Program History

  • 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 1970s. 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.

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