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Farmers Restore Native Grasslands as Groundwater Disappears

A farmer tosses unscented laundry detergent into a stock tank at his Muleshoe, Texas, on April 19, 2021.

A farmer tosses unscented laundry detergent into a stock tank at his Muleshoe, Texas, on April 19, 2021.

Photographer: Mark Rogers/AP Photo

Muleshoe, Texas (AP) -- For decades, the Texas Panhandle was green with cotton, corn and wheat. Wells drew a thousand gallons (3,785 liters) a minute from the seemingly bottomless Ogallala aquifer, allowing farmers to thrive despite frequent dry spells and summer heat.

But groundwater that sustained generations is drying up, creating another problem across the Southern plains: Without enough rain or groundwater for crops, soil can blow away — as it did during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.