New Mexico Report
SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for New Mexico
January 1-December 31, 2012
State Extension Leader for SARE:
Summary of 2012 PDP Activities and Results
In 2012, New Mexico’s sustainable agriculture professional development conference was held in the northern Extension district. The conference was held in Santa Fe and focused on water, the number one issue cited by agricultural professionals in the southwest as the key to agricultural sustainability. This year’s conference was distinct because it was held in conjunction with the Western SARE PDP state coordinators summer business meeting and agricultural tours. In addition to Western SARE PDP personnel, Extension Agents, NRCS, NMDA and other agricultural professionals participated in this event. Evaluations of the conference indicated that 95% of participants rated the program as good or excellent.
Program personnel also presented a Western SARE informational booth and participated in the NM Organic Conference, the White Sands Missile Range Earth Day Celebration and the Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers of America Conference.
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 endeavors 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 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, by inviting representative speakers from these groups and encouraging their attendance at our programs.
Activities, Methods, PDP-funded Educational Materials and Products
The ninth annual Western SARE conference/workshop was conducted in Santa Fe, New Mexico on August 7, 2012. The ‘Water: The Foundation of Agricultural Sustainability 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 northern New Mexico. This year’s conference focused on the efficient use of water in agricultural operations. In addition to input and assistance from the NM-Western SARE Advisory Committee, water and irrigation experts were also consulted in the development of the conference agenda. The moderators, who also served on the planning committee, were Patrick Torres and Steve Lucero, both County Extension Agents in northern New Mexico. Opening remarks were provided by Jeff Bader, the Northern District Director for Cooperative Extension, and Robert A. Anaya, a Santa Fe County Commissioner.
Topics and presenters included: ‘Finding a Balance Between Agricultural and Urban Water Uses’ by Brian Hurd, Agriculture Economics professor at NMSU; ‘The History and Role of Acequias in NM’ by Quita Ortiz, representative of the NM Acequia Association; ‘Why and How to Catch Rainwater’ by Billy Kniffen, Texas AgriLife Extension Service; ‘Evaluating Alternative Low-Water-Use Crops’ by Carol Bishop and Staci Emm, both from the Univ. of Nevada Cooperative Extension Service; ‘Efficient Irrigation for Orchards’ by Richard Heerema, Extension Pecan Specialist, NMSU; ‘Gravity Drip in the Navajo Nation’ by Ed Martin, Univ. of Arizona Cooperative Extension; ‘Performance of Drip Irrigation Emitters at Sub-Standard Pressure’ by Dan Smeal, Irrigation Specialist at the NMSU Ag. Science Center in Farmington; ‘Innovative Low Cost Low Head Hydro Electric Turbines for Irrigation Canals’ by Zach Libbin, engineer with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District; and ‘An Overview of the Practical Application of Renewable Energy Technologies to the Pumping of Ground Water for Agricultural Purposes in NM’, prepared by Thomas Jenkins and presented by Craig Ricketts, both professors in the NMSU Dept. of Engineering Technology and Survey Engineering. The conference presentations were made available to each of the county Extension offices in New Mexico and other participants via the internet through CENTRA. The powerpoint training presentations developed for this workshop by the presenters have been archived and can be accessed at the NM Western SARE web site.
In addition to conducting the Santa Fe conference, PDP funding was also used to sponsor informational booths at the New Mexico Organic Conference, the White Sands Missile Range Earth Day Celebration and the Hispanic Farmers and Ranchers Conference. Informational brochures and SARE project reports were provided to interested participants. Program personnel were on hand to answer questions related to the Western SARE program.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
Evaluation forms were distributed to conference participants. Results of the evaluation showed that 95% of participants rated the program as good or excellent. An overall 92% of participants indicated an above average increase in knowledge (rating of 4 or 5), and 69% (rating of 4 or 5) expected to use information obtained from conference presentations in their specialty field or work.
The ‘Water: The Foundation of Agricultural Sustainability Conference’ was a great success with many offshoots. Western SARE PDP participants from other states and island protectorates expressed interest in bringing some of the topics and/or speakers to their area for additional training. At least two counties in New Mexico (Santa Fe and Dona Ana) provided additional training workshops in rainwater harvesting by Billy Kniffen, directly as a consequence of his conference collaboration.
Because of the outpouring of support for this training conference, several members of the planning committee collaborated on a multi-state, follow-up proposal for a conference and team in water-use efficiency that was submitted to the Western SARE PDP call for proposals for funding consideration.
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 for the yearly Sustainable Ag Conference. Current members of the committee include: Patrick Torres, Santa Fe County Agent; W. Dee Wear, Sierra County Agent; Jim Wanstall, New Mexico Dept. of Ag, Noxious Weed Specialist; Tom Dominguez, Quay County Agent; Rudy Garcia, NRCS Agronomist, and Don Bustos, Santa Cruz Farm. Additional member of the conference planning committee included Rick Gibson, Jim Freeburn, Kelly Greenwald, Al Kurki, Del Jimenez, Steve Lucero, Bernd Maier, and Blair Stringam.