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Southwest Hay and Forage Conference to meet in Ruidoso Jan.15

RUIDOSO -- As water for irrigation becomes increasingly short, irrigation technology and water management must improve in forage systems. The 2015 Southwest Hay & Forage Conference will focus on just that ? how to get the most out of every drop.



Irrigation is the semi-arid Southwest is how New Mexico farmers are able to raise the state?s number one crop ? hay. The Southwest Hay and Forage Conference Jan. 15 in Ruidoso will have presentations on new technology that will help the farmer conserve water. (NMSU Photo by Khushroo Ghadiali)

In addition to ways to conserve water, presentations will be made on international marketing opportunities, novel forage traits and alternative hays.

?This conference provides an opportunity for producers to learn valuable and practical information that can be taken back home with them and utilized on their farms,? said Mark Marsalis, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service agronomist. ?There will be information for all types of forage growers.?

Alfalfa, along with other types of hay, is New Mexico?s number one crop, with 200,000 acres harvested annually. New Mexico farmers raise more than 1.2 million tons of hay with a value of more than $300 million. It is used by the beef cattle producers, dairy industry and equine enthusiasts.

?The drought has had its impact on the hay industry, just as it has on all of agriculture,? Marsalis said. ?The more efficient a farmer can be with this precious natural resource, the better stewards they will be.?

Blair Stringam, NMSU Plant & Environmental Sciences associate professor, will introduce evaportranspiration Internet tools for irrigation scheduling. Farris Hightower of Lindsay Corporation will discuss remote monitoring of center pivot irrigation systems. Dirk Keeler of New Mexico Irrigation will discuss the use of drip irrigation in hay fields.

?Being able to take advantage of new marketing opportunities, novel forage traits and perhaps alternative hays will be critical for hay producers to remain competitive in an ever-shifting and demanding consumer base,? Marsalis said. ?There will be several talks focusing on new technologies in hay.?

New Mexico Department of Agriculture?s Jason New will present international marketing opportunities for the growers to consider.

Advantages of low lignin alfalfa will be presented in two sessions: ?HarvXtra Low Lignin Alfalfa,? by Peter Reisen of Forage Genetics; and ?Managing HiGest Low Lignin Alfalfa,? by Don Miller of Alforex Seeds. Dave Staheli of Staheli West Inc. will discuss using the dewpoint baling moisture system to the grower?s advantage.

Roundup Ready alfalfa acres are on the increase in New Mexico. Calvin Trostle of Texas A&M University will be asking the producers, ?Is Roundup Ready alfalfa for you??

How about an alternative forage and one that fits nicely between alfalfa rotations, such as teff grass? Marsalis will discuss the management of this new forage in New Mexico.

?The conference offers attendees access to a wide variety of the most up-to-date information and technology,? said Justin Boswell, New Mexico Hay Association executive director. ?This event is a destination for a number of vendors and industry persons and offers attendees access to company representatives and their products, even very large equipment, all under the same roof.?

NMHA will hold its annual business meeting Thursday afternoon.

The two-day conference starts at 9 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Ruidoso Convention Center. Preregistration is $100 per person. Attendees can register at the door for $120. Annual membership dues to the association are $45.

For more information on the conference, visit http://www.nmhay.com or contact Cassie Sterrett by phone at 575-626-1688 or by e-mail at nmhay@yahoo.com or contact Boswell at 575-840-9908 or juboswel@yahoo.com.

Marsalis can be contacted at 505-865-7340 or marsalis@nmsu.edu.

Contact Sterrett for a copy of the registration form. Booth space is still available.