Crop Physiology, Management & Modeling
Carlos J. Fernandez, Ph.D.
The overarching goal of the Crop Physiology, Management and Modeling program is to conduct research focused on the development of improved management systems for an efficient production of food and non-food crops that enhance the competitiveness of the farming enterprise while preserving natural resources.
- Characterize the water economy of cotton genotypes, identify the associated anatomical and physiological attributes controlling water use, and transfer this information to geneticists and breeders to advance the development of drought-tolerant cultivars.
- Analyze and develop tactical and strategic crop management practices to optimize production and maximize net returns of main crops in the region.
- Develop Web-based mechanistic crop simulation models and other computational tools and integrate them into an on-line system to support crop management research and provide growers technological assistance to optimize crop production.
- Designed and built fully automated facility for continuously monitoring whole-plant water use of 128 specimens under controlled water regimes. This facility will initiate research operations to advance the development of drought-tolerant cotton cultivars in Spring 2010.
Demonstrated that yields of cotton and grain sorghum can be maintained while decreasing seeding rates to about 30% of the rates recommended by seed companies, thus reducing production costs, and that yields of these two crops can be increased by planting narrow rows 10-26% over conventional row spacing, except under severe drought. Both practices increased net returns.
Developed the Crop-Weather Program for South Texas, an on-line decision support system for researchers and crop managers (http://CWP.tamu.edu). CWP provides access to hourly and daily weather data collected from a network of 20 stations located in the Coastal Plains and a suite of crop simulation models and other computational tools. As of November 2009 there were 884 registered users, who used CWP 18,950 times from December 2008 to November 2009.
TAMU’s Department Soil & Crop Sciences, Texas AgriLife Research & Ext. Ctrs. at Uvalde, Lubbock, and Beaumont, Agricultural County Agents and farmers in District 11, Texas State Soil & Water Conservation Board, U.S. Geological Survey, TAMU-Corpus Christi, Cotton Incorporated, Arysta Life Science, Monsanto Corporation.