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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Irrigation Efficiency Showcased at Turf and Tree Field Day May 21

LAS CRUCES - Efficient irrigation systems, along with reviews of the water stingy varieties for New Mexico's blistering summers, will be featured at a turf and tree field day May 21 at New Mexico State University's Fabian Garcia Research Center.

Bernhard Leinauer, a turfgrass specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service, checks irrigation efficiency monitors in preparation for a turf and tree field day May 21 at NMSU's Fabian Garcia Research Center. (04/26/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by J. Victor Espinoza)

"The daylong program offers something for everyone from homeowners to professional turfgrass managers," said Bernhard Leinauer, turfgrass specialist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service. "One of the field day highlights is our new 41,000-square-foot series of subsurface drip and sprinkler irrigated plots. The goal is to show that subsurface irrigation is a viable alternative to sprinklers."

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the program starts at 8 a.m. at the center just west of the main campus. The cost of the field day is $5, which includes lunch. The program kicks off with a welcome from Jerry Schickedanz, dean of NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics, followed by updates on irrigation studies, turf variety trials and tree research.

Construction on NMSU's ubsurface drip irrigation project for turf began two years ago, Leinauer said. Sponsored by the U.S. Golf Association, Toro Co., and the Rio Grande Basin Initiative, it was seeded about a year ago and is now fully established. Creeping bentgrass, used on many of the state's golf greens, was selected because it is one of the most intensively maintained grasses in New Mexico.

In drip irrigation, water is applied directly to plant roots through a series of black plastic lines or drip tape buried more than a foot deep. Using subsurface irrigation reduces wind drift, Leinauer said. "All too often during our windy season we have water blowing all the way to Texas," he said.

One of the turf trial's primary features is an alternating series of 5 percent slopes followed by flat areas. "Whenever the subject of subsurface irrigation comes up, the first question is, 'Does it work in sloped areas?'" Leinauer said. "It was an important factor in designing the experiment."

NMSU's turf team will also present an update on their statewide research project of 32 different grasses in side-by-side trials for hardiness, cold tolerance and water use. The 5-by-5 foot plots look like a giant checkerboard when viewed from above. The trials began in 2001 at NMSU's agricultural science centers in Los Lunas, Artesia and Tucumcari; a golf course in Albuquerque; and the Fabian Garcia Research Center.

In addition, the morning program will feature a talk on irrigation requirements of native trees and a potential new landscape tree for New Mexico, the drought-tolerant bigtooth maple.

During the afternoon, participants can take field tours showing subsurface irrigation in home lawns, salinity test trials at NMSU's golf course and the successful overseeding of turf at NMSU's Aggie Memorial Stadium last summer with Princess 77 Bermuda grass.

For more information or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call (505) 646-5280 in advance. Additional field day information and registration forms are available on NMSU's turfgrass and Extension Web site at http://turf.nmsu.edu.