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Tucumcari Field Day Showcases Forage Research

LAS CRUCES - Farmers can learn about annual forage crops that could save water while feeding the dairy industry during an evening field day Aug. 2 at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari.


Other highlights will include presentations on irrigated pastures, alfalfa insects, turfgrass selection and the value of local research centers.

Guest speakers for the event include Jay Gogue, NMSU president; Jerry Schickedanz, dean of NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics; and Leo Thrasher, science center advisory committee member. The free, public event begins at 5 p.m. with a barbecue dinner, followed by opening speeches and a research tour with five stops.

Leonard Lauriault, the center's forage agronomist, will talk about research on annual grasses and legumes. Lauriault is testing a number of crops, including forage sorghums and sudangrass.

"We know in eastern New Mexico that with Ogallala Aquifer, our water is likely to be more limited at some point in time," said Rex Kirksey, center superintendent. "We want to find forages that require less water but provide an abundant quantity and quality to sustain the dairy industry."

The tours will also provide the latest information about irrigated pasture and rotational grazing research that has been a mainstay of research at the center since the 1970s.

Irrigated pastures are an attractive option for many producers who have a combination of rangeland and irrigated crops, Kirksey said. They can use irrigated pastures to combine the two operations and diversify their risks.

The center's newest research is on turfgrass varieties. Bernd Leinauer, Extension turfgrass specialist, will show research plots planted in June and talk about selecting grass species for eastern New Mexico.

Mike English, entomologist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service and superintendent of the Los Lunas science center, will discuss alfalfa insects, including the cowpea aphid that damaged crops this season.

"We're here to help producers address production issues they're facing," Kirksey said.

The center relies on a 15-person advisory board to provide input and suggest new directions for research. Leo Thrasher of the center's advisory board will talk about how having regional research centers like Tucumcari helps the state's agricultural industry.

Tucumcari research on cotton production, which has expanded to 4,500 acres, was initiated at growers' request. NMSU scientists have done long-term research on producers' options following the Conservation Reserve Program, a federal program to remove erosion-prone land from production. The center is home to the annual Tucumcari Bull Test and Performance- tested Sale that began 40 years ago.

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 run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the West. In 1949, operation of the Tucumcari center was transferred to NMSU.

Field day activities conclude at 8:30 p.m. with refreshments. For more information about the field day, contact Kirksey at (505) 461-1620.

If you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate in these events, please contact Kirksey two weeks in advance.