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NMSU's Tucumcari field day to focus on alternative crops, conservation

TUCUMCARI, N.M. - One of the biggest challenges farmers face is how they are going to sustain their livelihood with limited water and other natural resources.

Sangu Angadi, a crop physiologist with New Mexico State University, talks to attendees at a recent field day about his research at the Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari. This year's event will be on Aug. 5. (NMSU photo by Audry Olmsted)

Researchers at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari plan to give tips to farmers on proper water conservation techniques and cropping alternatives at its annual field day Aug. 5. The field day is free and open to the public.

"When you live in a semi-arid environment, you are constantly aware of the importance of water for crop production," said Rex Kirksey, superintendent of the science center. "For a number of years, farmers in the Tucumcari area have had little or no water for irrigation. As a result, the Tucumcari center's research focus has shifted to strategies for producing crops through improved water conservation techniques and selection of crops and cropping systems adapted to limited irrigation. This year's field day will showcase some of those projects."

This year's event will have something to meet everyone's needs and interests.

Leonard Lauriault, forage agronomist at the science center, will discuss using grain soybeans as an alternative crop in eastern New Mexico.

Producers are constantly on the lookout for viable alternative crops to help them save money and maintain their livelihood. With the recent increased interest in biofuel, researchers are looking more and more at harnessing the power of oil seeds, Lauriault said. In addition to the different benefits and uses of oilseeds for biofuels, oilseed byproducts make good protein supplements for food rations for livestock.

At the field day, attendees will get to see different varieties of grain soybeans planted in irrigated and dryland fields to see how the different growing conditions affect the crop.

Also during the tour, Sangu Angadi, a crop physiologist, will discuss tillage practices to improve water conservation.

John Idowu, an Extension agronomist, will talk about soil health at the field day.

Tom Dominguez, Quay County Extension agricultural agent, will give information about evaluating wheat varieties, as well as managing weeds.

Kirksey will talk about short-season, and limited-irrigated annual forages.

"We are going to be talking about new crop options and forage options at this year's field day, as well as how to improve small grains management, soil health and water conservation," Lauriault said. "We are excited because the results from our research at the science center are a great benefit to not only the people in Tucumcari, but also to producers around the region and into Texas."

David Thompson, the new associate dean and director of NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station, will provide remarks during the after-dinner program.

Registration for the field day starts at 4:30 p.m. Dinner starts at 5:30 p.m. and the dinner program begins at 6 p.m. The hay wagon tour starts at 6:45 p.m.

The science center is located 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.