Water Grows is an educational initiative that seeks to raise awareness of efforts by farmers to conserve water, while benefiting the economic vitality of Texas. The initiative is a joint partnership between Texas Corn Producers and United States Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
“A public understanding of local water use and conservation, and its impact on the area’s communities, is essential for the future of our state and its resources. Through the Water Grows initiative, we’re sharing how Texas farmers are working to conserve our natural resources while growing our economy, our food, and opportunities for future generations.” -Robert Gordon, chairman of the Texas Corn Producers Board
Rising to the challenge to conserve water
Irrigated agriculture accounts for nearly 80 percent of groundwater use in Texas. In preserving this valuable resource, water conservation efforts keep agricultural regions thriving today and in the future. Population growth and urban sprawl have significant impacts on agriculture – the industry must produce more food for more people and must do so on less land with less water. Water Grows works to highlight how farmers are rising to the challenge.
Texas farmers are on the forefront of conservation, using a variety of practices such as conservation tillage, crop rotation, cover crops, and soil moisture monitoring to improve soil health and reduce irrigation water use. Many farmers utilize funding and technical assistance from NRCS to work toward their conservation goals. These efforts are paying dividends. The Field to Market agricultural alliance estimates that, compared to 30 years ago, a bushel of corn today is produced using less than half the irrigation water and 44 percent less energy consumption. Production of this same bushel of corn results in 67 percent less soil erosion and 36 percent less greenhouse gas emissions. Water Grows sees this as dramatic proof that American corn farmers are making significant strides in their efficient use of natural resources.
Planting the seeds of awareness
Water Grows uses on-farm experiences, website resources, videos, social media, and feature articles to help consumers and policy makers aware of the progress farmers are making in water and natural resource conservation to benefit the lives of Texans. Water Grows provides resources and information on topics such as regenerative agriculture, food safety, economic impacts of agriculture, crop science, and personal profiles of farmers committed to sustainability and conservation. Water Grows also participates in a number of meetings and conferences throughout the state (including the Texas Groundwater Summit) to share how farmers drive economic vitality and conserve natural resources. Videos, event details, and more information can be found online at WaterGrows.org or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at @WaterGrows.
Water Grows’ signature events are “Field to Fork” dinners, which are top-notch events held on farms throughout the state in cooperation with farming families. Journalists, online and community influencers, and regional and national decision makers are invited to outdoor dinners taking place miles, and sometimes only feet, from where the night’s fare was grown. Visitors break bread with the farmers and get a firsthand experience of where their food comes from. Combatting misconceptions about food and agriculture, a common message of Field to Fork events is that nobody cares more about conserving water and protecting the land than those farmers and families whose livelihoods depend on it.
The groundwater connection
Water Grows recognizes the importance of the groundwater resource and appreciates the local efforts of groundwater conservation districts to conserve this key resource for agriculture and rural economies. Water Grows encourages GCDs to utilize the online and other resources provided by Water Grows to help spread the word about the importance of agricultural groundwater conservation, the role NRCS can play in assisting farmers with groundwater conservation efforts, and to highlight the conservation efforts already being made by Texas farmers.