Farmers turn proactive in continuing drought conditions

Posted at: 02/28/2013 4:30 PM
Updated at: 02/28/2013 5:22 PM
By: Eddie Garcia, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The continuing drought is forcing farmers to become scientists in order to survive.

It looks like they'll have to continue innovating because this season's irrigation water is in short supply.

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is opening farming irrigation ditches Friday, but they are warning farmers that water is running low this year - even lower than last year.

Michael Lundmark says his winter wheat field is coming up short. He said it's just disappointing - it should be five times taller by now.   

"Never in my life have I seen this condition," said Lundmark.

The Conservancy District is warning farmers that reservoirs like Cochiti lake are only 1/3 as full as they should be, which could cause some irrigation ditches to run dry.

The drought is forcing Lundmark to run his Valencia County farm like a science lab. He says farmers have no choice.

"We have to concrete-line our ditches, we have to put in pipelines, we have to laser level our fields to make sure that water efficiency is there," Lundmark said.

Lundmark said the key is education.

He wants lawmakers to fund the Cooperative Extension Office and Agricultural Science Centers.

He says the measure would be exactly what farmers need to survive the future.

"The amount of knowledge a successful farmer has to have today is vastly greater than a farmer in the 1930's or 40's had to deal with - 50's 60's," said Lundmark.

In the meantime, Lundmark has to do the hard work - not just in the wheat field - but in the field of science.

"We're going to have a tough year, we're going to deal with it and we're going to come out of it," he said.