ACES Impact Stories

Water Use and Conservation

Water is the most limiting resource for New Mexico. All aspects of water use affect agricultural efficiency, profitability, and human health. Water management will become more critical as water demands for urbanization and industrialization increase.

Understanding Western Soils: Educational Animations & Videos

"Understanding Western Soils" focuses on key soil properties and techniques for sampling and testing arid western soils. These fifteen videos highlight topics of concern to Western producers, such as the Olsen P test, Sodium Adsorption Ratio, saturated paste, and soil texture/water-holding capacity. High-contrast animation clarifies how salts compete with plants for water. In a survey of 90 viewers (including producers, students, and teachers), 40% reported a 25-50% knowledge increase and 60% a 75-100% knowledge increase, on a given topic. Viewed more than 32,000 times, shared more than 500 times, these videos have received 297 "likes" at YouTube.

Jeanne Gleason,, Innovative Media Research & Extension Department Head

Harnessing Fire - Training private landowners how to use prescribed fire to reduce wildfire hazards and increase watershed health

A century of fire exclusion has negatively impacted NM's forests and watersheds. Large and severe wildfires are threatening lives, property, wildlife habitat, watersheds, and forests. Prescribed burning is a tool that can be used to mitigate negative impacts of wildfire. NMSU Cooperative Extension Service is training the next generation of landowners on the safe and effective use of prescribed fire. Over the course of three years, 500 acres have been burned by private landowner participants. 87% of participants showed improved knowledge and skillset, and 93% indicated they intended to pursue additional burning opportunities on their own land.

Douglas Cram,, Extension Forestry and Fire Specialist

Teaching and training the next generation of dairy professionals

Despite declining resources to teach young dairy professionals modern dairy management, NMSU Dairy Extension leads a consortium of universities to provide practical dairy teaching in a 6-week intensive summer program. Total reach in 10-yrs.: 427 students from 48 universities. Impact: 4 out of 5 students employed in agriculture, 2 out of 3 students employed in dairy industry, 1 out of 3 students working on/managing a dairy. Program received 2017 Dairy Sustainability Award in Community Partnerships.

Robert Hagevoort,, Extension Dairy Specialist

Sustainable management of aquatic resources

Water is one of the most important natural resources in New Mexico, and is particularly vulnerable to degradation because if its scarcity. Water quality is essential for human, ecosystem and economic health. Understanding the importance of healthy aquatic ecosystems and of management practices that protect watersheds and water quality is critical. Extension programming targeting a diverse audience, including children, Master Gardeners, and Pesticide applicators has increased knowledge of the importance of water quality. 78% of participants showed improved knowledge, 94% changed their attitudes toward how their practices impact water quality, and 74% indicated a desire to change a current practice.

Rossana Sallenave,, Extension Aquatic Ecology Specialist

Stronger Economies Together (SET)

SET is a USDA Rural Development program in partnership with the nation's Land Grant Institutions. The SET program seeks to address the economic development challenges that rural communities and areas face today by encouraging, facilitating and supporting efforts to design and implement multi-county economic development plans and projects that strategically build on the current and emerging economic strengths of that region. New Mexico State University has facilitated the establishment of nine SET regions involving 32 of the state's 33 counties.

Michael Patrick,, Associate Professor, Extension. Specialist/Economic Dev. Coordinator

World-class chemical analysis instrumentation brought to the NMSU College of ACES

The ACES Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation Lab (CAIL) installed $1.8 M worth of new analytical equipment in 2017, comprising a high-resolution Orbitrap Fusion mass spectrometer, custom signal processing electronics, and a nano-flow liquid chromatography system. This instrumentation is state-for-the art for chemical characterization of extremely complex mixtures and will be used in applications that range from alternative fuel research, disease research, alternative water source uses and fundamental biology. A truly interdisciplinary effort, the project draws support from three colleges.

Tanner Schaub,, Director, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety

Advanced Chemical Analysis Capability for Alternative Water Source Research

Researchers with the ACES Chemical Analysis and Instrumentation Laboratory are working with collaborators in the NMSU College of Engineering to use state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation to address regional water issues. The project is funded through the WRRI/Bureau of Reclamation collaborative and will provide novel and robust characterization of contaminants (and their conversion products) in urban waste water and to describe complex mixtures of residual organics in New Mexican water sources. This information will aid in developing ways to decontaminate or mitigate pollution in urban waters.

Tanner Schaub,, Director, Center for Animal Health and Food Safety

40-Fold Extension for Water Contaminant Treatment Life

Recalcitrant water contaminant treatment requires strong oxidants when traditional methods are inhibited, but oxidant decay is rapid. We all drink groundwater, contaminants impact drinking water, and these contaminants are typically carcinogenic. A novel molecular container, Hydroxypropyl-ß-cyclodextrin, was used, by NMSU (KC Carroll) and University of Alabama (Geoffrey Tick) researchers, to stabilize ozone (O³). O³ half-life increased up to 40-fold, which advanced O³ water treatment knowledge, extended O3 feasibility, and enabled treatment of contaminated water. This new water treatment method will decrease human exposure to carcinogens. Results can be used worldwide at water treatment plants, enabling cleanup of contaminated groundwater.

