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NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde hosts field day

ALCALDE - Looking for ideas on alternate crops to grow in Northern New Mexico? How about ideas on how to get more use from limited acreage? The answer may be at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde, N.M.

The center is hosting its annual field day on Tuesday, Aug. 5, and the staff invites the community to come see what research is being done. NMSU's recently named Interim President Waded Cruzado will be the keynote speaker.

New at the center this year are two demonstration projects - inter-seeding vegetable and forage crops and a market garden.

A Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant has funded the demonstration of research done by the center during the 1990s where four forage crops are inter-seeded with sweet corn and chile to extend the use of the field from vegetable crops to grazing in the fall and spring.

"By combining a frost sensitive primary crop with a secondary crop that tolerates the frost, we are getting a longer crop production and extra use out of the acreage," said Steven Guldan, the center's superintendent. "We are using oats and turnips as a fall forage and hairy vetch and winter rye as spring forage in the demonstration."

Just how much money can a garden in Northern New Mexico's Rio Grande Valley earn at a farmers' market? And what types of vegetables will grow? Those are the questions being answered by the market garden demonstration project.

Despite a late spring, the garden is producing a variety of vegetables that are being harvested by Miguel Sanchez, research assistant at the agriculture science center in Alcalde. The crops will be sold at the local farmers' markets. The study will determine the potential profit available to small acreage farmers.

"The study is about transitioning home gardens to be able to meet the needs of farmers' markets and direct-sale to restaurants," said Edmund Gomez, director of the Rural Agricultural Improvement and Public Affairs Project. "Miguel Sanchez is developing ways to determine the demand for non-traditional home garden crops."

Registration begins at 8 a.m. with the formal activities beginning at 8:30 a.m., including welcoming comments from Guldan, Gomez and Steven Loring, assistant director of NMSU Agricultural Science Centers. Walking tours will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Walking tours will be conducted to view the three areas of research being conducted - grapes, berries and fruit tree orchards, vegetables, medicinal herbs and alternative crops, and acequia agriculture hydrology.

Studies involving under-tree micro-sprinklers and drip irrigation, sand filter system, frost protection and organic fruit production methods will be discussed while visitors stroll through the blackberry bushes and help themselves to the ripe berries.

An update on the ongoing research involving medicinal herbs as an alternative crop, as well as the connection between acequia agriculture, groundwater and the Rio Grande, will be presented. The benefits from hoop houses and tunnels will be discussed. Visitors will also be able to view a market demonstration garden.

Presentations will be given on bio-control of bindweed with bindweed mites, controlling insects using chickens and tractor maintenance.

A wide variety of displays will also be presented by various agricultural related organizations including Northern New Mexico Outreach project, New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, New Mexico Apple Council, New Mexico Farm Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, New Mexico State Forestry, New Mexico Bee Breeding Project, and New Mexico Energy Conservation and Management.

NMSU's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center is located in Alcalde, which is 33 miles north of Santa Fe and 38 miles south of Taos on NM 68. The staff of the Alcalde experimental station requests that visitors refrain from bringing their personal dogs onto the farm property.

For more information about the science center visit the Web site at http://alcaldesc.nmsu.edu/.