Learn about drone technology for crop improvement, more at Leyendecker field day

What role do drones play in helping to improve crops? Attendees at this year’s field day at the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center will get the chance to learn more about how technology is helping farmers find solutions to crop issues.

The field day will begin with registration at 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at the research center, 7200 Plant Science Circle in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Field tours will be offered from 8 a.m. to noon, and brunch will be provided from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Along with drone technology, research presentations include water use efficiency of chile, strategies for controlling weeds, breeding chile peppers, alternative crops for sustainable bioeconomy, jujube production in southern New Mexico, management of soilborne pathogens, hemp variety trials and improving irrigation in pecans.

Dave Lowry, superintendent of the Leyendecker Plant Science Research Center, said the center’s faculty work diligently to address issues and threats facing agriculturalists not just in New Mexico, but across the United States and globally.

“For example, as we all know, water is scarce here in the desert southwest,” Lowry said. “As is our duty and responsibility to our stakeholders in the state, faculty are focusing in many different sectors of this broad issue but all with the same goal in mind, how do we maximize the benefit from our most precious natural resource?”

As a response, Lowry said, researchers are looking at more precise modes of irrigation to potentially increase efficiency and reduce overall consumption, utilizing cross-breeding as a way to focus on drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant varieties of multiple staple crops for New Mexico, experimenting with novel crops to the Las Cruces region that could possibly do well in the local climate, and open a new commodity market and test drone technology, possibly artificial intelligence in the near future, to better adapt current crop varieties and management practices to the ever-changing climate.

“This work is just what is being done ‘in the field,’ but in order to make it viable information for the end user, there is much collaboration between colleges, from agriculture to economics to engineering,” Lowry said. “It is exciting to see the progress already being made by our faculty conducting research here at Leyendecker. We have a great line-up of presentations for our field day, and I hope we have a big audience so more folks know the work that goes on here.”

Masks are recommended for attendees. If you are individual with a disability who is in need of an auxiliary aid or service to participate, contact Autumn Martinez at 575-636-3132 or [email protected].