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Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Conference--Water:The Foundation of Agricultural Sustainability

The title was a mouthful, but the water conference in Santa Fe was great. The three of us went, Wilbur, Aly and I. It was an all day event hosted by Western SARE and NMSU Extension. SARE is the Western Region Sustainable Agriculture and Education Program. WSARE includes the western US states, Alaska, Hawaii, Micronesia, American Samoa, and Guam, and there were representatives from several of these regions at the conference.

"SARE's mission is to advance—to the whole of American agriculture—innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education."

There were definitely some innovative ideas presented. I thought I knew a lot about rainwater catchment, but there's a lot going on out there. Our speaker, Billy Kniffen was from Texas where it's mandated that all government and university buildings have catchment systems. He has set up systems in remote rural locations that provide water for livestock and wildlife using roofs as small as 2ft x 3ft. There are 90,400 drops of water in one gallon!

Other speakers presented information on the balance between ag and urban water usage; the history of the acequias; "Prototype Design and Construction for Low Head Hydropower Gereration." (!!!)

The talk about gravity fed irrigation among the Navaho was really fascinating and gave us some ideas. This was an idea that snowballed for the speaker, as a one time experiment to find a way to irrigate at an old trading post. Using elevated tanks, the water gravity fed through drip tape to corn, no electrity, no pump. It worked so well, Professor Ed Martin found himself setting up programs in other remote spots in the Indian nations, at Canyon de Chelly, Dine College and others. The photos show the simple prototype that he set up at the conference. 60% of Navaho's must haul their water--both for personal use, and for kitchen gardens. Truly a timely and sustainable project.

Other projects detailed the exploration of lower water use alternative crops like teff, a non gluten grain, malt barley, wine grapes, and wild rye. Another project detailed monitoring of orchard crops using a "pressure bomb" to monitor for water stress.

Some links for these talks :

1 comment:

  1. Either here of there where you live and the conference you attended, water quality is tops in importance. I am gravely concerned what we are doing to the water table here. We have giant Factory Farms CAFO through our county and they are destroying the water table by "industrial pollution" manure with so many hormones and etc. How to stop this mess! I've gotten involved in an area group that is trying - really hard to change things here where the dairy industry rules the day. (kewauneecares.wordpress.com) volunteering with that group and spending time here in my gardens on the shores of Lake Michigan keeps me hoping that it will get better. Jack