NMSU receives grant for sustainable agriculture program
New Mexico State University's College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences has received a grant from a local business that is one small step in the direction of forever changing sustainable agriculture in New Mexico.
Wells Fargo has granted the college $70,000 to a program that aims to assist agriculturalists in transitioning to sustainable practices through advanced technological systems.
"It is really exciting to see something like sustainable agriculture moving toward what can benefit our farmers more in this community," said Terra Van Winter, director of development for the College of ACES. "We are looking for different ways to promote research and promote agriculture in the state. This is the perfect way for us to continue that research."
Through the Fast-Agricultural Response Management System, NMSU seeks to increase farm income and reduce environmental hazards. FARMS evaluates fertilizer, water, pesticide, hormone, defoliant, cover crop, soil amendment and variety use in conventional, precision-conventional, sustainable and precision-sustainable ways.
To carry out these goals, it is necessary to develop new and innovative equipment that automates farm practices. Precision agriculture equipment offers small and large growers the advantage of competing in world markets in less labor-intensive ways. In order to yield consistent results, these programs require permanent funding for long-term research technicians.
"The real advantage to FARMS is that we can use 20 to 30 percent less water and we have no environmental pollution in our streams, oceans and drinking water," said Joe Ellington, a tenured entomology professor at NMSU. "We can use less energy and generate more money that goes directly to the growers, which stimulates the local economy. New Mexicans will benefit as we get agriculture transformed."
About a dozen NMSU researchers in six disciplines work specifically on sustainable agriculture.
Ellington said this program relies solely on donations and grant funds to operate, and that this particular grant from Wells Fargo will support a technician and operations.
"Having Wells Fargo as a partner in this program is definitely going to benefit this program," Van Winter said. "This money is really going to go far."
Jennifer Riordan, vice president for community and media relations at Wells Fargo, said the bank is committed to investing in the state and research as it pertains to agriculture and the environment.
"We have a very passionate commitment to support sustainable agriculture programs in the community. This program is a perfect example of New Mexico research we want to invest in," she said. "We are excited to be working with NMSU on this great initiative. Certainly, this grant will help in making lasting change."
Ellington and Van Winter said they hope to continue this partnership with Wells Fargo, and are also looking into potential partnerships with other businesses and other industries in the community.