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NMSU names Kevin Lombard superintendent of Farmington agricultural science center

FARMINGTON ? New Mexico State University?s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington is entering its 50th year of existence with new leadership.


Man with long goatee beard
Kevin Lombard assumes the superintendent position at New Mexico State University?s Agricultural Science Center at Farmington. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

Kevin Lombard became the superintendent of the science center in November 2015 after Rick Arnold retired from the position.

?Kevin has worked with the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry, small-acreage farmers on the Navajo Nation, and the general agricultural community in the San Juan River basin since 2007,? said Steven Loring, associate director of the Agricultural Experimental Station System, as he announced Lombard?s new assignment. ?We appreciate his enthusiasm for agricultural research in the Four Corners region.?

?I?m excited about the challenge of this position,? Lombard said. ?I?ve been reviewing the documents that established this center in 1966 and I want to ensure that we continue to serve the agriculture community of the whole San Juan Basin.

?Agriculture has been a vital part of the San Juan Basin for centuries,? he said. ?With the oil and gas boom beginning in the 1950s, agriculture has taken a back seat to the energy industry. Now the region?s economy is really vulnerable to the oil and gas industry collapsing because of lower prices.?

Because of this economic impact, Lombard wants to pursue research at the science center that can help maintain stability in the region?s economic base.

?I want us to continue to evaluate specialty horticulture crops that could help improve the agriculture community?s contribution to the area?s economics,? he said.

NMSU has had a working relationship with NAPI since the center?s beginning. Current research, including crop variety tests and weed control research, will continue at the science center.

?NAPI and the Navajo Nation are always going to be our close partners,? Lombard said of the Navajo corporation and sovereign Navajo Nation that surrounds the experimental farm. ?I imagine we will continue pivot irrigation agriculture projects with them. We are unique among all the experimental farms in the statewide system, and perhaps North America, with this relationship.?

Since Lombard?s arrival in Farmington, he has conducted research in alternative crops for the San Juan River basin, including grapes, hops and medicinal herbs, and also taught horticulture classes at San Juan College in Farmington.

?I?m expecting this work to continue, including our relationship with San Juan College,? he said.

He also introduced the Garden for Health project that is helping promote home gardening in the eastern region of the Navajo Nation.

?Diabetes is a major health concern for the Navajo Nation,? Lombard said. ?The Garden of Health project began because we realized Native Americans living on the reservation do not have easy access to vegetables for a healthy diet.?

During the summer of 2015, Lombard was actively involved with monitoring heavy metal contamination of the soil along the Animus and San Juan rivers caused by the Gold King Mine sludge spill at Silverton, Colorado.

?For a horticulture researcher, the spill was a once-in-a-career opportunity to study the effects of a spill that contains heavy metals,? he said. ?NMSU Extension and research faculty and staff were among the first emergency responders assisting agricultural producers. The collective NMSU response made me proud to be an NMSU employee. We are committed to the long-term monitoring of the spill?s impact.?