Going green

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

With rising energy costs, Americans are taking a harder look lately at alternative energy and ways to save on their energy bill. Agriculture producers are included in that mix.

Agriculture experts say that not only are producers looking for ways to save on costs, they’re also on the lookout for niche markets involved with providing environmentally and economically sound solutions.

With that in mind, the organizers of the 16th annual New Mexico Ag Expo on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds in Portales are offering up several avenues for attendees to learn more.

Patrick Kircher, Roosevelt County agricultural extension agent, said this year’s lineup of seminars will include one Wednesday entitled, “Alternative Crop Use and Production for Biofuels — Can New Mexico be a Major Player?” Mark Marsalis and Sangu Angadi, New Mexico State University Extension agronomists and crop physiologists, will lead the seminar.

“I think when I set out to find some seminar topics I wanted to find some things that were timely that people could get something out of,” Kircher said. “With (biofuels) such a hot topic, it was real easy fit where we have access to specialists from New Mexico State.”

Kircher said the seminar will explore two avenues of the biofuel industry. Marsalis will talk about experimentation into the use of forage crops that are less expensive to grow that can be used for products like ethanol. Angadi will focus on oil seed production that would be angled toward the use of products like biodiesel.

“People will be able to see what crops will fit with our area and our water patterns,” Kircher said. “Across the country, that (alternative fuels crops) is going to get more attention and be a part of what we do here.”

Kircher said a late entry into this year’s seminar lineup is one on farming with GPS (global positioning satellite) that will be put on by Wagner Equipment of Clovis.

He said the technology can improve a farmer’s fuel economy by utilizing GPS in plowing and field layout. It can provide precision plowing that will prevent covering the same ground twice, reducing fuel consumption. He said the direct and true lineup will also result in more efficient irrigation.

Even the vendor side of the Expo is becoming a little greener this year.

Grow Green, a new business out of Albuquerque that markets an organic growing system, will exhibit its products for the first year at Ag Expo.

Owner Todd Lepisto said he offers three types of products, including a solid and a liquid plant food and a live biology product. He said the word fertilizer is one he avoids because of the organic nature of his products.

“One of the main benefits we’re focused on is chemical fertilizer runoff,” Lepisto said. “That’s the biggest benefit here, there is no chemical runoff. Another is we can increase yields and use less water.”

Lepisto has 24 years experience in horticulture, having owned a landscaping businesses and worked as golf course management. He said growers large and small all over the country are looking for alternatives with fewer chemicals.

“Knowing the markets and everything, the timing was just right (for starting the business),” Lepisto said.

A vendor that people from all walks of life may be interested in is Dottie Neal’s Use The Wind business that sells wind turbines to individuals. She said they sell and install the Skystream 3.7, which connects to the grid and can help a homeowner, farmer or rancher lower electric bills by utilizing their own turbine.

The Ag Expo runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Roosevelt County Fairgrounds.

Admission is free.

Tuesday
9 a.m. — Expo and exhibits open
10 a.m. — Enlightened Horsemanship, Michael Richardson, Hico, Texas, Show Arena
11 a.m. — Antique Tractor Parade, Midway
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Chuck Wagon Lunch, $12, Portales Rotary Club
Noon — DFA Dairymen’s Lunch, Dairy Building
1 p.m. — Farming with GPS Wagner Equipment, Cacahuate Room, Jake Lopez Convention Center
1:30 p.m. — Antique Tractor Games
2 p.m. — Enlightened Horsemanship, Michael Richardson, Hico, Texas, Show Arena
2 p.m. — Antique Tractor Parade
5 p.m. — Expo Closes

Wednesday
9 a.m. — Expo and exhibits open
10 a.m. — Working Dog Clinic, Orin Barnes, Canyon, Texas, Show Arena
10:30 a.m. — Alternative Crop Use and Production for Biofuels, Can New Mexico be a major player?, Dr. Mark Marsalis and Dr. Sangu Angadi, NMSU Extension Agronomist and Crop Physiologist, Dairy Building
10:30 a.m. — Eat Smart Cooking, Connie Moyers, Roosevelt County Extension Home Economist, Cacahuate Room, Jake Lopez Convention Center
10:30 a.m. — Antique Tractor Games
11 a.m. — Antique Tractor Parade, Midway
Noon — Lunch, Bum Steer BBQ, $10
1:30 p.m. — Working Dog Clinic, Orin Barnes, Canyon, Texas, Show Arena
1:30 p.m. — Trichomoniasis in New Mexico, Dr. John Wenzel, NMSU Extension Veterinarian, Dairy Building
2 p.m. — Antique Tractor Parade
3 p.m. — Premium Grade and Registered Dairy Heifer Sale, Portales Livestock, Sale Tent
5 p.m. — Expo closes