Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES - New Mexico farmers who want to make the transition to drip irrigation can learn more at a short course Nov. 9 in Las Cruces.
The daylong session at Dickerson's Barn will focus on the importance of having a well designed irrigation system. Drip irrigation can help farmers grow healthier crops with half the water furrow or sprinkler irrigation, said Bob Bevacqua, a vegetable specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.
"A well-designed system can be used to distribute fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals through the field in the irrigation water," he said. "This is an important automated step that is labor-saving and cost-saving for farmers."
Although fertilizing through drip irrigation systems is common in California and Florida, it's relatively new in New Mexico, Bevacqua said. "We're borrowing technology from these states and applying it to local farms here."
A Rincon farm using drip irrigation as part of a Chile Pepper Task Force project will serve as the case study for the course.
"We've had many requests from producers for more in-depth information about drip irrigation," said Rich Phillips, with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and the task force's first coordinator. "We encourage them to attend and take advantage of the short course. It is important that New Mexico growers participate in this workshop to learn more about drip irrigation and share their experiences with it," he said.
In addition to the water savings, growers can also reduce the number of tractor passes in their field, reduce fuel costs, improve fertilizer and pesticide application efficiency, and increase yields using drip irrigation, Phillips said.
Howard Wuertz, a pioneer in drip irrigation in Arizona, will be the conference keynote speaker. He will cover how drip systems and chemical injection can be used as tools for improving crop production. Tim Hertz, vegetable crops specialist at the University of California-Davis, will speak on fertilizing chile peppers, onions and other crops through the drip system. Larry Schwankl, an irrigation specialist at the University of California, will explain how drip systems are maintained.
Pre-registration before Oct. 27 is $25. Registration at the door will cost $35. For more information about the drip irrigation course, call Bevacqua at (505) 646-7999 or Phillips at (505) 646-2353.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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