Land usage for farming is usually maintained to feed cattle here in New Mexico.
The water used to irrigate these fields comes from the Rio Grande. Currently the City of
Albuquerque has implemented many water conserving laws and technologies that have help
save water such as low flow toilets, xeroscapes, and smart watering-just to name a few.
New Mexico's agricultural economy is dependent on dairy products and beef cattle. One
area of water conservation that is overlooked and needs to be examined is the plants needed
to feed the cattle, such as alfalfa. Alfalfa is a crop that is considered to use a large
amount of water to sustain life Many studies have revealed that Alfalfa has an estimated
evapotranspiration rate of ~6.5 feet (1900 mm) in desert regions (Hutmacher et al).
This would estimate that 0.018 feet are needed daily to sustain the alfalfa plants metabolic
activities. Evapotranspiration is the combination of evaporation and transpiration
that fosters plant life (Pelman, 2012). In 2007, a government survey concluded that the
average size of harvested cropland was 1,009,683 acres (Parker, 2012). If we convert the
acres to feet, then there is about 4.3982E10 square feet in the harvested cropland. If
we multiply the evapotranspiration we get the consumption volume of water needed to sustain
the field of alfalfa, which is about 8 million cubic feet of Rio Grande water supply from surface or aquifer.
The most frequent reason cited for this trend is increased demand by an expanding dairy
industry, other market demands, and lack of profitable alternative crops.
|Harvested Cropland (acres)||1,118,176||856,166||1,009,683|
Innovation in agriculture
Feedlots by city and county
In Albuquerque (Bernalillo) there are 6-Arid lowlands
Carlsbad (Eddy) Arid lowlands
Deming (Luna) (1) arid lowland
Hillsboro Sierra (1) arid lowland
Jarales Valencia (1) arid lowland
La luz Otero (1) arid lowland
Mayhill otero (1) arid lowlands
http://www.ers.usda.gov/statefacts/NM.HTM Data from website.
One technology used in fencing is the use of 12 foot creep gate which allows small that
weigh about 700 lbs. access to higher quality foraging areas.
The problem with arid soil in the southwest is the high salinity concentrations and remote areas are harder to maintain a safe level.
Nutrition cycle of cows: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/400/400-012/400-012_pdf.pdf
Data from the American Angus Association indicated that a mature weight for beef cows is 1,200 pounds (Jaeger et al, 2004:14): http://extension.oregonstate.edu/catalog/pdf/em/em8827.pdf
The following website shows how much a cattle need to eat to be sustained and grow.
Water quality in the Rio Grande Valley
Extra miscellaneous info
Plan A failed. Agriculture companies are private and there is no incentive to use less water.
Plan B: Alternative market crops that can be grown for bio diesel
Obtainable yield of soybean through evapotranspiration