This professional development program will train a group of agricultural advisors from diverse disciplines, primarily Extension and NRCS personnel, on measures of soil health and other indicators of sustainable production in integrated crop-livestock systems. Teams of advisors will work together to learn about the case study process and put this knowledge to use. By working with successful producers who utilize integrated crop/livestock systems, including the grazing of cover crops, for management of soil health, advisors will increase their understanding of the decisions being made within complex, diverse agricultural operations. The sharing of this information at a workshop with project personnel and other advisors will lead to development of curriculum and programs for training and demonstration of maintenance and improvement of soil health and other components of sustainable production through integrated crop-livestock systems.
We propose to provide crop and livestock extension, NRCS and other land management and agricultural advisory personnel improved tools for assisting producers in improving and maintaining soil health through integrated crop/livestock systems. Specifically:
- To better understand how individuals successfully integrate crops and livestock onto their operations
- To evaluate the benefits of successful integration on soil health measures
- To share these ideas from differing regions within the state and to seek out commonalities
- To use the increased understanding to develop curriculum and programs for training and demonstration of maintenance and improvement of soil health through integrated crop-livestock systems
Case studies on producer’s operations that use crop-livestock integration system will be utilized to increase Ag professionals understanding of the benefits of crop-livestock integration production systems.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Provide participants with guidelines for collecting comparable information to increase understanding of crop-livestock integration systems.
Participants will learn techniques to measure aspects of sustainable crop-livestock
A train the trainer meeting was conducted on April 11 and 12, 2016 to sharing the expectation of the program with agricultural professional participants. The meeting started with the project objectives and expectations. Next, Josh Fergen, Sociology Graduate Student, explained the methodology of using Case Studies to collect information. Short 30-minute presentations of the type of information to collect from each of the various areas (soil, grass, livestock, crops and economics) of production were provided to the participants as well as the correct soil sampling procedures. Additionally, teams of participants had the opportunity to develop a plan how they would conduct the 4 case study visits over the next year. Teams are comprised of Extension Field Specialists, NRCS staff and agronomic consultants.
Six teams of individuals from SDSU Extension, NRCS and crop advisors were assigned to one of six teams.
All six teams have completed at least two visit to their assigned case study location.
Soil testing has been completed at five of the six locations.
Participants will share “what they learned about their case study” to increase the understanding of how successful crop-livestock integration systems works.
The 2-day workshop was conducted on January 10 and 11, 2018 for each agricultural advisor team to present their evaluation report from their case study visits as well as the entire agricultural professional discussing the similarity and differences between the case studies. The workshop started with each case study team presenting their evaluation report to the entire group. Next, Roger Gates facilitated the development of determining to similarities and differences between each of the six case studies. Next, the group of agricultural professional developed a list of action step that could be used to promote crop and livestock integration on other producers operations. Additionally, SDSU Extension and SD NRCS found several options to work together to develop educational materials for producers.
Six teams of individuals from SDSU Extension, NRCS and crop advisors presented their evaluation report for their case study.
Soil testing has been completed at all six locations. Based do their results some additional soil testing may be conducted.
Educational & Outreach Activities
This Professional Development Program is designed to provide agricultural advisors with a better understanding of how crop-livestock integration production systems works as well as the benefits from implementing this production system. Eighteen participants have gained knowledge from their assigned case studies (producers conducting crop-livestock production system) on why and how they (producers) are making management decisions to improve their production operation.
Drought conditions changes the immediate focus of individuals within Extension and NRCS, so completing the final case study visits could be delayed slightly.