The New Mexico State Agricultural Science Center in Tucumcari is hosting its annual field day Thursday to discuss new crop research and advise farmers on water conservation and farm management techniques.
Rex Kirksey, superintendent of the science center, said water supply in the Arch Hurley Conservancy District fell below a sustainable level in the last decade.
Researchers at the science center have focused their efforts in recent years to implement growing strategies for crops that may have to endure periods with limited or no irrigation.
“If you have no water at all, you obviously don’t irrigate. That certainly was the situation last year,” Kirksey said. “The difficult part becomes, for a farmer approaching the growing season, you don’t know if there’s going to be water in the lakes you can irrigate, so you have to plan your cropping strategy such that you can take advantage of water that can show up at a moment’s notice.”
During the field day’s hay wagon tour, Leonard Lauriault, forage agronomist at the science center, will give a five-to-ten minute presentation on farming grain soybeans in eastern New Mexico. He said soybeans are typically grown further east in areas around Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, and in more northern regions of the United States with favorable precipitation and soil pH levels.
The science center planted grain soybeans this year to study because the high-protein, low-yield forage crop also produces powerful seeds.
“Soybean oil is very convertible to biodiesel, and when that oil is extracted from the bean, then the protein concentration of that bean goes up and it’s a protein supplement for a livestock diet,” Lauriault said. “This is a crop that could work out very well for eastern New Mexico with the dairies and the biofuel situation.”
Researchers have grown dry land as well as irrigated soybeans to demonstrate methods of incorporating the crop into dry regions.
However, Lauriault said the annual field day is not solely for the benefit of area farmers, but for residents of all ages and backgrounds.
“Agriculture seems like one of the things that we just kind of take for granted, because a lot of people figure that their food comes from the grocery, but it has to get to the grocery first. It is good for urbanites to understand where their food comes from so they can have a respect for that fact, but also so they can step up and say, ‘You know what? We’d better be taking care of this industry because it’s really important to us,’” Lauriault said. “It’s important to us because it provides our food, but it’s also important to us in a rural situation because that’s the economic base that actually keeps the grocery stores in business.”
The event is open to the public and free of charge.
• Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. Dinner, catered by Del’s Restaurant, starts at 5:30 p.m. Dinner program starts at 6 p.m. Hay wagon tour starts at 6:45 p.m., followed by refreshments at 8:30 p.m.
• Welcome and introductions by Rex Kirksey, superintendent of NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari
• Opening remarks by Dave Thompson, associate dean & director, Agricultural Experiment Station at NMSU, Las Cruces
Hay wagon tour
• Sangu Angadi, crop physiologist at NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, will discuss tillage practices to improve water conservation.
• John Idowu, extension specialist at NMSU, Las Cruses, will discuss soil health.
• Leonard Lauriault, forage agronomist at NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Tucumari, will discuss grain soybeans for eastern New Mexico.
• Tom Dominguez, Quay County Extension Service agricultural agent, will discuss wheat variety evaluations and weed management.
• Rex Kirksey, superintendent of NMSU Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari, will discuss short-season, limited-irrigated annual forages.