Pat Long, a farmer and Texas County Farm Bureau member, was honored with a 2017 Water for 2060 Excellence Award for crop irrigation and agriculture by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board Nov. 1 during the Governor’s Water Conference in Norman, Oklahoma.
Long was recognized for his work to conserve water in the Oklahoma Panhandle using innovative center pivot technology, drought-resistant genetically modified crops and no-till production methods.
“It’s important that people across the state understand the lengths Panhandle producers are going to in order to preserve a valuable natural resource,” Long said.
The Long family has farmed since the 1990s, producing corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum and occasionally sunflowers near Optima, Oklahoma. Using the Ogallala aquifer to irrigate crops, the Longs have utilized technology to steward the water resources since they drilled their first well in 1953.
Because of the innovative irrigation technology, the Longs have reduced total water usage while doubling crop yields. Adapting to no-till and new technologies has allowed the Long family to increase the number of acres relying on a well.
Long is an Oklahoma Panhandle Agriculture and Irrigation Association board member, which has worked with the Panhandle Regional Economic Development Coalition to prepare a comprehensive study of water use and supplies in Beaver, Cimarron and Texas counties. The study revealed better farming techniques and conservation practices have decreased the amount of water usage from the Ogallala aquifer, while agricultural commodities sold in the Panhandle area increased more than 10 percent.
In support of the Oklahoma Water for 2060 Act and recommendations by a special advisory council to the Governor and Legislature, the Water for 2060 Excellence Award program was developed to recognize individuals and entities that make exceptional contributions to the promotion and implementation of water use efficiency and conservation of Oklahoma’s fresh water resources.