Could Livestock Industry Shift Away from High Plains?

October 6, 2016 01:08 PM

Livestock could see a shift away from the high plains as it chases an abundant water supply.

A hydrologist from the University of California, Irvine says a declining Ogallala Aquifer could eventually mean a migration.

Jay Famiglietti said of the world’s 37 main aquifers, 20 are being depleted at unsustainable rates, including the Ogallala. The aquifer covers eight states: South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

According to our partners at Drovers, the aquifer supplies 30 percent of the water used in U.S. agriculture. 

“When you look at Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and the Ogallala, they are producing a lot of grains, a lot of corn just using water from that region,” said Famiglietti. “We may be needing some help from other states, but we use more than we have available.”

Satellites are used to develop compute models to track how freshwater availability is changing all over the world.

According to Famigletti, a lot of water use is unregulated. The country needs to come up with a strategy for sustainable global food production. 

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Spell Check

Brad Emerson
Ellsworth, NE
10/7/2016 08:24 AM

  By Allen R. Williams, Ph.Can We Pr Recently there have been a number of ads published in major agricultural publications that attempt to explain the “myths” of grassfed beef. In these ads, major companies such as Elanco and Certified Angus Beef (CAB) state that grassfed beef does not have any advantage over grain-fed in terms of nutritive value, that grassfed beef production is more harmful in terms of greenhouse gas production (GHG), and that it will always remain a very small niche in U.S. beef production because we simply cannot produce grassfed beef at scale, as there are not enough acres to do so. I addressed the nutritive value issue in an article earlier this year, showing that published scientific studies clearly state positive benefits for grassfed in terms of key nutritional components. I will tackle the GHG issue in the future. So let's look at the “not enough acres” claim. For years now I have repeatedly heard from many different people in the grain-fed beef sector, university faculty, USDA personnel and even grassfed beef producers that we can grow the grassfed beef market only so much with domestic production because we do not have enough grassland acres available to finish at scale.  Let’s take a look at the facts. First, what does it take to finish and animal on grass? To compare apples to apples, we need to define the finishing phase. I define it as the phase where an animal has stopped growing significant bone and muscle and is transitioning to fattening, with deposition of backfat, seam fat, KPH and marbling. That starts at around 800 lbs. for moderate-frame cattle. If we want our cattle to be well-finished, we need to take them to an average of 1,200 lbs. So 400 lbs. of weight have to be added in the finishing phase. If the cattle are gaining a modest 2.1 lbs./day during the finishing phase, it will take 190 days to gain that weight and get to 1,200 lbs. Their average weight during that 190 days will be 1,000 lbs. To achieve minimum

Independence, MO
10/8/2016 05:20 PM

  Maybe the article could've said that the Ogallalah covers "parts" of 8 states. The 30% of all ag irrigation water seems high (without checking). It would also be a surprise if those fields that actively used the Ogallalah produced as much as 30% of value of all irrigated lands. The latest report (sorry, can't quote reference) indicates that SW Kansas suffers the greatest depletion rate, and Nebraska's regulation of use and recharge has it about balanced.

John Roos
Littleton, CO
11/28/2016 01:26 PM

  Could Mob Stocking Herbivorous Solar Conversion Lignified Carbon Sequestration Fertilization be one key help to this issue?


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