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Texas Climate-Smart Initiative
for Vegetable Growers in the RGV

The Texas Climate-Smart Initiative is a pioneering program designed to engage farmers, including the small-scale and historically underserved ones in the Rio Grande Valley, in adopting innovative, climate-resilient agricultural practices. The initiative aims to create a network of testbeds where sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming techniques are implemented and studied. Through outreach, education, and collaborative partnerships, the initiative seeks not only to improve local agricultural sustainability but also to contribute valuable data and insights to the broader efforts against climate change. It acts as a bridge between farmers, academic researchers, and policymakers to foster a more sustainable agricultural future for Texas.

Funding from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services

Collaborators: Texas A&M University - AgriLife Research with Drs. Julie Howe and Dr. Nithya Rajan. 


Long-Term Impacts of No-Tillage on Dryland Cotton and Sorghum Crop Rotations

This project focuses on investigating the long-term impact of different tillage practices on dryland cotton and sorghum grain crops in a semi-arid climate. The study compares conventional tillage and no-tillage systems over a 10-year period since transitioning to no-tillage in a research site maintained by Texas A&M AgriLife Research in Corpus Christi, TX. We assess various indicators to gauge the effects of no-tillage, including soil aggregate stability, organic and inorganic carbon contents, microbial respiration, permanganate-oxidizable carbon, and microbial enzyme activities related to nutrient cycling. The goal of this research is to provide valuable insights into sustainable farming methods in semi-arid regions. It aims to offer evidence-based recommendations for farmers, agronomists, and policymakers interested in improving soil health and crop productivity in dryland crop rotations

Collaborators: Texas A&M University AgriLife Research with Dr. Jamie Foster


Soil carbon sequestration in reforested sites in the RGV

More than two-thirds of terrestrial carbon is stored in the soil, yet regions of arid and semi-arid climates typically have soils with a low percentage of organic matter (0.2% to 0.5%). An increase in soil carbon not only represents sequestration of atmospheric CO2 for climate change mitigation, but also an enhancement of ecosystem services such as nutrient retention, plant growth, and habitat restoration for wildlife. 

Funding from Land Life Company and The Nature Conservancy.

Collaborators: Dr. Brad Christofferson, Dr. Alejandro Fierro, The Nature Conservancy, Fish & Wildlife Service.

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Agrivoltaics for Climate-Smart Agriculture

Agrivoltaic systems involve using land for both solar energy generation and agricultural production, such as crops growing underneath solar panels or with livestock grazing nearby. This approach offers several benefits, including improved water efficiency from increased soil moisture due to shading and higher crop yields. Utilizing land more efficiently through dual-use strategies like agrivoltaics can also boost farm profitability.This project aims to assist small-scale, underserved producers in adopting agrivoltaics, creating climate-smart market opportunities and gathering valuable environmental data. The team includes specialists providing financial and technical support to enrolled producers, alongside faculty and staff conducting detailed evaluations of the economic and environmental impacts of agrivoltaics in the region.

Funding from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services

Collaborators: The Center for Sustainable Agriculture & Rural Advancement (SARA), Just Energy, & AgriSolar Clearinghouse

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