Southern Regional Water Program

Research, Extension & Education Water Quality Programs through the Land Grant University System

Nutrient & Pesticide Management In New Mexico

Nutrient management seeks to balance fertilizer applications from synthetic or organic soiltest.gifsources to meet crop needs, improve water quality, and enhance farm profitability. Soil testing is key to this program. Ideally, manure and compost applications should be made based on what is in the material, what crop is to be grown, and the nutrient needs of that crop. Applications of manures, lagoon water, and composts that are made without accounting for soil and crop factors are usually doomed to failure and increased risks of ground water contamination. Today's challenge is to develop the most appropriate lagoon and solids handling system for a given production-nutrient management strategy while providing protection of ground and surface waters.

Conditions in New Mexico

During the 1980s and 1990s, an expansion of the dairy industry occurred in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and other south central United States. There were approximately 236,000 dairy cows in New Mexico in 2000. More than 85% of the dairies are located in Dona Ana, Eddy, Chaves, Curry, Lea, and Roosevelt counties. The same statistics show that New Mexico ranked 11th in the nation in total milk cows and 10th in total milk production with 406 million pounds. In order to prevent serious bacterial contamination, thousands of gallons of water are used every day to wash the cows before milking 2 or 3 times daily and to clean the equipment used for the milking operation. This water is collected in lagoons of varying size and efficacy in handling the waste stream.

Permits issued to animal feeding operations in New Mexico require some form of lagoon.giftracking and accounting for the nutrients applied to cropland. Nutrient management is a best management practice that is the first line of defense against pollution and is suitable for all persons utilizing the land for economic plant production or home gardening. Managing nutrients for sufficient plant growth, animal nutrition and environmental compatibility will assure a safe and reliable source of food and fiber in New Mexico. Additionally, proper nutrient management practices will maintain economic viability of New Mexico's crop land and livestock producers.

Resources and Programs

New Mexico State University (NMSU) provides research, education and extension resources to assist state and federal agencies, business and industry, communities and individual citizens in addressing water quality concerns. These programs are designed to provide information for specific audiences, such as farmers, homeowners and youth.

Extension Outreach

NMSU is home to New Mexico Cooperative Extension Service, which develops and delivers programs designed to provide educational outreach into all counties of the state. Outreach education enables the research developed at colleges and universities and from other sources throughout the world to be interpreted and delivered to the end user, which is often a home or business owner or agricultural producer.

New Mexico was one of the first western states to implement Farm*A*Syst: Farmstead Assessment System. The program is modeled after the national Farm*A*Syst materials and adapted to New Mexico conditions. An interactive web version of the “Pesticide Use and Integrated Pest Management” assessment is available for use by New Mexico’s high value agronomic crop production industry. Pesticide licensing is an on-going NMSU Extension program.

Also, Extension Service, in cooperation with New Mexico Natural Resource Conservation Service offices and the New Mexico Environment Department, has trained and is developing certification procedures for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning (CNMP) as part of the National Animal Waste Management programs. A pilot CNMP certification program was held in September 2000. This program will be updated with information learned from the Livestock and Poultry Environmental Stewardship Program.

New Mexico’s Certification program is under review by the New Mexico Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

Additional Resources and Programs

New Mexico’s soil test interpretation, land application calculator, and phosphorus index tool are available. The soil test interpretation workbook takes soil, crop, and organic source characteristics into account in a fairly rapid manner for determining nutrient needs and application rates for liquids and solids.

The New Mexico Certified Crop Advisor program is also a certification program designed to increase the expertise level of consultants working for farmers and dairymen using organic waste products. The Certified Crop Advisor Program is available at the American Society of Agronomy website. Certified Crop Advisor programs will be implemented in 2002.

Scientific Research

Comparative analyses between synthetic, manure, and compost sources of nutrients are an ongoing objective of this program. Since organic sources release nutrients slowly over time it usually takes several years or excessively high rates of manure or compost application to cause problems with surface water, ground water, or crop production and soil salinity.

Research projects have been established for silage systems, alfalfa, cotton, and pasturegrass to identify best management practices for the beneficial reuse of manure and composts. Another study sought to enhance the iron content of composted dairy manure to correct chronic iron deficiency symptoms in Lea county corn silage fields. Nutrient management also seeks to identify how variable producer fields are in important soil parameters that limit crop production. Grid sampling of cotton and chile fields from 1998 - 2001 has provided a detailed look at factors that contribute to water quality issues and crop production.

Saline and Sodic Soils Management; Dr. Robert Flynn, Assistant Professor, Artesia Agricultural Science Center and Dr. April Ulery, Assistant Professor, Horticulture Department; College of Agriculture and Home Economics.

College and University Education

Youth and continuing adult education are critical to develop new talent and human resources to address the water quality issues of the future. Educational curricula in nutrient and pesticide management are available within several departments at New Mexico State University. Courses in key departments include:

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