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Los Lunas Science Center Field Day Scheduled for Aug. 20

LOS LUNAS - Water conservation techniques for everything from parched pastures to an experimental vineyard will be featured Aug. 20 at a free, public field day at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas. The 202-acre research facility is located 25 miles south of Albuquerque just off Highway 314.



Mike English, superintendent of New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Los Lunas, examines grapes in a variety trial that will be shown Aug. 20 at a free, public field day. Water conservation techniques, bosque restoration, new grass varieties and a tour of a native plant production nursery are among the program highlights. (08/04/2003) (Courtesy Photo from NMSU)

"Water is a big time problem in the middle Rio Grande valley," said Mike English, center superintendent. "That's one reason why we've focused on a variety of conservation methods this year."

One of the cutting-edge applications on view is a solar-powered well that supplies water to an experimental vineyard through a subsurface drip irrigation system. In drip irrigation, water is applied directly to the plant's roots through a series of black plastic lines or drip tape buried more than a foot deep.

The science center's half-acre grape variety trial, which began in 1998 as a joint project with the New Mexico Wine and Vine Society, includes 12 varieties - including French hybrid grapes from New York, Missouri and Canada that are new to New Mexico. Researchers are testing the grapes for winter hardiness, yields, quality, disease and insect problems.

Researchers from across the state will discuss alfalfa varieties and alternative forages such as Max Q fescue, which is being studied for use in pasture establishment and renovation. Field tours will highlight research on forage corn and sorghums, control of a perennial invasive weed known as pepperweed and a review of brush control methods in the Mountainair area.

NMSU's water theme continues with a talk on statewide water conservation efforts, bosque restoration, new grass varieties and laser leveling for crop production and water management.

The field day will feature a tour of the native plant production nursery at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's New Mexico Plant Materials Center, located at the science center. NRCS researchers grow native plants for conservation projects. Program scientists work with a broad range of species, including grasses, trees and shrubs.

Other indoor and outdoor demonstrations will cover quick preparation of meals using beef and easy ways to make refrigerated pickles. Master gardeners, led by Emroy Shannon, a longtime plant pathologist with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service, will staff an information booth and plant clinic to answer gardeners' questions about diseases and insects.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. Tours and demonstrations are from 9 a.m. to noon,
followed by a complimentary lunch and speakers from NMSU's College of Agriculture and Home Economics.

For more information, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, please call English at (505) 865-7340.