Conservation farming meeting set April 29 in Weslaco

WESLACO  –  Growers interested in best management practices that can help improve the soil health of their fields are encouraged to attend “Conservation Farming: Financial and Technical Assistance,” to be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 29 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco.

Rene Ortega, farm equipment operator at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, explains the mechanics of a laser land leveler to Ashley Gregory,

Rene Ortega, farm equipment operator at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center at Weslaco, explains the mechanics of a laser land leveler to Ashley Gregory, an AgriLife Extension assistant for water programs. (AgriLife Communications photo by Rod Santa Ana)

The center is located at 2415 East U.S. Highway 83. The program is free and includes lunch.

“Growers are invited to come and learn about the conservation practices and programs that offer support for their field operations,” said Ashley Gregory, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service assistant for the Texas Water Resources Institute.

Various agencies offer financial and technical assistance to implement practices such as land levelling and pipeline installation, which help improve water-use efficiency and reduce nutrient losses from runoff, Gregory said.

“Such practices also help the environment,” she said. “The Arroyo Colorado still has nutrient, sediment and bacteria impairments. Healthy soils play a key role in reducing those harmful inputs into the Arroyo Colorado.”

Representatives of several state and federal agencies that offer financial and technical assistance with improving soils will be on hand to provide information, Gregory said.

Topics and their speakers include:

–    “Overview of issues in the Arroyo Colorado watershed,” Gregory with Ronnie Ramirez, conservation planner, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Harlingen.

–    “Managing the Rio Grande waters,” Erasmo Yarrito Jr., Rio Grande watermaster, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Harlingen.

–    “El Nino or ‘La Nada’: Will drought return this year?” Weather forecast for the upcoming season,” Barry Goldsmith, warning coordination meteorologist, National Weather Service, Brownsville.

–    “Surge valve cooperative and narrow border irrigation,” Tom McLemore, project manager, Texas Project for Ag Water Efficiency, Harlingen.

–    “Financial and technical assistance programs,” Raul Hinojosa, district conservationist, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Edinburg.

–    “Marketing and finance programs,” Nelda Garza, field representative, Texas Department of Agriculture, San Juan.

–    “Microloan and operating loan programs,” Arnulfo Lerma and Cristobal Perez, farm loan manager and county executive director, respectively, USDA-Farm Service Agency, Edinburg.

The program concludes with a question and answer session.

For more information, contact Gregory at 956-968-5581.

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