Agricultural production is a significant driver of New Mexico economy, worth $2.86 billion in 2016 (USDA-NASS, 2017). Contributing to this total are approx. 2,600 farms that produce a variety of crops. Despite the diversity, all producers share the need for initiatives in integrated pest and disease management to combat local challenges. Producers have also expressed interest for information on implement and equipment options for sustainable crop production.
Our goal is to conduct educational programs for New Mexico agriculture support professionals and farmers on integrated pest management and provide information on implement and equipment options to improve delivery of field inputs and aid in field management.
- A field day will be conducted for overview of sustainable agriculture field research at one of the NMSU Agricultural Science Centers
- A conference will be hosted that will focus on integrated pest management and farm implements for sustainable agricultural field practices
Agricultural production is a significant driver of the New Mexico economy, worth $2.86 billion in 2016 (USDA-NASS, 2017). Contributing to this total are approx. 2,600 farms that produce a variety of crops including chile peppers, onions, pecans, pistachios, cotton, and alfalfa. Despite the diversity, all producers share the need for initiatives in integrated pest and disease management to combat local challenges. In addition, producers have expressed interest in obtaining information on implement and equipment options to improve delivery of field inputs and aid in field management. To provide training in these areas, the NM WSARE Advisory Committee proposes to have a single-day NM WSARE Conference focused on innovative implement use and integrated pest management for sustainable crop production in New Mexico. The program for the conference will be well balanced, to include information for large- and small-scale crop production. The NM Sustainable Agriculture Conference sponsored by WSARE has been an annual event in New Mexico for many years. Agricultural professionals and stakeholders have been highly supportive of these events and have provided positive feedback about the knowledge gained from their attendance.
In addition to the NM WSARE conference, we plan to hold a Farm Walk that will focus on sustainable agricultural practices. A farm will be selected for the Farm Walk, with the host farmer providing information on their practices, challenges being faced in their production, and how they are addressing those challenges. The Farm Walk adds a practical dimension to the training of agricultural professionals and stakeholders by providing opportunities to see how real-life issues are addressed by an expert farmer. We choose Farm Walk hosts that have outstanding and reputable management practices, to be able to provide participants with leading-edge information on sustainable production practices.
Finally, many agricultural professionals and other stakeholders are not fully aware of the valuable research being conducted in support of sustainable agriculture at the New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Experiment Stations. The NM WSARE Advisory Committee proposes to sponsor a Sustainable Agriculture Field Day at the Fabian Garcia Horticultural Science Center that will highlight the WSARE program and provide researchers the opportunity to present updates on ongoing projects supporting sustainable agriculture in New Mexico.
Funds being requested will help with hosting the NM WSARE conference, Farm Walk, and Field Day. We intend to sponsor some agricultural professionals and some members of the advisory committee to attend these events. Part of the funding will also be used to bring appropriate resource persons to present at these events.
Professional development approaches included conducting a Field Day, a Grant Writing Workshop, and the New Mexico Sustainable Agriculture Conference.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To educate agricultural professionals, farmers, and the public about recent projects and findings pertaining to sustainable agriculture at New Mexico State University.
This field day took place on June 26th, 2019, at the Fabian Garcia Agricultural Science Center nearby the main New Mexico State University campus in Las Cruces, NM. The total number of attendees was 52 individuals. The participants were welcomed and guided on a walking tour around the Center, where researchers presented their projects and answered questions. Topics presented included updates on onion breeding, cover crop impacts on vineyards, drought resistant alternative crops (such as guar), biofumigation for weed management, sustainable bioeconomies for arid regions, new chile pepper cultivars, and soil-borne diseases of chile.
A survey was filled out by the attendees both before and after the event. This survey was designed to gauge the relative increase in understanding and knowledge of the various subjects presented. There was a marked increase in understanding across all subjects by the attendees who completed the survey (Figure 1).
This conference aimed to provide insights into sustainable pest and disease management as well as improvements to farm infrastructure and use of implements.
The 2019 New Mexico Sustainable Agriculture Conference was held on December 10, 2019 at the University of New Mexico Valencia Campus in Los Lunas, NM. The titled theme of the conference was “Pest & Disease Management and Farm Infrastructure.” Topics presented were as follows: Sustainable ranch management, soil solarization, benefits of winter cover crops, chemical-free weed management, mechanical tillage for weed control, reduced-cost irrigation, incorporating integrated pest management, and biorational methods for disease control. The number of participants totaled 64 individuals.
A pre- and post-evaluation survey was conducted on the attendees. This was used to gauge the relative increase in knowledge and understanding of the topics presented. Overall, there was an increase in understanding and knowledge across the participants. The average increase in knowledge was 30% for all of the topics presented at the conference.
This event was designed to help business owners, farmers, ranchers, non-profits, agricultural professionals, and other interested members of the public to understand the processes involved in writing a grant proposal to SARE.
The workshop was held on December 11th, 2019, at the Bernalillo County Extension office in Albuquerque, NM. This event was held one day after the NM Sustainable Agriculture Conference. The presenters were Jim Freeburn, WSARE Professional Development Coordinator, and Larry Cundall, owner of Cundall Ranch. The various grant funding opportunities and categories were presented, along with how to get started on the submission process online. The two presented their individual views on research projects that would be promising, and how to tailor a project to fit the needs of SARE.
A total of 22 participants attended the workshop. Attendees were asked to write any comments about the event, and many returned with positive reviews and requests for more information on how to get involved with SARE.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
We hosted informational booths at multiple conferences and meetings aside from the WSARE-sponsored events this past year. These included the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, NM Chile Grower’s conference, and an open house for the College of ACES at NMSU. We showcased SARE publications and informational pamphlets, distributing about 150 – 200 copies of them. Visitors were highly interested in grant opportunities, and we have grown our email list serve to 342 members.