Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOVIS - Dairy experts from New Mexico State University are helping to develop a consortium of universities and federal institutions that will focus on bringing the best research-based knowledge to the dairy industry in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas.
NMSU is taking a lead role in the Southern Great Plains Dairy Consortium, together with major players like Texas A&M University and Extension Service, Texas Tech University, West Texas A&M University, and others.
"The unique strength of the consortium lays in the fact that it will build on its mutual intellectual and academic properties and share those properties in the common interest of the dairy industry as well as the people of New Mexico and the West Texas Panhandle," said NMSU Extension dairy specialist G. Robert Hagevoort. Hagevoort is based at NMSU's Agricultural Science Center at Clovis, although he has statewide responsibilities.
Eastern New Mexico and West Texas have seen a tremendous growth in the dairy industry in the last several years. New Mexico now ranks number seven in milk production and will soon take over the number six spot behind classic dairy states like Wisconsin, California and Pennsylvania.
"Dairymen from all over the nation choose the favorable climate of the Southwest to milk their dairy cows," Hagevoort said. "In addition, the existing agricultural environment favors the integration of crop and livestock farming, where crop farmers take advantage of the fertilizer the dairies produce to improve the natural health of the soils, while producing valuable forage crops for their neighboring dairies."
This integration favors environmentally sound management practices, efficient use of limited natural resources such as water, and creates unique opportunities to utilize biomass to produce alternative fuel sources such as ethanol and natural gas, Hagevoort said. However, the climate and production environment in New Mexico create a unique set of constraints and conditions, which the universities in this area have recognized.
The consortium will coordinate research, Extension and diagnostic service programs; and develop new technologies and outreach programs to improve production efficiency, herd health, milk quality, forage production, water use efficiency, environmental quality, biomass utilization for energy, and nutrients recovery.
The consortium will enhance the dairy industry's competitiveness and its economic impact on the Southern Great Plains economy as well as its ability to produce a safe, wholesome and competitively priced supply of milk and related products, Hagevoort said. The consortium will generate research knowledge and technology necessary to solve production and related industry environmental and natural resource issues through fundamental and applied research; disseminate knowledge and technologies through undergraduate, graduate, and tailored training programs; and expand Extension education to producers, allied industry and agency personnel.
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