Does it have to be a race to the bottom of the Ogallala aquifer? Hereford event aims to shift conversation

Local News

In this photo provided by Jude Smith, sand blowing off fields creates a dust storm near Morton, Texas, on May 18, 2021. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers in a “Dust Bowl zone” that includes parts of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado, to preserve and establish grasslands as the area becomes increasingly dry. (Jude Smith via AP)

HEREFORD, Texas (KAMR/KCIT)- A day-long discussion and tour at the Hereford Civic Center is intended to work on shifting the “hope-diminishing paradigm” that the Ogallala aquifer will inevitably be emptied. International, national, state, and regional speakers are expected to run the “Coming Together Around the Water Table” day-long discussion from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 27.

Announced and hosted by Holistic Management International (HMI), the Quivira Coalition, and the American Grassfed Association (AGA), the discussion was announced as the conclusion to over a month of Regenerate 2021 field days. Sponsors, according to HMI, include the Dixon Water Foundation, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, NCAT Soil for Water, and the Tecovas Foundation.

More farmers around the region have worked to restore native grasslands to protect the Ogallala aquifer, which underlies the Great Plains in eight states, and to avoid Dust Bowl conditions. Texas was noted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as a high-priority focus area in which to help farmers and ranchers reduce strain on the aquifer.

“Hereford is a logical stop in the chain of field days given trends in the decline of the Ogallala aquifer locally and across the High Plains and South Plains region.” said HMI on the event, “The hosting organizations are working with farmers and ranchers across the U.S. as they open up their operations and share their ideas on best management practices, technical services, market and value chain roles and current research concerning their sites’ holistic management and operation practices.”

“Making every drop of rain count remains a vital and essential concern in the Texas High Plains. In uncertain times like these, made more so by drought and a declining aquifer level, farming and ranching can be stressful. Solutions seem hard to come by.” said Interim Executive Director and Certified Educator with Holistic Management International Wayne Knight, “Reassurance can be drawn from knowing that some folks within the Ogallala Aquifer region are finding ways to improve their groundwater situation. We invite landowners, farmers and ranchers, water managers and concerned individuals to come hear about High Plains successes and explore how producers might want to try out some of the practical techniques, with little risk,”

“We invite those with interests and concerns associated with the Ogallala aquifer to come hear from a rancher who is consistently able to turn a profit even during times of drought because he planned ahead for grazing management and livestock numbers. Hear from the farmers themselves. See how the research backs up the farmers’ and ranchers’ approaches.

“Dr. Richard Teague, Professor Emeritus from Texas A&M Grazing Program, and Pancho Abello, an agriculture economist from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, validate these approaches for improving soil health and water infiltration to make it work for producers in their fields. The benefits learned by featured farmers and ranchers are multi-fold including improving land and the potential to help recharge our struggling water systems.”

HMI noted a lineup of speakers for the event, intending to address their experiences and philosophies of incorporating holistic management into strengthening the water future:

  • HMI’s Wayne Knight
  • Dr. Richard Teague
  • Agricultural Economist with Texas A&M University Francisco Abelló
  • No-till farmer R.N. Hopper of Petersburg
  • Hereford area farmer and rancher Dr. Chris Grotegut

Advance registration for the Hereford session, priced at $50 including lunch, has begun and is available through a call to the Quivira Coalition office at 505-820-2544 or by email at conference@quiviracoalition.org. The registration deadline is Oct. 20.

“Of note, the format and/or requirements for event attendance may change in light of shifting CDC and state public health guidelines concerning Covid.” said the event hosts, “HMI will communicate any changes regarding the Hereford event in a timely fashion.”

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