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Tucumcari field day focuses on water and production management issues

Water issues, strategies for improving the efficiency of agricultural production and management of the No. 1 cash crop in New Mexico will be the highlights of discussion at the Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari's Annual Field Day Aug. 7

New Mexico State University forage agronomist Leonard Lauriault discusses research at the Tucumcari Agricultural Science Center during the center's 2007 field day. Lauriault and other researchers will give the community an update on their work at this year's field day, set for Aug. 7. (NMSU photo by Darrell J. Pehr)

"The lack of water is at the forefront of agricultural production concerns in the Tucumcari area," said Rex Kirksey, superintendent of the Agricultural Science Centers at Tucumcari and Clovis.

Because of this, the center has invited Bruce Richardson, with the Office of the State Engineer, to talk about the Canadian River Watershed and the availability of water in the Arch Hurley Conservancy District, as it pertains to water use per decrees and permits in the watershed.

"The center will also host a hay wagon tour of the center that will feature a number of speakers who will be talking about a range of production management issues," Kirksey said.

During the tour, Manny Encinias, an extension beef cattle specialist with New Mexico State University's Clayton Livestock Research Center, will discuss beef cattle bio-security and provide recommendations to improve ranch security. Tom Dominguez, extension agricultural agent with the Quay County Extension Service, will talk about options for controlling mesquite and yucca on rangeland. Sangu Angadi, a crop physiologist, and Sultan Begna, a research specialist with the Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, will discuss a sorghum-legume intercropping study, which is being evaluated for its potential to produce high quality forage with limited water and nitrogen inputs, and Jamshid Ashigh, an extension weed specialist, with Extension Plant Sciences, will discuss weed management strategies for producers in the Tucumcari area.

Leonard Lauriault, a forage agronomist with the Tucumcari Center, will conduct a tour of his research projects that pertain to all things alfalfa, from irrigation management and herbicide options to its termination and reintroduction as well as fall harvest management.

"Alfalfa is good for the environment in that it provides the highest yield-feed value compromise for the water it uses, saves on fertilizer costs and application rates, provides fertilizer to the next non-legume crop, provides wildlife habitat and conserves soil. It really is good from below the ground up," Lauriault said.

Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. Kirksey said the $12 registration fee per person is being paid by the Southwest Border Food Safety and Defense Center at New Mexico State University.

Dinner is at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner program starts at 6 p.m. Hay wagon tours start at 6:45 p.m. followed by refreshments at 8:30 p.m.

Kirksey said for a number of years, the center has used a late afternoon to early evening format for its field day as it allows people to come to the center after working hours and enjoy a meal and informational program at the center's park-like setting. The Tucumcari Center is NMSU's oldest off-campus research facility and has been the site of tree and shrub evaluations for many years.

Kirksey said they were fortunate that employees at the center had the foresight to plant ornamental and windbreak trees and shrubs soon after the center was founded in 1912.

The program, Kirksey said, has been approved for five New Mexico Pesticide Applicator License continuing education units.

The science center is 3 miles northeast of Tucumcari on Highway 54.

For more information about the field day, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Kirksey in advance at (575) 461-1620 or email rkirksey@nmsu.edu.