In January 2002, an organic vegetable garden on the New Mexico State Univ. (NMSU) main campus was initiated to expose students to organic production practices and agricultural business management. The project named, OASIS (Organic Agriculture Students Inspiring Sustainability), is funded by a USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Grant and operated as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture. Students enroll in an organic vegetable production class during spring and fall semesters to help manage and work on the project. The CSA model of farming involves the sale of shares to members who receive weekly allotments of the farm's output. The objectives of the project are to provide students with a multi-disciplinary experiential educational opportunity, to investigate the feasibility of small scale organic drip irrigated farming in the Chihuahuan desert, to demonstrate the CSA model to the local community, to trial vegetable varieties, and to provide a site where faculty can conduct research or student laboratory exercises. This is the first organic vegetable garden on the NMSU main campus, the first organic vegetable production class, and the first CSA venture in southern New Mexico. The project has grown about 230 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in the first two years of production, and has grossed at total of $32,000 in revenues from both years on 2/3 of an acre of land. In the first year, 32 members purchased 18.5 full share equivalents, and in 2003, 69 members purchased 39.5 full share equivalents.
Constance L. Falk, Pauline Pao and Christopher S. Cramer*
Steven J. Guldan, Charles A. Martin and Constance L. Falk
`Sugar Snap' snap peas (Pisum sativum L.) were interseeded into a stand of `Española Improved' chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in July or Aug. in 1995, 1996, and 1997. Peas were interseeded as one or two rows per bed, giving planting rates of about 92 or 184 kg·ha-1, respectively. Our objectives were to determine: 1) if intercropped pea would reduce chile yield and vice versa; 2) the effects of pea planting rates and dates on pea yield. Intercropped peas reduced chile yield by about 22% in 1995, but had no significant effects in other years. Pea plants from the August intercrops reached the flowering stage but did not produce pods in 1995 or 1996; some small pods were produced from August intercrops in 1997. Final plant densities were lower and less uniform in 1996 than in 1995 or 1997. Intercropped peas yielded less than monocropped peas in all years. Pea yields ranged from 1370 to 3960 kg·ha-1 when monocropped, 31 kg·ha-1 (1996 single-row) to 646 kg·ha-1 (1995 double-row) when intercropped. In 1995 only, the double-row intercrop yielded more peas than the single-row intercrop. Pod yield/plant was reduced 80%, 98%, and 96% in 1995, 1996, and 1997, respectively, by intercropping. Estimated gross revenues for the treatments indicate that, under the price assumptions used in the study, interseeding snap peas into stands of chile in north-central New Mexico is not economically advantageous compared with monocropped chile.
Emmanuel Alves Dos Santos Hecher, Constance L. Falk, Juliette Enfield, Steven J. Guldan and Mark E. Uchanski
Relatively little season extension research has been conducted in the southwestern United States, particularly with low-cost high tunnels or hoop houses for small-scale farmers. In this study, the economics of winter production of two leafy crops [lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and spinach (Spinacia oleracea)] in high tunnels in two locations in New Mexico were investigated, first using a simulation analysis in which yields were stochastic variables followed by a sensitivity analysis to examine returns from the high tunnel designs more closely. The returns examined in the sensitivity analysis were net of high tunnel materials, crop seed cost, and electricity. Two planting dates were tested and three high tunnel designs were examined: a single layer covering the house (SL), a double layer inflated with air (DL), and a double layer inflated with air and containing black water barrels to store heat (DL+B). The SL and DL designs appear to be the more appropriate technology for both locations for spinach, whereas for lettuce the DL+B model might be a reasonable option in Alcalde, a more-northern location. Overall, the SL and DL model
s provided adequate protection for growing crops, were less expensive to build, provided more interior growing space, and resulted in higher probabilities of producing positive returns, compared with the DL+B design. The DL design performed similarly to the SL design, but required running electricity to the structure to power the inflation fan, adding to the cost. As a result, expected returns in all cases were higher using the SL design based on the results of the sensitivity analyses. Combining the risk and the sensitivity analyses provides growers with a unique evaluation process to make high tunnel design, planting date, and crop choices.
