Context, Justification and Assumptions: Farmers in New Mexico have continued to face
intense pressure due to increasing challenges associated with economic and environmental
factors. Some of the economic challenges faced by farmers include reduced profitability of some current cultural crops due to competition and/or lack of proper skills to manage their farm finance. Environmental factors affecting sustainability in New Mexico include declining water resources, weather uncertainties and increasing seasonal temperatures. There is a need to develop strategies to sustain rural economies in New Mexico in the face of all these challenges. Another area of need among farmers in New Mexico is the appropriate use of cover crops. Cover-cropping has been shown to save water, increase crop yields, and can build resiliency into the farming systems of the arid and semi-arid regions. Growers and agricultural professionals have been asking several questions related to suitability of different species as cover crops and cultural practices that are needed to successfully include these cover crops as part of their rotation. To address some of these needs, we propose to have a single-day NM WSARE Conference focused on enhancing farmers’ sustainability. This conference will address issues such as new and high value crops for New Mexico, farm financial management, profitable crop rotations and benefits/profitability of combined animal and crop husbandry.
In addition to the NM WSARE conference, we plan to have a Farm Walk on a separate date from the conference date, to visit farms practicing cover cropping. The Farm Walk will engage
participants on the practical aspects of cover cropping. Past NM WSARE conferences have been well received among agriculture professionals, educators and farmers, and past evaluations have shown increases in knowledge gained by participants. We hope to build on the past successes of NM WSARE conferences, to deliver appropriate and timely information on strategies that can enhance sustainability of farms in New Mexico.
Farm walk will provide the much need practical demonstration of cover crops in real farm
environment, and participants will be able to ask farmers specific questions about different
aspects of cover crops. We also plan to invite at least two cover crop experts to participate in the Farm Walk, to help answer participants’ questions.
The funds being requested will help with hosting the NM WSARE conference and the proposed
Farm Walk. We intend to sponsor some agricultural professionals and some members of the
advisory committee to attend these events. Part of funding will also be used to bring appropriate resource persons to present at the proposed events.
Stakeholder and partner involvement: The proposed plan for 2018 WSARE activities was
based on the recommendation of the NM WSARE PDP Advisory Committee. In 2016, we
reconstituted our advisory committee and this committee will be serving for three years. The
Advisory Committee had a total of 4 meetings (phone conferences) between January 2016 and
February 2017 to plan the implementation of 2016/2017 activities and propose the plan for
2017/2018. Our Advisory Committee currently consists of 11 members, including Stephanie
Walker, Extension Vegetable Specialist (Co-Chair), John Idowu, Extension Agronomist (Co-
Chair); Brenda Simpson (NRCS State Rangeland Specialist); Kulbhushan Grover, Agroecologist); Newt McCarty, (Extension Educator, Northern NM); Aspen Achen (Extension
Educator, Eastern NM); Jeff Anderson, (Extension Educator, Southwestern, NM); Woods
Houghton (Extension Educator, Southeastern NM); Joanie Quinn (Farmer and Organic
Agriculture Consultant), Brian Schutte, Weed Ecologist and Israel Calsoyas (Student and
Inputs: The NM WSARE Advisory Committee will be led by the State PDP coordinators (John
Idowu & Stephanie Walker). The State coordinators will be responsible for scheduling meetings of the advisory committee whenever needed. The NM WSARE Advisory Committee will be responsible for identifying sustainable agricultural issues that are relevant to New Mexico, and for planning the yearly activities agreed upon by the committee members. Specific inputs of the advisory committee would be to identify suitable location for proposed events, selecting appropriate speakers, developing agenda for programs and planning other program logistics.
Additionally, the NM PDP coordinators will actively engage in the promotion of SARE
educational materials and WSARE grants programs, encouraging stakeholders in NM to submit
proposals. We also plan to host WSARE information booths at various commodity conferences
Our target audience include Cooperative Extension Educators, NRCS staff,
Agricultural Consultants, CCAs and producers within New Mexico. Based on the attendance
over the past years, we are expecting at least 80 participants to attend the proposed NM WSARE conference focused on enhancing farmers’ sustainability. We are expecting at least 30
participants for the Farm Walk that will be focused on cover cropping strategies. The proposed
conference will consist of several presentations cutting across farm economics to profitable crop rotations, including information about new crops that farmers can grow to enhance farm
sustainability. We also plan to have a discussion session during the conference, that will facilitate interactive engagement between participants and resource persons. The NM WSARE conference will be held in Los Lunas while the venue for the Farm Walk is not yet certain. The advisory committee is still working on the selection of an appropriate location for the Farm Walk. The Farm Walk is expected to take place in another region apart from Los Lunas axis, to provide opportunity for additional participants who may not be attending the NM WSARE Conference. The Farm Walk is expected to take place in the summer, while the conference will take place in the fall. All the presentations during the conference will be hosted on the NM WSARE website (http://aces.nmsu.edu/programs/sare/index.html) and the link to the website will be actively promoted through press releases and other appropriate media methods.
Project objectives from proposal:
Information presented during the proposed NM WSARE Conference and Farm Walk
will increase the knowledge of agricultural professionals on enhancing farmers’ sustainability
and cover cropping strategies in NM. It is expected that the agricultural professionals and
educators who attend these events would be equipped with the necessary knowledge to advise
farmers on issues relating to farm sustainability and/or using cover crops in arid/semi-arid