Ellen Peffley, Ph.D.
Professor of Horticulture, Department of Plant and Soil Science
TTU, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Box 42122, Lubbock, TX 79409
806.742.2637 I 806.742.1898
Dr. Ellen Peffley is a Professor of Horticulture in the Department of Plant and Soil Science at
Texas Tech University. She has published numerous research articles and conference
proceedings, and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the
American Society for Horticultural Science: Southern Region, the Council for Agricultural Science
and Technology and others.
Q. Why do you research water issues? and the industry reduces it to powder for use
Water is the number one limiting factor in in its products.
agricultural production on the high plains of
Texas. Water is a precious and renewable Q. Tell me about the tools or equipment
resource, globally speaking, but here that you use.
regionally, it’s not so renewable. We in We have a field breeding program so we
agriculture are good stewards of water since use the usual land equipment such as
we use it wisely especially in the issue of tractors, discs, ploughs, planters, and
plant production. combines; we also use fertilizers and
pesticides. We have significant lab and
Q. Tell me about the theme of your greenhouse research. We have equipment
research. for extracting and analyzing gum from pods;
We are interested in providing crops that for analyzing the enzymes and DNA of
can be grown on the South Plains, various beeding lines to determine how
especially those of economic value such as closely related they are; microscopes are
cotton or guar. Guar is a crop that has been used to look at the trichomes (hair) on the
around for decades, but which has not been guar leaves – the more trichomes the guar
grown in large acreage. It is wise to rotate has, the more drought tolerant it can be. The
crops when you grow cotton and guar is an greenhouse offers an alternative growing
ideal rotation crop as it helps to rebuild the season to advance breeding lines and
soil. As a legume, it is able to be a net harvest seed during the winter months.
nitrogen contributor to the soil. The second
positive for guar is that since it is a legume, Q. Are there any noteworthy results that
the pathogens that attack cotton may not you would like us to publicize?
attack guar. The third positive for guar is that Texas Tech University is the first university
it can easily follow a hailed out cotton crop to have guar lines issued Plant Variety
and finally, it is drought-tolerant. Protection (PVP), which is similar to a
patent. Our research involves intellectual
Q. Why did you choose this research property and the PVP is one way to protect
area? this investmen. There are two guar cultivars
A private company came to TTU, since it being grown currently that are Texas Tech
had affiliations with the university, and asked PVP lines.
us if we were interested in developing
improved varieties of guar. Guar has Q. With whom do you collaborate?
multiple uses in several major industries: it is I work with Dick Auld, Ph.D., another
used in the petroleum industry, for example, professor here at Texas Tech and my
and is also used in products ranging from industry colleagues.
baked goods and salad dressing to carpet
glue, cosmetics, and the dynamite industry. Q. What is your favorite water fact?
In some cultures, the bean pod is used as It’s great to swim in! ……but seriously, we
food, but it’s an effective laxative so you also have NASA-funded hydroponic
need to be careful! Farmers sell the seed research going on TTU, not just water
conservation. It’s very interesting to be a
part of it.