Monsanto Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center Manager Chandler Mazour has been appointed to serve on the Water Funding Task Force in Nebraska. Gov. Dave Heineman selected Mazour and 10 other people as part of the new task force “created to make recommendations to the (Nebraska) Legislature for a strategic plan that prioritizes (water) programs, projects, and activities in need of funding,” according to a release issued by the Governor’s office.
“My hope is that I can represent agriculture and the work Monsanto is doing to protect one of our most precious natural resources – water,” said Mazour.
Task force members, who must submit their final recommendations to the Nebraska Legislature on or before Dec. 31, 2013, come from many sectors, including public power, agriculture, wildlife conservation, agribusiness and manufacturing.
“The best assets of Nebraska are water and food production,” Mazour said. “Being part of a team to protect and leverage those assets is an exciting opportunity.”
Mazour’s broad experience in water-based agricultural issues in the High Plains makes him a natural fit for the task force. For seven years, he has managed Monsanto’s Gothenburg Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg, Neb., where Monsanto focuses on researching the relationships between water, plants, agronomics and the environment. In addition, he actively participates in local initiatives, and he is a board member of the local 4-H Foundation.
Growing up on a dryland Nebraska farm, Mazour knows a timely rainfall often can mean the difference between a farmer producing a crop or having no crop in any given year. Farmers in dryland areas face increased weather and drought variability, and those in irrigated areas face restrictions on pumping water for their crops. Rainfall varies across the state of Nebraska, from 34 inches in eastern Nebraska to 14 inches annually in western Nebraska.
“Coming from an ag background, I am very interested in listening to and learning from the other perspectives who will be represented on the task force,” said Mazour. “It also will be a good opportunity to educate others on the critical role that agriculture and food production play not only in Nebraska, but in the everyday lives of people around the country.”
Irrigated agriculture represents approximately 70 percent of the world’s fresh water resources, and contributes 40 percent of the total food produced worldwide. Nebraska has more than 47,000 established farms, with approximately 18 million acres of harvested cropland and 8.5 million acres of irrigated cropland. While center pivot irrigation has become more efficient in recent years, cost and labor is still a challenge.
Add it all up, and it means that we need to promote policy that is grounded in science and technical expertise to improve water usage, noted Mazour.
In addition to the Gothenburg Learning Center, Monsanto’s work with water use and agriculture includes research and development; product innovations; and partnerships.
“I want to bring these initiatives to the forefront,” said Mazour, “because little changes in how we approach water usage can make a big impact.”
Think of it this way, noted Mazour: “If we could save one-half inch of water on every acre of corn in the United States, it would add up to 3.1 trillion gallons. That amount of water could fill Nebraska’s largest lake [Lake McConaughy] eight times.”
Mazour added that he wants to use the Water Task Force appointment to make a difference – to do what’s best for the High Plains farmer and to do what’s best for the state of Nebraska.
“I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but having a seat at the table is a great start,” he said.