Olton farmer switching to cattle as Ogallala Aquifer depletes

Published: Nov. 9, 2023 at 5:41 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2023 at 6:18 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OLTON, Texas (KCBD) - The level of the Ogallala Aquifer continues to slowly drop, greatly affecting agriculture and small communities. It has dropped as much as 200 feet in our region alone since the 1950s. One Olton farmer is having to change his operation because of it.

Kody Carson has been farming since the 80s.

“It’s not the easiest life, but it provides a lot of benefits,” Carson said, adding that it hasn’t become any easier lately.

“I’ve seen drier times the last four years than I have almost my entire farming career,” Carson said.

Usually during droughts, Carson said farmers can rely on the water beneath us in the Ogallala Aquifer.

“In the past we could make it through because we could pump more water out of the Ogallala,” Carson said. “We don’t have that luxury anymore.”

Carson grew corn and cotton for years. He said those require a lot of water at a very specific time. So, as it goes down, he said he knew he had to do something different.

“Six to eight years ago we realized that as the Ogallala declines, we have to shift our focus if we have to be sustainable and try to be a better steward of our land and our resources,” Carson said.

Now, Carson has cattle and grows some crops to feed them.

“It just made sense to start looking back that direction,” Carson said. “So, we’re shifting more to stocker calves on wheat and then also running a cow calf operation.”

Carson said that will have a greater impact on small towns as more farmers begin to change their operations.

“As this aquifer continues to decline and we transition, you’re going to see a decrease in population in a lot of these smaller towns,” Carson said. “It’s hard on the schools, it’s hard on the local businesses.”