What is in this article?:
- New generation farmers add 21st Century spin to operation
- Irrigation technology
- EQIP is one of dozens of programs offered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service.
- The Ogallala water level is less than half of its capacity.
- Computerized pivot panels alert the Gonzales brothers to any problems via text message.
LEPA System using Bubblers to disperse water evenly on alfalfa field
Joseph and Jeremy Gonzales are doing something different with their Gonzales Land and Cattle operation in Lovington, New Mexico, and it’s got neighbors noticing.
There is a marked difference in this patch of the southeastern New Mexico community with vibrant, green fields of alfalfa. How are these producers beating the odds against the drought and perpetual wind that nearly all farmers and ranchers face in New Mexico?
The secret is in the water – not how much is used but how it is applied. Thanks to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Gonzales brothers replaced their antiquated and inefficient pivot systems with the Low-Elevation Spray Application (LESA) system.
EQIP is one of dozens of programs offered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) private farmers and ranchers as well as the Tribes and Pueblos in New Mexico can use to improve their agricultural operations. “We are beginning, young producers and a little help allows us to implement practices such as the LESA system,” said Jeremy.
The brothers used this technical and financial assistance and added a 21st Century spin to their operation. Instead of having to physically drive to the pivot system or turn a nozzle, Joseph or Jeremy can grab their smart phones, press a few keys, and their center pivots kick-on and shut-off. Yeah, there’s an app for using the center pivot.
The Gonzales brothers admit that they were uncertain at times about becoming full-time producers. The thought of expansion was daunting but not overwhelming. They slowly built up to 260 acres. Jeremy, 31, and Joseph, 26, are not typical New Mexico farmers. This state has the oldest median age of farmers in America – at nearly 60 years of age.
The LESA system provides a lengthened nozzle extension from the center pivot lines, which offers a more even spray pattern so that most of the water dispensed reaches the soil. Traditional center pivot systems spray from a higher plane and are subject to solar and wind evaporation.