Our county's agriculture must remain competitive within local, national and even international markets. This requires a continuous flow of appropriate technology addressing local needs within New Mexico. Our Extension program works to maintain and strengthen programs that address these needs. Water is one of the most important limiting resources for our county's agriculture. All aspects of water use affect agricultural efficiency and profitability. Water management will become more critical as water demands for urbanization and industrialization increase.
Fruit growers in Santa Fe County continue to encounter problems and request continual assistance with orchard management practices, which will help them, improve the overall condition of their orchards and ultimately enhance their yields. A gradual adoption of new and sound orchard management practices has taken place over the past few years. But keeping the producers up-to-date is critical for them to be able to remain competitive.
Specialty Crop Production & Management
In the last 20 years, property values in Santa Fe County have soared thus making prices attractive for landowners to sell their property, while the land taxes has made it difficult for those who want to retain their land to be able to afford the taxes due to their high valuations. Most of those who have retained their land have done so because of their strong ties to the land. These people have traditionally farmed because certain specialty crops are staple foods within their household and are cheaper produce than to purchase. In order realize a larger profit from their small farms, farmers must also produce other specialty crops, which can be sold at a high value through direct sales to the consumer or to specialty restaurants. Newcomers into the Santa Fe area have increased the demand for some the traditional and non-traditional specialty crops. But in order to make it worthwhile to produce certain crops, the producer must also be willing to do some value added things to the crop to increase the value.
Resource conservation and good stewardship of the land are important to the sustainability of the environment. Educating the public on sound rangeland conservation practices and responsible uses whether by the ranching, recreation, hunting or other harvesting communities will help insure that the opportunities will be available for future generations while minimizing the degradation of the land. All of these communities are necessary in varying degrees and should be monitored closely and continuously to ascertain that a balance in resources is achieved. Rangelands also continue to become infested with non-native species of weeds and brush which are becoming quite invasive and in some instances creating monocultures. Species such as these have become expensive to control as they reduce the amount of palatable forage for the livestock and wildlife and our control options may be somewhat limited.