Writer: Joe Bryant, (806) 746-6101, firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: Dr. Bill Lyle, (806) 746-6101, email@example.com
LAMESA–New ideas, new technology, new products and new regulations mean crop producers must quickly assess how well these changes could be implemented on their farms, and if they will, in fact, benefit their operation.
But few farmers have the resources to put new concepts to a thorough, extensive, sometimes expensive, test.
Helping fill the gap in the farmers’ need to know is the Agricultural Complex for Advanced Research and Extension Systems (AGCARES), a 160-acre farm here that is a joint venture of South Plains producers, the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station.
Operating for seven growing seasons, AGCARES is helping farmers understand and assess such questions as: What crop rotations are environmentally and economically sound? What are the best irrigation schedules for my soil and crop? Is drip irrigation feasible for row crops in sandy soil? How will a new herbicide affect my yields and crop rotation? How do cropping system and irrigation method interact?
The project began in 1989 when the Lamesa Cotton Growers, a producer organization, agreed to provide the land and additional support enabling the Experiment Station to conduct research on full- size fields which then serve as a teaching arena for educational programs by the Extension Service. The first crops were planted in 1990. In 1995, an adjacent 80 acres of dryland was used.
Producers serve on the farm’s steering committee and help decide on research projects. Field days, demonstration tours and media visits help growers learn what the scientists find in their research.
Maintaining a project to obtain more than one year’s data is an important part of the AGCARES effort, says Dr. William Lyle, Experiment Station professor of irrigation engineering and steering committee chairman.
“Weather and growing conditions in West Texas vary so dramatically from year to year that you just can’t put much stock in one year’s data,” he said.
“AGCARES also has proven very helpful in explaining to regulatory agencies and non-agricultural organizations the farmer’s concern and efforts at protecting natural resources,” said Dr. Bob Robinson, South Plains District director with the Extension Service.
Research and demonstrations at AGCARES include low energy precision application (LEPA) and drip irrigation, comparison of five cropping systems, collecting evapotranspiration data to permit accurate and timely irrigation, fertilization studies, weed control in conservation tillage, evaluation and management of insect pests, techniques to help salvage weather-damaged crops, interseeding cotton with winter cover crops, and evaluation of economic potential for alternate crops.