Kathryn M. Kleitz, Marisa M. Wall, Constance L. Falk, Charles A. Martin, Steven J. Guldan and Marta D. Remmenga
Field studies were conducted to determine the production potential of echinacea (Echinacea purpurea), valerian (Valeriana officinalis), mullein (Verbascum thapsus) and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica) medicinal herbs at two sites in New Mexico. Las Cruces, N.M., is at an elevation of 3,891 ft (1,186 m) and has an average of 220 frost free days per year, whereas Alcalde, N.M., is at an elevation of 5,719 ft (1,743 m) and averages 152 frost-free days per year. In-row plant spacings of 12, 18 and 24 inches (30.5, 45.7, and 61.0 cm) were compared at both locations. The corresponding plant densities for the 12, 18 and 24 inch spacings were 14,520 plants/acre (35,878 plants/ha), 9,680 plants/acre (23,919 plants/ha), and 7,260 plants/acre (17,939 plants/ha), respectively. Data were collected on growth rates, fresh yield, and dry yield for the herbs grown at each site. All crops at both sites had highest plot yields at the 12-inch spacing, suggesting that optimum in-row plant spacings are at or below the 12-inch spacing. Yields of 1.94 ton/acre (4.349 t·ha-1) of dried yerba mansa root, 0.99 ton/acre (2.219 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 2.30 ton/acre (5.156 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were realized at the 12-inch spacing at Las Cruces in southern New Mexico. Yields of 1.16 ton/acre (2.600 t·ha-1) of dried valerian root, 0.93 ton/acre (2.085 t·ha-1) of dried echinacea root, and 0.51 ton/acre (1.143 t·ha-1) of dried mullein leaves were harvested at the 12-inch spacing at Alcalde in northern New Mexico. Yields of fresh echinacea flowers were 1.56 ton/acre (3.497 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces. Yields of dried mullein flowers were 0.68 ton/acre (1.524 t·ha-1) in Las Cruces and 0.66 ton/acre (1.479 t·ha-1) in Alcalde.
Kathryn M. Kleitz, Marisa M. Wall, Constance L. Falk, Charles A. Martin, Marta D. Remmenga and Steven J. Guldan
Field studies were conducted in 1995 and 1996 at Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Alcalde, New Mexico, to compare direct seeding to transplanting for stand establishment and yield estimates of calendula (Calendula officinalis), catnip (Nepeta cataria), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica), and globemallow (Sphaeralcea spp.). Calendula established well from seed or transplants at both sites. Transplanting increased establishment of lemon balm, catnip, stinging nettle, and globemallow. Lemon balm establishment was increased by 230% to 400% at Las Cruces, and catnip establishment was increased by 84% to 100% at Alcalde by transplanting. Direct seeding resulted in little or no stand establishment for stinging nettle and globemallow at Alcalde. In 1996, transplants increased lemon balm and stinging nettle dry weight yields by a factor of three or more at both sites. Dry weight yields of transplanted catnip were 4.86 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 7.90 t·ha−1 in 1996 in Las Cruces. Alcalde yields for transplanted dried catnip were 2.43 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 5.12 t·ha−1 in 1996. Transplanted globemallow dry weight yields were 6.04 t·ha−1 in 1995 and 9.17 t·ha−1 in 1996 for Las Cruces. Transplanted stinging nettle yield in Alcalde was 5.91 t·ha−1 for plants that overwintered and were harvested in the second season. Transplanting versus direct seeding medicinal herbs has the potential to substantially increase stand establishment and yield in New Mexico, particularly in the more northern and cooler part of the state.
Constance L. Falk, Hildegard van Voorthuizen, Marisa M. Wall, Kathryn M. Kleitz, Steven J. Guldan and Charles A. Martin
Cost and return estimates are presented for selected medicinal herbs grown in a plant-spacing study at two sites in New Mexico. The selected herbs were echinacea [Echinacea purpurea (L.) Moench], valerian (Valeriana officinalis L.), and yerba mansa (Anemopsis californica Nutt.). Significant returns to land and risk were observed in the crops grown at the closest plant spacing, 12 inches (30 cm). Return to land and risk after two growing seasons from echinacea was estimated for a 10-acre (4-ha) farm to be $16,093/acre ($39,750/ha) in Las Cruces and $14,612/acre ($36,092/ha) in Alcalde.
Mark E. Uchanski, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, Steven J. Guldan, Constance L. Falk, Manoj Shukla and Juliette Enfield
Replicated temperature data from passively heated high tunnels are lacking, especially in the southwestern United States. Field studies were conducted over three seasons in two locations in New Mexico—a southern site in Las Cruces and a northern site in Alcalde—to characterize the crop environment in three high-tunnel designs during the winter growing season (October–March). High tunnels were 16 × 32 ft and oriented with the long edge running east to west. Heavyweight woven plastic covered the single-layer (SL) high-tunnel design. Double-layer designs (DL) were covered with a lightweight woven plastic on the bottom, followed by a second layer of the heavyweight plastic inflated with a fan. A heat sink was created using 16 55-gal barrels painted black, filled with water, and aligned along the north side of the double layer for the DL+B design. Soil temperature (3 inches deep) and air temperature (1 ft above the soil surface) were recorded inside the high tunnel, inside the high tunnel under a floating rowcover, and outside the high tunnel. In addition, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was recorded inside and outside the high tunnels during or near the winter solstice each year of the study. Daily air and soil temperature minimums were highest in the DL+B design and lowest in the SL design. Maximum air and soil temperatures did not significantly differ between high-tunnel designs, although the DL+B design measurements were consistently lower. During season 1, the SL design had significantly higher PAR transmission than the other two designs. In the northern location, the difference became insignificant during seasons 2 and 3, likely due to dust accumulation and plastic aging. In the southern location, the SL design maintained higher PAR transmission throughout the study, possibly due to plastic cleaning. Data collected in this study can help inform the decisions of high-tunnel growers and researchers in the region.