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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Extension, conservation experts to discuss drought farming in Carlsbad March 27

Eddy County and New Mexico have one of the most variable rainfall climates in the world. In the last 10 years, the area has seen three years of good rainfall and three years of drought conditions.

New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service in Eddy County, the Carlsbad Irrigation District, Natural Resource and Conservation Service, Eddy County Farm and Livestock Bureau and Carlsbad Soil and Water Conservation District are hosting a discussion group March 27 in Carlsbad on farming in a drought. The discussion is 7-9 p.m. in the conference room of the Eddy County Extension office, 1304 West Stevens.

"The risk of serious environmental damage, particularly through vegetation loss and soil erosion, has long-term implications for the sustainability of our agricultural industries," said Woods Houghton, agricultural Extension agent for Eddy County. "Water quality suffers and toxic algae outbreaks may occur. Plants and animals are threatened. Wild fires and dust storms are also more prevalent during dry times."

People that live on the land feel weather extremes the most, whether through drought or floods, heat or cold. Agriculture suffers first and most severely, Houghton said, yet the impact is eventually felt by everyone.

"Drought disrupts cropping programs, reduces breeding stock, and threatens permanent erosion of the capital and resource base of farming enterprises," said Houghton. "Declining productivity affects rural areas such as Eddy County as well as the state and national economy."

These fluctuations have many causes, but the strongest is the climate phenomenon called the Southern Oscillation. This is a major air pressure shift between the Asian and east Pacific regions; its best-known extreme is El Niņo, Houghton said. 2012 is predicted to be moderately dry compared against last year's extremely dry conditions.

At the discussion, John Idowu, an NMSU Extension agronomist; and Robert Flynn, an Extension soil scientist will present information to attendees about how to best to manage their farms during periods of limited rainfall.

For more information about the discussion or if an attendee has a disability and is need of assistance to participate in this meeting, contact Eddy County Extension before March 23 at 575-887-6595.