Comparing Irrigation Methods for Organic Wheat Production
This project seeks to compare the traditional ditch irrigation method with center pivot sprinkler irrigation to assess whether sprinkler irrigation is suitable and cost effective for the soils, altitude and farming operations of the region. From the results, area growers will be informed and encouraged to return their fallow farmlands to production.
Producers in the rural villages of Taos County, N.M., organized the Sangre de Cristo Growers Cooperative to revitalize sustainable agricultural traditions that had historically been the area’s economic mainstay. Since the mid 1990s, the producers have worked to develop a spring wheat variety that grows well at the high altitude of the area, and they have identified niche markets for their organically produce wheat.
The challenge now is to develop stable and efficient production methods that are cost effective and can sustain the economic viability of farm operations.
This project has been delayed because of difficulties encountered leasing a center pivot sprinkler irrigation system. Lonnie Roybal, project coordinator, reported that an arrangement had been made, but the owner of the pivot planted barley instead of wheat. Given that this project is wheat only and that it was too late in the season to locate another pivot, the project members were forced to rely on flood irrigation.
“We fully intend to complete this project, which entails comparing the efficiency of flood irrigation with sprinkler irrigation,” says Roybal.
It is anticipated that the comparison will be completed during the 2002 growing season and that a report on the results will be submitted at the end of 2002.