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Keeping the Ogallala alive

The Ogallala Aquifer supports millions of acres of crop and grazing land in the nation's Plains, making the underground reservoir arguably the most important natural resource to that region's farmers and ranchers. But its future is in question: Though it won't last forever, there are ways to curtail its drawdown, experts say, and make it a continued piece of the crop and livestock production puzzle for the region for generations to come. Here's some of the latest on its status and how it can be preserved for the future.

Cutting back to stretch the Ogallala
Easing cattle's Ogallala squeeze




Reducing the amount of water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer, though initially cutting corn output by around 15%, could extend the functional lifespan of the vital underground water stockpile by as much as three decades.

That would allow technology for crop genetics, irrigation, and machinery to catch up and theoretically make up exponentially more ground in the fight to raise enough crops to feed a growing human race.

The dangers of a dwindling Ogallala Aquifer don't end in the crops sector. Much of the nation's beef cattle industry lies atop the underground water supply.

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