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New Mexico State University

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Artesia Field Day Focuses on Drought Issues

ARTESIA - Farmers squeezed by relentless drought can see innovative irrigation and farming techniques, along with new lines of water efficient crops during a July 22 field day at New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Artesia.



Researchers review experimental grain plots in preparation for a July 22 field day at New Mexico State's University Agricultural Science Center at Artesia. (07/08/2004) (NMSU Agricultural Communications Photo by Norman Martin)

"The drought has forced us to look at more efficient systems," said NMSU agronomist Robert Flynn, the center's acting superintendent. "Among the areas we'll be featuring are soil moisture monitoring devices and weed control in combination with subsurface drip irrigation."

Registration begins at 4 p.m. at the science center, which is located at 67 E. Four Dinkus Road, six miles south of Artesia. Following a catered barbecue provided by the Yucca CowBelles Chapter dinner under a grove of Paulownia trees, the scientific portion of the free program begins at 5:30 p.m. with introductions and a short research advisory board business meeting, followed by field tours.

The program kicks off with a welcome address from Michael Martin, NMSU's new president. Jinfa Zhang, the leader of NMSU's cotton breeding program, will review his work to combine traditional breeding techniques with cutting-edge biotechnology and molecular genetic research.

Artesia-based entomologist Jane Pierce will provide updates on cotton pest management, while Extension vegetable specialist Stephanie Walker will discuss development of red chile and paprika breeding lines in southeastern New Mexico.

Ryan Herbon, an agricultural engineer with NMSU's Manufacturing Technology and Engineering Center, will demonstrate an upgraded version of a chile thinning machine. NMSU's improved prototype features a new hydraulic power supply and new electronic sensors for detecting the plants in the field.

Extension turfgrass specialist Bernhard Leinauer will review statewide research trials of 32 different grasses in side-by-side tests for hardiness, cold tolerance and water use. The 5-by-5 foot plots look like a giant checkerboard when viewed from above. They are located at agricultural science centers in Artesia, Los Lunas and Tucumcari; a golf course in Albuquerque; and NMSU's Fabian Garcia Research Center in Las Cruces.

Flynn will talk about an experimental grove of ultra fast growing Paulownia trees, an aggressive ornamental species native to Asia. NMSU researchers are examining the tree's potential as a barrier to wind erosion and nitrogen removal from soil. Paulownia trees can reproduce from seed or root sprouts. They have been known to grow more than 15 feet in a single season.

Flynn will also highlight crops that remove nitrogen to meet New Mexico Environment Department regulations that affect dairies.

Jaime Castillo, a student intern with Sandia National Labs, will demonstrate several soil moisture sensors in permanent and annual crops. Michael Sporcic, an agronomist with the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service, will also discuss the advantages of vegetative wind barriers to assist early crop establishment.

Founded in 1955, the Artesia center has approximately 75 acres under cultivation, using sprinkler, drip and gated pipe irrigation systems. Ongoing research includes fertility studies and manure use in crop production, integrated insect pest management, weed management and evaluation of crop varieties and alternative crops.

For more information about the field day, or if you are an individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Flynn at (505) 748-1228 or e-mail rflynn@nmsu.edu.