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Bingaman to speak on renewable energy at Clovis science center's field day

CLOVIS, N.M. - The potential for renewable energy in agriculture and eastern New Mexico's contributions to biofuel efforts will be topics of interest at the annual field day at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Clovis.

Mark Marsalis, an Extension agronomist at the Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, talks to visitors at a recent field day. The annual field day is scheduled for Aug. 18.(NMSU photo by Audry Olmsted)

The featured keynote speaker at the event will be U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman. The field day is scheduled for Aug. 18.

"This annual event is designed to help producers become more productive and efficient through education, and to also inform community citizens not familiar with regional agricultural practices of some of the current issues we are facing in today's challenging agricultural climate," said Mark Marsalis, an agronomist with the Cooperative Extension Service (CES) at the science center.

"A large portion of the Clovis center's research and Extension efforts are directed toward renewable energy and natural resource conservation," said Rex Kirksey, the center's superintendent. "Since the center's interests and efforts are closely aligned with Sen. Bingaman's service as chairman of the senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee, we thought it would be fitting to ask him to be our keynote speaker for this field day where we are focusing on agriculture's role in sustainability."

Interest in green energy is increasing across the country, Marsalis said, and current research at the Clovis center is attempting to address the feasibility of different biofuel feedstocks and wind energy potential for New Mexico.

At the field day, Dick Auld, who holds an endowed chair at Texas Tech University and is a renowned biodiesel crop breeder, will discuss projects related to water-efficient biodiesel crops. Current projects at the agricultural science center are investigating production of such oil crops as canola and sunflowers.

Gene Hendrick, an economic development specialist with the Clovis Industrial Development Corp., will give an update on new industrial opportunities and efforts promoted by the CIDC and Chamber of Commerce for industry expansion for farmers and dairymen alike.

Luis Estrada and Martin Gomez, of NMSU's Institute for Energy and the Environment, will provide information on the potential for wind industry development in the eastern part of the state based on wind data results obtained from the Clovis center's meteorological tower.

Robert Hagevoort, Extension dairy specialist, will give information on the dairy industry's efforts in renewable energy production and will highlight ongoing efforts to improve dairy profitability and sustainability through energy recycling.

"The large presence of the dairy industry in the region demands more water-use efficient silage cropping systems to feed large quantities of cows with declining resources," Marsalis said.

Sangu Angadi, crop stress physiologist, will discuss sorghum and legume intercropping systems aimed at providing high-quality feed while utilizing fewer resources.

Marsalis will discuss the pros and cons of corn and sorghum silage production under limited water conditions and recent research results showing the effects of lowering farmer inputs, such as seed and nitrogen fertilizer.

Naveen Puppala, a peanut breeder, will give an update on his projects aimed at increasing productivity through drought tolerance and improving peanut quality through high oleic lines.

Jon Boren, CES associate dean and director, will provide opening remarks at the field day, as well as updates on the Extension program during lunch.

Registration for the field day starts at 8 a.m., and the introduction starts at 9:15 a.m. The field tours start at 9:30 a.m. Bingaman will speak at noon. The events of the day will culminate in a lunch at 12:45 p.m., provided by donations from area businesses.

A map to the science center is available at http://clovissc.nmsu.edu.

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 Marsalis at (575) 985-2292 or marsalis@nmsu.edu.