Corn, cotton and wheat together contribute to over $3 billion annually to the Texas economy. In the Winter Garden region of southern Texas, irrigation is essential for sustained production of major agronomic crops. One critical issue of resolving the currently acute conflict in water competition between different social sectors is to increase the efficiency of water use. In agricultural settings, one major focus is the adoption of efficient irrigation management strategies, which needs to be based on a better understanding of soil-crop water relations. In particular, our agronomy group emphasizes important physiological processes and crop traits that are responsible for the regulation of crop water use. This involves a close collaboration with crop breeders, crop physiologists, soil hydrologists and irrigation engineers, etc.
- GEM strategy: Linking drought tolerant traits with water use efficiency to improve productivity of cropping systems in Texas. One of the Co-PI’s. TAMU Seed grant.
- Efficient use of water in winter wheat for carbon and nitrogen acquisition: a whole plant approach. PI. Supported by Texas Wheat Producers Board.
- Effect of Ag1000TM soil amendment on corn growth and water use efficiency in southwestern Texas. PI. Supported by TeraGanix Inc.
- Sensor network and adaptive controller for smart irrigation of specialty crops. One of the Co-PIs. Pending approval by The Chancellor’s Area 41 Challenge Grant with Texas A&M University.
Develop a better understanding of eco-physiological mechanisms regulating crop water use efficiency in irrigated crop production system in the Winter Garden region of southern Texas and beyond. Develop methods for reliable and sensitive quantification of evapotranspiration of selected agronomic crops by considering the dynamic interactions of water supply and water demand for crop transpiration and yield formation. This research creates a foundation for better irrigation management strategy and more efficient crop production under water limited conditions.