And let the opinions fly
Here's my opinion. I'm an armchair farmer. I read about what people are doing and try to assimilate it into theoretical farms in my mind. Here's what I think I know.
There is a cotton farmer in the Panhandle using a no-till method that keeps him in tall cotton every year. This is not to say he has the best crops, but he does make the most profit in his area. Here's how. At the end of the season, instead of spraying to kill the cotton tops, he mows them down and leaves them in place as a mulch. This leaves the plant roots intact in the ground. During the cotton season he sprays his plants with 1 gallon of liquid molasses per acre and he does this 4 times. That is his entire program. Oh, and he stopped irrigating a couple years ago. What happens is this, his roots remain in the soil all year. This allows a cluster of beneficial fungi to grow on his roots. When the plant needs water, the cotton roots do not grow deep enough but the beneficial fungi can grow yards deep into the soil and actually retrieve moisture for the plants. Do they get enough water? Well, his plants are greener longer into a drought and about the same in normal years. But once the neighbors start watering, their plants come out bigger than his. So what's the logic in this? Think about it. During a normal year his production is the same as his neighbors. During a drought his production is less than his neighbors by a significant amount. Here's the beauty: he has no irrigation costs. He has no irrigation equipment, no extra labor, no personal time, no parts to buy, no maintenance, no storage, no equipment to move it, no buildings to store it, no equipment insurance to buy, and no maintenance on the buildings he doesn't have. In the end he makes a lot more because his expenses are hardly anything.
Here's another idea that is not about crop farming. Livestock are being used in the Sonoran desert to revive and restore prairie grasses. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere. Assuming you are starting with sterile soil, you can bring in cattle and scatter hay bales around for them to eat. At the same time, scatter tall fescue, alfalfa, and red clover seed. Don't do anything special, just scatter it and let the animals work their magic. Select your hay for the forage you want to have right away. The cattle will eat the hay, scatter some seeds, spread manure around, and punch the seed and manure into the soil with their feet. You'll find the seeds growing first in the cattle's footprints. Before I forget, you have to provide water and mineral for the animals. In your area you might start with 2 animals per 10 acres keeping them fed with the hay. Keep them fenced to 10 acres, too. You can move the hay around to keep the animals moving. After feeding them on the 10 acres for 2 weeks, move them to a different 10 acres and continue the process. Two weeks later move them to a third pasture. Build yourself at least 8 pastures like this and preferable 16 or more. What you will be doing is basically planting seed in the fields using the cattle to do the work for you. Then you take the cows off the field to let the grass grow by itself. At the end of the rotation your first field will have had no animals on it for 16 to 32 weeks. You should have pretty tall grass there by that time. Bring the animals back to eat the grass and it may be so thick that you don't have to feed any supplemental hay. Have the hay on hand anyway. The second time around the rotation you will need less supplemental for sure. Each time around your grass will thicken up and grow taller between feedings. In time your fencelines will begin to look like a forest of native grass on your side and a bare rock desert on the outside. The only difference is proper animal management. You'll also find that with 100% coverage of native grasses, you no longer have any erosion or soil loss. You'll also find your old tanks no longer hold water. That's because the water never flows to them. All the water will sink in and feed the grasses or fill the rising underground water table. There's a guy in Mason using this technique on 2,000 of his 3,000 acres. He manages his cattle so that they all calve in the same week in the spring. He doesn't wean until about October and takes them to market at 675 pounds in November. Again, his costs are nil. He uses no fertilizer, medicines, insecticide, herbicide, seed, irrigation, labor, equipment, or buildings. He gets the same $700 to $900 per cwt as the neighbors, but his expenses are about $35/cwt while his neighbors spend up to $400/cwt. One more trick to this is the management of manure. If you find you have no dung beetles distributing your manure, then you need to bring in chickens to do that for you. Let the manure ripen for 3 days after you rotate the cattle out and bring in chickens to scratch through it in search of parasites and flies. They will spread your manure for you so you don't have to. Plus they clean up the parasites and flies so you don't have to. You can either eat the chickens or just collect eggs, but you need something to manage your manure. But first give the dung beetles a chance. They are the best. There's more on this but I'm already beyond my limit