For some farmers, the first day of the Four States Agricultural Exposition was more about education than entertainment.
Colorado State University extension agents organized an invasive weed symposium and pesticide applicators workshop that lasted all day. About 35 people came to get recertified for private and commercial pesticide application, which most producers are required to do every three years. Speakers from CSU, New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture taught about the pros and pitfalls of pesticides, in the first of several educational events scheduled for the weekend.
Speakers went over current Colorado and New Mexico laws about pesticides and herbicides, practical tips for application and how to avoid problems like herbicide resistant weeds and invasive species. Erin Worth, of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, warned commercial applicators of the dangers of pesticide “drift” and allowing deadly pesticides like Fumitoxin to get into the wrong hands.
“Read the labels,” she said, a phrase which was repeated often throughout the workshop.
Leslie Beck, a NMSU extension agent, talked about how to avoid herbicide-resistant weeds, both as a private or commercial applicator. She recommended regularly rotating products like Roundup between fields, using new ones regularly and other tactics to “confuse” weeds so that they don’t become resistant to too many herbicides.
“It’s better to be proactive than reactive,” she said. “It’s important to not neglect the weeds in your surrounding area. It’s hard enough to implement the time, the money and the labor into controlling the weeds that you have, but what happens if you have weedy fields directly surrounding your fields?”
In the same vein, the last lecture of the day, by Kurt Young of NMSU, focused specifically on invasive weeds on range land in Colorado and New Mexico.
CSU extension agent Gus Westerman said he thought the symposium and workshop went well, though he would have liked to see better attendance.
“We got some great feedback,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for speakers from CSU to get together with people from New Mexico State, and just pool a bunch of resources together.”
This is the third year re-certification classes have been held at the Ag Expo, and the first time the CSU extensions partnered with the San Juan Basin extension office to host the annual weed symposium there.
On Friday, Westerman taught a class on pest management for greenhouses and high tunnels, and CSU helped to organize several other lectures and workshops throughout the Expo, including an appearance by State Rep. Barbara McLachlan and Marc Catlin, scheduled for Saturday.