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Tucumcari science center looks at managing crops, livestock in drought conditions

TUCUMCARI, N.M. - The Tucumcari area has not yet received any irrigation water this year, leaving producers to largely rely on natural precipitation to keep their crops growing. Researchers with New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari plan to give producers ideas to help them manage crops and livestock during drought conditions at the annual field day on Aug. 6.

Jamshid Ashigh, an Extension weed specialist, talks to participants at the 2008 field day in Tucumcari. The science center's annual field day will be held Aug. 6. (Photo courtesy of Rex Kirksey)

Rex Kirksey, superintendent of the science center, said this is the eighth consecutive year the Tucumcari area has seen little to no available irrigation water. Water allocations since 2002 have averaged less than five inches per year in the Arch Hurley Conservancy District, and there have been no water allocations in three of those years.

"These circumstances have created severe challenges for area producers," Kirksey said. "These conditions have forced local farmers and the Tucumcari science center to look for alternative ways to maintain crop production and cut production costs."

Because of the water situation in the local area, Kirksey said, Tim Farmer, District VII supervisor for the Office of the State Engineer, will be the keynote speaker at the field day. Farmer will present basic information about the state engineer's role in water rights matters pertaining to the Canadian River watershed, which includes the Tucumcari area.

This year's field day, Kirksey said, will feature on-station projects and invited speakers who have information that will be beneficial and interesting to area residents.

"We hope the people who attend the field day will be able to use the information presented to manage their crop production during this difficult time," Kirksey said. "We also want livestock producers to take away tips on the care and selection of their beef cow herds as well as how to manage horses in drought conditions."

At the field day, Sangu Angadi, a crop physiologist at the Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, will discuss tillage and cropping systems for non-irrigated crop production. Leonard Lauriault, a forage agronomist at the Tucumcari center, will talk about the biofuel potential of common grasses in eastern New Mexico.

Manny Encinias, an Extension beef cattle specialist at the Clayton Livestock Research Center, will give information on the Tucumcari Bull Test and how DNA markers and performance test data can be used for beef cattle improvement.

Tom Dominguez, an agricultural agent for the Quay County Extension office, will discuss the control of noxious weeds. Jason Turner, an Extension horse specialist, will offer tips for managing horses in drought conditions.

Registration for the field day starts at 4:30 p.m., and dinner, sponsored by area businesses, starts at 5:30 p.m. The dinner program starts at 6 p.m.

LeRoy Daugherty, associate dean and director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, and Jon Boren, associate dean and director of CES, will provide opening remarks. The dinner program will also include Farmer's presentation "Water Rights 101".

A hay wagon tour of the center begins at 6:45 p.m. Refreshments will be served after the tour.

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

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