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NMSU's Tucumcari Science Center Hosts Field Day Aug. 1

TUCUMCARI - As New Mexico's blistering drought slogs forward, farmers can learn about innovative ways to deal with water shortages during an evening field day Aug. 1 at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari.

"It's been a bad year for crop production in the Tucumcari area," said Rex Kirksey, science center superintendent.

Due to a shortage of water in Conchas Lake, the region's primary source of irrigation water, the Arch Hurley Conservancy District has allocated only three acre-inches of irrigation water this spring, instead of the normal 18 to 24 inches. Then, because of low lake levels, water releases to the conservancy district ended on June 10.

"This water shortage has forced both the science center and local farmers to develop irrigation plans to minimize water use," Kirksey said. "At this year's field day, we'll be looking a at ways to help producers cope with limited supplies of water."

Field day registration begins at 5 p.m. and a barbecue dinner, catered by K-Bob's Steakhouse, will be served at 5:30 p.m. Area businesses are sponsoring the dinner for participants.

The program, which is free and open to the public, begins at 6:15 p.m. with a presentation from Jerry Schickedanz, dean of NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, followed by research updates on the Tucumcari science center by Kirksey, NMSU forage agronomist Leonard Lauriault and Jason Sawyer, a livestock specialist at the Clayton Livestock Research Center.

Jim Libbin, an agricultural economist with NMSU's Agricultural Experiment Station, will discuss farm management strategies for drought. The evening program will end with a review of plans for a major irrigation improvement project by members of the Arch Hurley Conservancy District's Board of Directors.

The conservancy district gets its water for irrigation from Conchas Lake, which is located 34 miles northwest of Tucumcari. Much of the water, which is conveyed from the lake to the district through a 40-mile unlined canal, is lost because of seepage. "The district has developed a plan to line the Conchas canal and convey the captured carriage loss, via pipeline, to the Pecos River," Kirksey said. "They'll be using our field day to present details of the plan to farmers in the district and the general public."

In addition to the field day, a separate livestock drought management seminar will be held at the Tucumcari Convention Center in Tucumcari earlier in the day. The workshop, sponsored by NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, will give the region's ranchers a firsthand look at their options for financial survival during drought, said Ron Parker, head of NMSU's Extension animal resources department. The seminar will be held from 1 p.m. to approximately 5 p.m., and is free and open to the public. For more information about the livestock drought workshop, contact Parker at (505) 646-1709.

The Tucumcari center, established in 1912, is NMSU's oldest off-campus research facility. The facility, located on NMSU land, was originally one of 30 dryland field stations run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the West. In 1949, operation of the Tucumcari center was transferred to NMSU. The center is home to the annual Tucumcari Bull Test and Performance- tested Sale that began more than 40 years ago.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in these seminars, please call Kirksey at (505) 461-1620 or your county Extension office in advance.