Upper Colorado River Basin volunteered to be compensated for temporarily fallowing lands with the idea of boosting water levels in Lake Powell drew significant interest from water users and has shown that such an approach may be a useful tool, a new report on the project shows.

Source: The Daily Sentinel By: Dennis Webb

The Crop of the Future: Harvesting Carbon Could Offer a Solution to Climate Change

March 9, 2018

While natural shifts in global temperatures have occurred throughout human history, the fact remains that Earth’s average surface temperature has increased 1.3ºF over the past century and is projected to increase by an additional 3.2ºF to 7.2ºF over the 21st century. It is happening at a faster rate than ever before. Fortunately, U.S. farmers and ranchers are poised to make a difference. In fact, they have already adopted technologies in many instances that are helping to slow greenhouse gas emissions – even if it has been inadvertent – in the quest for reduced soil erosion, lower input costs, or improved water conservation.

Source: Successful Farming By: Tharran Gaines

Avoiding Overdraft: Can groundwater recharge safeguard agricultural water supplies?

March 7, 2018

Many agricultural areas of the American West are reliant on groundwater withdrawals—and even more so in the face of drought. But many aquifers have become depleted or overdrafted over the years. And as temperatures rise with climate change and as droughts become more extreme, overdrafts are likely to increase. To help ensure sustainable water supplies, farmers today are attempting to restore water sources beneath agricultural fields through a practice called on-farm groundwater recharge.

Source: Forester Daily News By: Laura Sanchez

Kansas Farmers Cut Ogallala Water Use – And Still Make Money

March 6, 2018

Five years ago, a band of farmers in northwest Kansas decided that pumping prodigious volumes of water from the Ogallala Aquifer was a path to ruin. The vast Ogallala, an underground reserve stretching from South Dakota to Texas, was shrinking. If Sheridan County farmers kept pumping, their piece of the aquifer might effectively be tapped before their heirs had a chance to work land that families revered. So the farmers decided to use less. Taking advantage of a new state law, they agreed to cut water withdrawals by 20 percent per year through 2017. The self-restraint was a test of farming skills they thought they could pass. A pair of recent economic and hydrological assessments by Kansas State University and the Kansas Geological Survey found the group of roughly 60 farmers was right. Pumping restrictions did not damage farm profitability, and they aided the aquifer. In some cases, conservation even boosted earnings. The lessons, if spread widely, could ease pressure on one of the nation’s most important sources of irrigation water.

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Montana wheat breeding responds to warmer weather

March 6, 2018

Wheat breeding aims to hit a moving target, as researchers aim to produce top yielders amid changing growing conditions. In Montana, Montana State University researchers focus their spring wheat program on changing climate requirements.

Source: Western Farmer-Stockman By: Montana State University

New method to improve crops

March 6, 2018

Researchers have developed a new way to breed plants with better traits. By introducing a human protein into the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana, researchers found that they could selectively activate silenced genes already present within the plant. The technique could produce crops that are more resistant to drought and disease.

Source: Science Daily By: University of Georgia

Scientists engineer crops to conserve water, resist drought

March 6, 2018

For the first time, scientists have improved how a crop uses water by 25 percent, without compromising yield, by altering the expression of one gene that is found in all plants.

Source: Science Daily By: Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Land Buys Raise Water Speculation Fears In Western Colorado

March 5, 2018

When Colorado River District officials caught wind of investment companies recently buying western Colorado ranches with ample senior water rights, including one north of Fruita, it got their attention. For the river district, the concern is keeping the Western Slope from eventually seeing the kind of widespread drying up of agricultural lands and withering of local farming and ranching economies that has occurred in areas of eastern Colorado over the decades as municipalities have bought up water rights.

Source: Colorado Public Radio By: The Associated Press