Texas Cotton: Bill Lyle, LEPA Irrigation Pioneer, Named to Research Hall of Fame

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Dr. Bill Lyle, a Crosby County native who helped pioneer irrigation technology through his leadership in developing the Low Energy Precision Application (LEPA) system, was one of three inductees into the 2017 class of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame.

The program, now in its fourth year, recognizes U.S. cotton industry leaders that have made significant contributions to the Program or to the cotton industry in general.

Dr. Lyle was honored Tuesday evening at a banquet at the joint Cotton Board/Cotton Incorporated Board of Directors Meeting in St. Petersburg, Fla., along with the late Dr. Harold L. “Hal” Lewis (Arkansas) and the late Lawson “Sykes” Martin (Alabama), both of whom demonstrated great leadership in the cotton industry.

“Over the past few decades, the cotton industry has continued to evolve and advance in many ways,” Berrye Worsham, President and CEO of Cotton Incorporated, said in a news release from The Cotton Board. “The tireless dedication and many contributions of the 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees have shaped the industry as we know it today and will further impact future growth and advancement.”

Dr. Lyle was an irrigation engineer for Texas A&M AgriLife Research for many years. He now is retired, but his revolutionary efforts in water efficiency live on the farms of producers across the Cotton Belt.

He grew up about 30 miles east of Lubbock on a farm, and even as he completed his education and went to work in extension and research, he continued to farm on his own through the 1990s.

As a farmer himself, he had a unique perspective in finding solutions to real-world issues on the farm, such as water and energy conservation. He also knew that Ogallala Aquifer levels likely would continue to decline under current irrigation practices.

His most significant accomplishments came through his leadership in developing the LEPA system. Dr. Lyle realized that traditional center pivot systems with sprinklers weren’t as efficient as they could be, losing water to high temperatures and low humidity. He and his team worked to find a solution, and LEPA was born.

“Dr. Bill Lyle truly is deserving of this honor,” PCG Executive Vice President Steve Verett said. “Today, LEPA systems are widely recognized for their irrigation efficiency, and we have a Texas High Plains farmer and highly respected researcher to thank for his visionary approach to conservation.

“Dr. Hal Lewis and Sykes Martin made tremendous contributions to the cotton industry,” Verett said. “They are extremely deserving to be named to the Cotton Research and Promotion Program Hall of Fame, and we miss them greatly.”

More information on the CRPP Hall of Fame is available here.

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