History of Research Programs
- One of the primary purposes of the SWCRC has been to collect
data that will enhance the conversion of drylands farms to irrigated
farms as water is provided by the Dolores and the Animas-La Plata
Projects. Research has been concentrated on the selection of
appropriate irrigation systems, irrigation water management,
fertilization requirements, crop varieties, and cultural practices.
Experimentation has included both surface and sprinkler irrigation
techniques. On-farm economics has also received considerable
attention. Principal crops include alfalfa, small grains and
edible dry beans.
- Crop improvement through breeding and variety testing has
been an on-going program since the early 1970's. The SWCRC has
the only dryland dry bean breeding program in Colorado. Experimental
lines of dry beans, winter wheat, and spring grains are evaluated
for their adaptation to local conditions, disease resistance,
quality, and yield potential.
- A ten year dryland conservation tillage project was initiated
in 1988. This research was initially designed to develop a wheat-bean
rotation that will meet the residue requirements of the 1985
Food Security Act. The objectives of this project were since
broadened to include crop rotations and tillage practices which
will enhance soil and water conservation, water use efficiency,
and crop yields.
- The SWCRC participates in the Agricultural Experiment Station's
Russian wheat aphid (RWA) program. RWA activity is monitored
on a weekly basis. Host plant preference, cultural practices,
and chemical controls have been investigated.
- In 1992, a fruit tree project was initiated in collaboration
with Cooperative Extension, to evaluate the potential for an
orchard industry under the Dolores Project. Irrigation utilizing
drip and micro-sprays will be evaluated. Frost protection with
the micro-sprays will be critical if the project is to succeed.
In 1994, this project was expanded to include wine grapes. Eight
varieties were planted in the spring of 1994 and will be evaluated
for their adaptation to high elevation (6900 ft), yield potential,
and wine making qualities.
- Alternative crops are evaluated to identify adapted varieties,
determine markets, and develop best management practices. Oil
seed crops (safflower, rapeseed, crambe) and legumes (garbanzo
beans, cicer milkvetch, sainfoin) have been evaluated at SWCRC.
- A dryland plant materials demonstration garden has been established
at the SWCRC. It will provide side by side comparison of 115
grasses, legumes, and forbes and allow interested people to choose
the varieties that will work best in their situation.
- Faculty and graduate students from Colorado State University
at Fort Collins, Fruita, and other locations in Colorado provide
help in conducting collaborative research and demonstration projects.