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NMSU Alcalde field day event marks 20 years of acequia research

  • By Adriana M. Chávez
  • 575-646-1957
  • adchavez@nmsu.edu
  • Jul 30, 2021
Water flowing through an irrigation ditch

Twenty years of acequia research, along with research on farmer and soil health, fruit, bees and weeds are among the topics that will be highlighted at this year’s field day at New Mexico State University’s Sustainable Agriculture Science Center in Alcalde, New Mexico.

The field day will begin with registration at 7:30 a.m. Aug. 10 at the science center, located at 371 County Road 40. Graduate student Lily Conrad will speak about current acequia research in the Rio Hondo Valley, and NMSU Professor Sam Fernald will discuss key findings from acequia studies in northern New Mexico.

“Attendees will learn about recent and current research and are invited to share ideas with Alcalde research and Extension staff for future projects,” said Steven Guldan, superintendent of the Sustainable Agriculture Science Center.

Acequias are community-based flood irrigation systems, owned and managed by self-organized farmers, that deliver water to sustain agriculture during scarce or uneven yearly rainfall. The New Mexico Acequia Association estimates 640 small-scale systems exist throughout New Mexico.

Since 2010, researchers from NMSU, University of New Mexico, and Sandia National Laboratories have studied hydrology and cultural aspects of the El Rito, Rio Hondo and Alcalde acequia systems. That research culminated in “Acequias of the Southwestern United States: Elements of Resilience in a Coupled Natural and Human System,” an eight-chapter, 90-page publication that reports on the various research findings. The publication can be found at https://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/research/water/RR796/welcome.

Two separate walking tracks will begin at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Track 1 will cover fruit, bees and weeds, including organic fruit production and table grapes in northern New Mexico. Track 2 will focus on farmer and soil health, alfalfa varieties and bio-control of the alfalfa weevil, and high tunnel vegetable research.

Following lunch at noon, afternoon special topics will include discussion of a hemp study by NMSU professors Rebecca Creamer and Catie Brewer, and fall vegetables by John Garlisch.

People with a disability who are in need of auxiliary aid or service to participate are asked to contact Guldan by Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 505-852-4241.

Alcalde center staff requests no dogs be brought to the field day unless they are service animals.