A Black Cow with a Tag in Its Ear
Cows (Photo Taken by Alec Richards)

When the Spanish colonized New Mexico, they brought a variety of seeds from their homeland and Central America as well as an array of livestock- sheep, goats, cattle, and horses. Along with the livestock came the need to feed these animals with wild and cultivated forage crops. SASC evaluates alfalfa varieties as well as alternative forage crops.

SASC at Alcalde Publications

How-to Guides and Circulars

  • A609_Relay Intercropping Brassicas into Chile and Sweet Corn
    Intercropping is a type of multiple cropping system in which two or more crops are grown simultaneously on the same field. Relay intercropping is the production of a second crop planted into a field when the first crop has reached its reproductive stage but before physiological maturity. Because forage brassicas are frost-tolerant, they are potentially useful as a second crop in the high-desert regions of the southwestern United States. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of intercropping four brassicas on the yields of chile and sweet corn in a high desert region of north-central New Mexico.

Technical Publications

  • The 2002, 2003, 2004 New Mexico Alfalfa Variety Test Report
    Choosing a good alfalfa variety is a key step in establishing a highly productive stand of alfalfa whether for hay or pasture. This report, which is a collaborative effort of New Mexico State University scientists at agricultural science centers throughout the state, provides yield data for alfalfa varieties included in yield trials in New Mexico and guidelines for variety selection.

Additional NMSU Publications

How-to Guides and Circulars

  • BL 796_ Perennial Cool-Season Forage Legume Performance
    in Diverse Soil Moisture Treatments, Southern High Plains, USA. While it is anticipated that few species will be better adapted to a region than those already commonly grown, continued screening is needed to identify the potential of species in previously untested environments. Marginal areas and reclamation sites that should be established in permanent cover are of notable concern. If species adapted to marginal lands can be grazed as pasture or harvested as hay, an economic benefit in addition to soil stabilization benefits can be derived.
  • Circular 585_Grazing Systems and Management for Irrigated Pastures in New Mexico
    Whether animals are owned to generate income or for work, for pleasure or for aesthetics, feeding costs can be reduced greatly with irrigated pastures in New Mexico. Having the animal harvest forage by grazing saves on the costs of equipment and labor (such as harvesting, storing, and feeding of stored feeds). Properly managed irrigated pastures often can meet the nutritional demands of most livestock. They also lend themselves as easy supplementation for all higher levels of animal productivity, with the exception of maximum milk production and general consumer-quality beef finishing. To an extent, better pasture management reaps higher forage quality and yields. It also offers savings for some inputs and greater returns for others.
  • Circular 654_Selecting Alfalfa Varieties for New Mexico
    A successful alfalfa hay production system begins with selecting good varieties based on local adaptation; winter hardiness; resistance to diseases, insects, and nematodes; grazing or traffic tolerance; and seed quality, rather than seed cost or forage quality. Sustained benefit from the variety selection process in the form of higher yields-and therefore higher returns per acre over a longer life of the stand-is dependent on proper establishment, fertility, irrigation, harvest management, and pest control.

Technical Publications

Journal Articles & External Publications

  • Agronomy Journal, Vol. 95, No. 6, p. 1497-1503, Nov. 2003:
    "Irrigated Tall Fescue-Legume Communities in the Southern Rocky Mountains". Short-term testing of perennial forages may not determine their long-term persistence and productivity. A study initiated in 1994 at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde was continued from 1998 to 2001, comparing irrigated monoculture tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) and tall fescue in binary mixtures with each of alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.), cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.), or kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M.B.) in three randomized complete blocks. Percentage of harvested grass in mixtures declined in midseason, but grass dry matter (DM) yield increased across the season. **Abstract only linked**
  • Crop Science, Vol. 92 No. 6, 1998:
    "Evaluation of Irrigated Tall Fescue-Legume Communities in the Steppe of the Southern Rocky Mountains". Producers in the irrigated steppe of the southern Rocky Mountains are seeking ways to improve the summer productivity of their established cool-season grass pastures, commonly tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.). From 1994 to 1997, a study was conducted under irrigation at the New Mexico State University Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center, in which dry matter yield of monoculture tall fescue was compared with that of swards containing tall fescue in mixtures with alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.), cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.), and kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M.B.) in a randomized complete block design with three blocks. **Abstract only linked**
  • Crop Science, Vol. 46, No. 1, p. 330-336, Received: Feb 7, 2005:
    "Performance of Irrigated Tall Fescue-Legume Communities under Two Grazing Frequencies in the Southern Rocky Mountains, USA". Irrigated pastures form a significant component of agriculture in the irrigated steppe of the southern Rocky Mountains, USA. Information is limited, however, describing performance of grazed binary perennial cool-season grass-legume mixtures in the region. Established monoculture tall fescue [Festuca arundinacea Schreb. = Lolium arundinaceum (Schreb.) S.J. Darbyshire] + 134 kg N -1 (MONO) and tall fescue mixed with alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) (ALF/TF), birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus L.) (BFT/TF), cicer milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.) (CM/TF), or kura clover (Trifolium ambiguum M.B.) (KC/TF) at New Mexico State University's Sustainable Agriculture Science Center at Alcalde were subjected to two grazing frequencies (grazed monthly or bimonthly mid-May to mid-September) from 1998 to 2000. Grass, legume, and combined dry matter (DM) yields were measured in May 1998 to 2001.** Abstract only linked**
  • Forage and Grazinglands, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2009:
    "Using Forage Brassicas Under Irrigation in Mid-latitude, High-elevation Forage and Grazing Land Biomes". Brassicas may be useful for autumn forage in irrigated mid-latitude, high-elevation steppe/desert biomes. Aboveground dry matter yields and crude protein (CP) of kale (Brassica oleracea L.), rape (Brassica napus L.), and turnip (Brassica rapa L.) planted mid July and mid August were compared in northern New Mexico, USA, in multiple-location, three-cut [one 60 days after planting (DAP) and two 30-day regrowth periods] studies with four replications. **Abstract only linked**