Contact: K.C. Carroll

Pillars: Water Use and Conservation, Family Development and Health of New Mexicans, and Environmental Stewardship

Discovery of a New Groundwater Contaminant Remediation Technique

Typical cleanup methods are ineffective for groundwater contaminated with organic liquids (e.g., gasoline spill). Groundwater contaminants affect drinking water, and typically carcinogenic. NMSU (KC Carroll) and University of Alabama (Geoffrey Tick) researchers invented an organic liquid contaminant treatment using vegetable oil injection, which incased the organic liquid contaminant, reducing contaminant transfer to groundwater, and eliminated groundwater contamination and the need for continuous contaminant treatment. This new water treatment method will decrease human exposure to carcinogens, and could save a million dollars per year at each contaminated groundwater site compared to above-ground treatments.

Contact: K.C. Carroll

Pillars: Water Use and Conservation, Family Development and Health of New Mexicans, and Environmental Stewardship

Water Efficient, Low Input, Well Adapted, Alternative Crops to Diversify Cropping Systems in the Southern High Plains

Ogallala aquifer, the major irrigation resource in the Great Plains, is declining fast. If current use of the aquifer continues, more than 35% of irrigated acreage producing $2.5 billion of agriculture produce will be dryland in two decades. Our research on such crops as winter canola, safflower and guar is developing more resource-efficient and climate-resilient cropping systems that offer rotational benefits. In addition to sustaining the Ogallala aquifer, these crops produce raw materials for oil and natural gas, food, dairy and bioenergy industries. When fully developed, these crops will contribute $10 to $25 million yearly to the economy in the region.

Contact: Sangamesh Angadi

Pillar: Food & Fiber Production and Marketing, Water Use and Conservation

New soil information to improve land management

Spatially explicit soil information (i.e., soil maps) are foundational for understanding and forecasting hydrological and ecological dynamics necessary for land use planning and management in NM. However, large areas of arid lands lack adequate soil information for effective land management. NMSU researchers were members of an interdisciplinary team that used advanced machine learning methods to predict six soil properties (organic C, total N, bulk density, pH, sand, and clay) at seven standardized depths, and two soil classification levels at 100 m spatial resolution across the continental USA. Soil property predictions may support improved forecasts of water and plant dynamics.

Contact: Colby Brungard

Pillar: Environmental Stewardship, Water Use and Conservation

Gold King Mine Spill Response

We were first responders in evaluating and monitoring the impacts of the 2015 Gold King Mine spill into the Animas River. We had the trust of the Navajo people to sample farmland during the emergency response as EPA responders were being expelled. Our data is showing that heavy metals like lead are below regulatory limits and our outreach is helping farmers to have confidence in resuming their activities. Our data is making huge contributions into the scientific body of knowledge regarding farm-land downstream of a legacy mining district.

Contact: Kevin Lombard

Pillars: Environmental Stewardship, Water Use and Conservation, Family Development and Health of New Mexicans

Rescuing Economically Troubled Golf Courses in New Mexico

With just over 100 golf courses in New Mexico that support a $1+ billion green industry and 20-50 employees per golf course, efforts to provide economic stability for troubled golf courses were pursued. I provided leadership to improve course conditions, increase play, increase student support and stabilize personnel all in an effort to keep the courses open. Based on my efforts and direction, the City of Gallup undertook a $2 million irrigation renovation and hired an NMSU-educated superintendent rather than close the golf course.

Contact: Ryan Goss

Pillar: Water Use and Conservation

Expanding CoCoRaHS in New Mexico

Knowing how much precipitation is falling over New Mexico rangelands is essential for Farm Service Agency decision-making. Timely precipitation translates to available forage, and if an area is unusually dry then this may mean producers are eligible for the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. However, precipitation in New Mexico is highly spatially variable and precipitation monitoring tends to be concentrated near urban areas. PES faculty (Steele, DuBois) have been introducing ranchers to the citizen science "CoCoRaHS" program, encouraging them to report precipitation at their ranch location, contributing to quality-controlled databases and helping local FSA decision-making.

Contact: Caitriana Steele

Pillars: Water Use and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship

Wastewater for Irrigation

Our greenhouse study showed that using treated municipal wastewater for irrigation doesn't reduce yields of three bioenergy crops (energy sorghum, canola, and switchgrass) and additionally improves the soil organic carbon content of salt affected lands thus extending the availability of freshwater in arid regions. These results are undergoing field testing currently. Our field characterization has shown that arsenic is present in Animas River watershed soils at higher levels than recommended by the US EPA. However, we are testing the mobility of the arsenic to determine if its presence is a threat to water and food quality.

Contact: April Ulery, Professor

Pillars: Water Use and Conservation, Environmental Stewardship

Cover crops in limited irrigated winter wheat-sorghum fallow

The western US has lost more than 50% of native biodiversity since we started cultivation, substantially reducing the agronomic and ecosystem services. Crop diversification and cover crops research at the Agricultural Science Center-Clovis revealed improvement in efficiency, profitability, and environmental quality in dryland and limited-irrigation cropping systems, which in the long-term could increase water use efficiency by up to 25% and improve the response of selected soil health indicators by up to 17%.

Contact: Rajan Ghimire

Pillars: Food & Fiber Production and Marketing, Water Use and Conservation