New Mexico Report
Summary of 2014 New Mexico PDP Activities and Results:
In 2014, New Mexico’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference was held in the eastern Cooperative Extension district. The yearly conference that targets agricultural professionals and is also open to other interested individuals was held in Roswell, NM on December 17, 2014. The main focus of the conference was range management in drought conditions, a critical concern for sustainable production cited by Extension agents and other agricultural professionals.
Program personnel presented a Western SARE informational booth and participated in the NM Organic Conference and the NM Vine and Wine Conference. Both events were held in Albuquerque, NM in February and March 2014, respectively.
Dr. John Idowu, Extension Agronomist, was nominated and accepted as the new co-PDP Coordinator for New Mexico.
Context and Overview:
The SARE PDP program in New Mexico is coordinated through the Department of Extension Plant Sciences in the college of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University. The main campus is located in Las Cruces at the southern central part of the state, although agricultural research stations are strategically located throughout. Agricultural enterprises are integral to New Mexico’s economy, as well as representing an important part of the history and heritage of the state. It’s essential for both small farms and large commercial agricultural producers to implement practices that are environmentally friendly and conducive to long-term productivity of farm and range land. The SARE professional development program for the state strives to train county Extension agents, specialists, and other agriculture professionals in topics related to sustainable production. We engage other key organizations in the state in these efforts including, but not limited to, the National Resources Conservation Service and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture through their participation in the NM-Western SARE Advisory Committee and by inviting representative speakers from these groups and encouraging their attendance at our programs.
Activities, Methods, PDP-funded Educational Materials and Products:
The eleventh annual Western SARE-sponsored conference was conducted in Roswell, New Mexico on December 17, 2014. The annual NM Sustainable Agriculture Conference was designed to bring together Extension agents, specialists, and other agricultural professionals involved in training efforts and present information in subjects of special importance for sustainable agriculture in eastern New Mexico. This year’s conference focused on range management and production under drought conditions in the southwest. Additional topics on alfalfa and chile, two critical crops in New Mexico, were also presented. In addition to input and assistance from the NM-Western SARE Advisory Committee, agents representing counties in the eastern district were invited to participate in planning the conference. The conference planning committee consisted of Jeff Anderson, Sandra Barraza, Jack Blandford, Michael Diaz, Rudy Garcia, Kulbhushan Grover, Woods Houghton, Patrick Kircher, Bernd Maier, Newt McCarty, and Stephanie Walker.
The conference moderators were Sandra Barraza and Patrick Kircher, both County Extension Agents in eastern New Mexico. Opening remarks were provided by Bruce Hinrichs, the NMSU, Eastern District Director for Cooperative Extension, and Larry Hobson, a long-time agricultural producer and community leader in Roswell. Topics and presenters included:
‘We’re Not Spying on You; It’s More Interesting Watching Grass Grow – Using Unmanned Aircraft Systems in Rangeland Monitoring,’ presented by Connie Maxwell, USDA-ARS-Jornada Experimental Range
‘Alfalfa Production: Back to Basics’ by Mark Marsalis, NMSU, Superintendent, Ag. Science Center, Los Lunas
‘Targeted Grazing with Small Ruminants to Suppress Rangeland Weeds’ by Andrés Cibils, NMSU, Department of Animal and Range Sciences
‘Alternative Crops for Challenging Climates’ by Sangu Angadi, NMSU, Ag. Science Center, Clovis
‘Remembering Soil Conservation Practices under Limited Water Conditions’ by Robert Flynn, NMSU, Ag. Science Center, Artesia
‘Drought Management Strategies for Western Great Plains Rangelands: Flexibility for Complex Decision Making’ by David Augustine (who presented collaborative research conducted with Justin Derner), USDA Agricultural Research Service, Colorado
‘Making Grazing Land Management Decisions - Uncertainty is the Only Thing You Can Count On’ by Joel Brown, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
‘Sustaining Chile Through Brand Recognition- New Mexico Certified Chile™’, by Jeanine Chavez Eden, NM Chile Certification Program
Unfortunately, we were not able to provide this year’s conference live via internet. However, Sonja Jo Serna, NMSU University Communications Specialist, trialed PANOPTO, a new lecture recording technology as part of this year’s conference. PANOPTO is designed to record, archive, and show the presenter in action, as well as providing their powerpoint presentation. The conference PANOPTO recordings have been archived and can be accessed at the NM Western SARE website. (Unfortunately, technical difficulties while testing this new technology prevented full access to at least one of the segments.)
In addition to conducting the conference in Roswell, PDP funding was also used to sponsor Western SARE informational booths at the New Mexico Organic Conference and the NM Vine and Wine Conferences in Albuquerque. The NM Western SARE PDP coordinator also answered questions and provided guidance on the various Western SARE programs to Extension personnel and other clientele around the state.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills, and Action:
Approximately 55 individuals participated in the 11th annual NM Sustainable Agriculture conference with representation by Agricultural Extension Agents from counties throughout NM, the National Resources Conservancy Service, the NMDA, and the Bureau of Land Management.
Evaluation forms were distributed to conference participants. The results, by topic, follow:
98% of survey respondents indicated that they had learned new information on the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in agriculture, with 67% indicating that they had learned a great deal.
94% of respondents increased their knowledge of alternative crop options in challenging climates, with 46% of the individuals learning a great deal.
100% of participants reported an increase in knowledge in management of rangelands and grazing during drought conditions.
Comments from conference attendees included:
“Overall great day spent learning about recent and important Ag topics.”
“Thank you for a wonderful conference! Interesting, useful talks, and good food!”
“I greatly appreciate all of the work it took for this! As a college student I thank you for leaving a registration fee out!”
Due to scheduling conflicts with the Convention and Civic Center in Roswell, this year’s NM Sustainable Agriculture Conference was held later in December than past conferences, so it took place after New Mexico State University’s classes had been completed for the semester. As a result, several students studying agriculture (future agricultural professionals) made the trip to Roswell to attend the event. Upon consultation with other planning committee members, it was apparent that this was ideal timing for the conference. Future events will be scheduled the week after classes are dismissed so that interested students, as well as teaching faculty, can attend without scheduling difficulty.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
The NM Western SARE PDP program relies on an Advisory Committee that provides guidance in planning topics and speakers for the yearly Sustainable Agriculture Conference. Local committee members met in person, while members located in other parts of NM participated in planning meetings via. conference call. The committee that collaborated in the planning of the 2014 conference included: Jeff Anderson, Dona Ana County Agent; Sandra Barraza, Chaves County Agent and host of the conference; Jack Blandford, Luna County Agent; Michael Diaz, New Mexico Dept. of Agriculture Organic Program; Rudy Garcia, NRCS NM State Agronomist; Kulbhushan Grover, NMSU Assistant Professor in Sustainable Crop Production; Woods Houghton, Eddy County Agent; Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County Agent; Bernd Maier, NMSU Viticulture Specialist; Newt McCarty, Valencia County Agent; and Stephanie Walker, NMSU Vegetable Specialist.