Getting Your Hands Dirty Virtually: New Mexico Soil Workshop
Monday, September 21, 2020
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Determining soil quality usually requires getting your hands dirty, but the pandemic will require that a New Mexico soil workshop be held virtually this week.
As climate change accelerates, it's impacting farm yields, and experts are eager to help farmers adopt new practices. New Mexico State University professor John Idowu will lead a two-day soil health webinar starting Tuesday. He says the state's increasing drought conditions make enhanced soil resilience an important tool to withstand climate change.
Idowu was born in Nigeria and received his education in Europe before moving to Las Cruces.
"Soil management is really very critical here, and by building soil health we will encourage the capacity of the soil to hold more water," Idowu said.
He said in addition to soil health management, other topics will include cover cropping, crop rotation, tillage management and livestock integration into cropping systems.
In August, New Mexico was part of a 2,000-mile swatch of the United States gripped by drought, high temperatures and the threat of climate-related forest fires.
New Mexico, home to mountains, high plains and desert, is not known as an agricultural state, but Idowu said farming has been continual there for more than 2,500 years - ever since Native Americans first grew corn, squash and beans throughout the region.
"New Mexico is very diverse in agriculture and production. We grow alfalfa, we grow sorghum, we grow a lot of cotton, chilis and a lot of diverse types of vegetables - onions and all the rest," he said.
The 2017 Ag Census showed Native Americans accounted for 24% of New Mexico's farm and ranch owners.
The workshop is sponsored by the Healthy Soil Program initiative coordinated by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.
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