Research Strategic Plan

FY 2012-2015

Texas Agricultural Research-Vernon: Research Unit
The mission of the Texas AgriLife Research-Vernon unit is to: (1) Develop preeminent research programs to generate scientific knowledge that meets clientele needs and improved quality of life for citizens; (2) Develop effective research and technology transfer programs that document sustainable natural resource management as a requirement for healthy, functional ecosystems which undergird viable agricultural production systems and agriculturally based communities; and (3) Develop and disseminate principles and management guidelines for sustainable use of natural resources on semi-arid croplands and rangelands.

The Texas AgriLife Research-Vernon unit will develop and deliver nationally and internationally recognized science-based information and technology relative to natural resource management that supports economically and environmentally sustainable agriculture and other societal needs.

Primary Focus:
The Vernon research unit is responsible for research at its three (3) research properties located near Vernon, and near Chillicothe, Texas, as well as selected cooperative off-station locations. The primary research focus will be the Texas Rolling Plains and neighboring regions of the Southern Great Plains. Nationally and internationally recognized programs of excellence will be established through directed research with appropriate partnerships. The Vernon research unit partners with faculty at other Texas AgriLife Research & Extension Centers, universities, USDA Agricultural Research Service and stakeholder groups on many of these research programs.

Texas AgriLife Research – Statewide Agency Mission, Vision and Goals:
Agency Mission:
The mission of Texas AgriLife Research is to develop new knowledge and tools through basic and translational research to benefit consumers and expand agricultural sustainability, profitability and environmental stewardship.

Agency Vision:
We will be foremost among peer research organizations– both nationally and internationally– as leaders in the discovery and application of agricultural sciences. Our discoveries, development, and transfer of innovative technologies will produce economic, environmental, and health benefits that are key to Texas’ success and vital in the lives of its citizens.

FY2010-FY2015 Agency Strategic Plan Imperatives and Statewide Goals
Goal 1: Sustain healthy ecosystems and conserve our natural resources.
Goal 2: Enhance competitiveness, prosperity and sustainability of urban and rural agricultural industries.
Goal 3: Improve public health and wellbeing.
Goal 4: Mitigate negative effects of global climate change.
Goal 5: Create and utilize fundamental information (genomic, proteomic and metabolomic) to optimize plant and animal production and human health.

Vernon Unit Strategic Plan: The Texas AgriLife Research-Vernon unit will conduct research that supports the above Texas AgriLife Research statewide Strategic Plan goals under 5 unit Program Objectives as follows:

Program Objective 1. Rangeland Restoration and Management: Develop restoration and management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of rangelands that will be suitable for use by technology transfer providers.

Strategy 1.1 Evaluate rangeland woody and herbaceous plants as economically and ecologically viable source of bio-energy.
Strategy 1.2 Develop sustainable treatments and management systems to limit or reduce the negative effects of invasive woody plants on rangelands.
Strategy 1.3 Determine the extent that grazing strategies influence key ecosystem services and the economic viability of working ranches.
Strategy 1.4 Develop economically sustainable management systems to restore ecosystem function and productivity of herbaceous plants on rangelands.
Strategy 1.5 Determine the extent that different grazing and brush management strategies can be used by livestock producers to mitigate and adapt to alternative climate change scenarios.

Program Objective 2. Livestock and Forage Production Systems: Strengthen forage/livestock production systems in semiarid environments to sustain year-round grazing, identify ruminant production, nutrition and health challenges, and reduce the economic loss of wheat pasture bloat.

Strategy 2.1 Develop cultivars and management practices for productive cool-season perennial grasses that withstand summer conditions in the Rolling Plains.
Strategy 2.2 Identify compatible legumes for use in summer-dormant cool-season grass pastures.
Strategy 2.3 Determine the effect of co-product feeding and supplementation on the nutritional and microbial ecology of feedlot and grazing cattle.
Strategy 2.4 Elucidate fundamental relationships between microbial genomics and production efficiency in beef cattle
Strategy 2.5 Quantify cow-calf responses to integrated rangeland and forage-based systems.
Strategy 2.6 Determine the potential and feasibility of alternative dual use crops in integrating cropping and cattle systems.
Strategy 2.7 Investigate the ecology and physiology of wheat pasture bloat and develop strategies to reduce the economic impact in dual-use wheat/stocker programs.

Program Objective 3. Cropping Systems: Develop sustainable cropping systems and production practices for the Texas Rolling Plains region.

Strategy 3.1 Evaluate yields, nutrient-use-efficiency and water-use-efficiency of dryland and irrigated cropping systems
Strategy 3.2 Determine the effects of crop type, tillage, management practices and climate on soil quality and greenhouse gas dynamics.
Strategy 3.3 Determine the physiological stress characteristics of various cropping systems, including non-traditional and under-utilized crops.
Strategy 3.4 Develop best management practices through field experimentation and simulation modeling for irrigated and dryland crop production.
Strategy 3.5 Develop farm-scale crop and irrigation decision support tools for use by producers.
Strategy 3.6 Develop new varieties of wheat for grain and beef production in the Rolling Plains.

Program Objective 4. Hydrology, Watershed Management and Water Quality: Develop management practices for protecting soil and water resources on cropland, pasture and rangeland.

Strategy 4.1 Evaluate impacts of climate, land use change, and alternate grazing management practices on hydrology and the environment.
Strategy 4.2 Assess spatio-temporal characterization of water resources and variability of groundwater quality.
Strategy 4.3 Identify and quantify sources of water quality impairment in aquifers, streams, rivers and lakes.
Strategy 4.4 Determine the most effective management systems to improve surface and groundwater quality and recharge potential.

Program Objective 5. Agricultural Resource Economics: Conduct economic analyses to develop sustainable integrated agricultural practices with a focus on natural resources.

Strategy 5.1 Evaluate the economic consequences and impact of different cropping and rangeland management practices on water resources.
Strategy 5.2 Evaluate the economic implications of climate change and mitigating management practices on natural resources in the Rolling Plains.
Strategy 5.3 Develop economic models of alternative bioenergy feedstocks based on agricultural products and co-products in Texas.
Strategy 5.4 Analyze benefits and costs associated with alternative methods of improving air quality in agricultural production systems.

Research Metrics and Deliverables:
For each of these research unit Program Objectives and Strategies, the research program deliverables will include: publications, including referred journal articles, grant and contract reports, professional conference papers and abstracts; graduate student theses and dissertations; intellectual property, including disclosures of invention, patents, or plant varietal protection approvals, or patents; grants and contracts; and service/outreach to public stakeholders.

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