Ag center ramps up research

By Rex E. Kirksey: Ag Sense

Agriculture is the economic mainstay of eastern New Mexico.

For 60 years, the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center in Clovis has been conducting research and extension activities to help agricultural producers increase their economic and environmental sustainability.

The center’s activities are guided by an advisory committee comprised of local producers and ag industry representatives. The center’s staff, prompted by the advisory committee in 2004, began working with the area’s state legislators to enhance the center’s ability to serve agricultural producers in eastern New Mexico, the largest production area in the state.

With strong support of the Legislature and friends throughout the state, the center has received appropriation enhancements that have allowed the center to increase its number of faculty from two to six and expand its program areas. As a result of these efforts, the center now has major programmatic efforts in the areas of general agronomy, peanut breeding, crop stress physiology, dairy production, water conservation and environmental sustainability

The six-person faculty at the center comprise a core group with diverse but related areas of expertise, which allow the center to obtain external funding to further enhance its ability to address the needs of agricultural producers not only in eastern New Mexico but throughout the nation and the world.

In the past year, center faculty have been principal investigators or project contributors to more than a dozen grant projects totaling more than $2 million. Of that amount, $1.2 million has been retained by NMSU.

Recently funded projects include:

—a dairy green water reclamation project funded by a $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Water Innovation Fund;

—a water conservation in forage production by sorghum-legume intercropping project funded by a $470,000 grant from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service National Research Initiative;

—a $353,000 multi-agency project for bioenergy processing systems for dairy industry waste funded by the New Mexico Technology Research Collaborative;

—and a $75,000 Subsurface Drip Irrigation and GIS/GPS Technology demonstration project funded by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants program.

Additional funded projects include canola adaptation and production, weeds for biofuel production, sweet sorghum as a bioenergy feedstock, dairy quality assurance, development of Valencia peanuts and breeding heat stress tolerant peanuts.

As the program continues to grow and mature, there are even greater hopes and expectations for the years to come.

Rex E. Kirksey is the superintendent at New Mexico State University’s Agricultural Science Centers at Clovis and Tucumcari. He can be contacted at 985-2292, 461-1620 or
rkirksey@nmsu.edu