Increasing Producer Adoption of Pasture as Part of a Whole Farm System

Final Report for ENE98-041

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $30,393.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Edward Harwood
Cornell University Cooperative Extension
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Project Information

Summary:

A 33-minute documentary type video has been produced describing the benefits of well-managed pasture in diversified livestock operations. One hundred copies of this video has been distributed to Natural Resource Conservationists, Pasture Advocates, consultants and Cooperative Extension agents around New York State and the Northeast. These videos are to be used for distribution to potential livestock grazers. Along with the video, multiple copies of a self-mailer are being sent to each person so that each time the video is borrowed, the viewer can mail back a postcard survey. Questions answered as a result of the survey return: Why did you choose to view the video? Did you like the video? After watching this video, how likely are you to pursue more information? How likely are you to adopt managed intensive grazing within the next 1 to 2 years?

In addition to the video, 300 copies of a 20-page pasture catalogue have been printed and will be distributed to those people who view the video and return the self-mailed post card. This catalogue lists all Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, NRCS, and SWCD phone numbers. Twenty nine comprehensive books and manuals, nine conferences and workshop proceedings, thirteen periodicals, publications and newsletters, twenty-five Internet sources, fourteen organizations, and six audio-video resources are listed as part of the catalogue. We also expect this catalogue to be added to our NWNY Team web site (http://www.cce.cornell.edu/regional/nw-ny-dairy-fieldcrops) within the next six months. We will also be updating the catalogue when new resources become available.

To produce the video we contacted over 10 different people for input to video questions and production. Seven farms are highlighted throughout the video. These farms include: a small organic dairy farm, both large and small traditional dairy farms, 200 head cow/calf beef operation and the Cornell beef and sheep research farm. In addition, Dr. Jerry Cherney, Cornell University, highlights current research on grass varieties and the compatibility of pasture and whole farm nutrient planning. Carl Crispell, agriculture consultant, presents results from the NYS Dairy Farm Business Summary for Intensive Grazing Dairy.

The original grant proposal was to produce a 20-minute video that would include producer testimonials, research information, and economic considerations of managed intensive grazing. Several edits and cuts were made to over 13 hrs of taping and the final product of 33 minutes was reviewed by a focus group prior to actual copying for distribution. Several edits were made and based on the comments of the focus group, and ability of budget, we determined that the 33-minute video would enhance the project objectives.

Project Objectives:

• Increase the awareness of dairy and livestock producers, through the education of USDA staff, soil and water conservation staff, and extension agents, to the value of wellmanaged pasture in a diversified livestock operation.

• Increase the number of dairy and livestock producers who adopt the use of pasture into a whole farm planning system.

• Create a professional video and resource packet to increase awareness of USDA staff, soil and water conservation staff, extension agents and dairy and livestock producers to the value of well managed pasture in diversified livestock operations.

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

Publications/Outreach

After mailing of the video to distributors, a regional press release will announce the availability of the video through the agency and people that have volunteered to be distributors. In addition, it is recommended that each distributor write an article or design an ad for promotion of the video through their local newsletters. We have already applied for a state and national communication award for cooperative extension agriculture agents, thus leading to potential national publicity.

The video has been distributed to all NRCS and SWCD, offices across New York. In addition, e mails notices have been sent to Cornell Cooperative Extension and other extension agents and USDA agencies across the Northeast. As the survey post cards are returned we will have a more complete list of actual viewers and distributors of the video.

Performance Target Outcomes

Outcomes

Key NRCS people have been contacted throughout the state, telling them of our project and getting additional names/addresses to send the video. Our intention is to get the video viewed by as many pasture educators and potential grazers as possible over the next couple of months. We want distributors of the video to know that our intent is to NOT have the video sit on the shelf. Each person who gets a video is expected to advertise the availability of the video and its rental. Each distributor has also been given numerous post card surveys to enclose with each video.

This project has been accomplished through multiple contacts with various agency and pasture groups. Within the first week of word of mouth publicity, we have received over 20 personal contacts about the video that have resulted in the video being viewed by over 100 people at various pasture conferences this spring; scheduling of future viewings by discussion groups, NRCS and CCE personnel; and actual rental of the video by potential grazers. In addition, contacts made through participation in the pasture conferences have allowed information on pasture to be shared between NRCS, CCE, private consultants and grassland specialists. Collaborations and planning for summer pasture tours and walks have already occurred.

Project Outcomes

Recommendations

It has been identified through personal communication with many agency people regarding the lack of understanding on the applicability of pasture for many different types of dairy and livestock operations. The availability of this video has allowed the project collaborators to share their own knowledge and understanding of pasture with others that could be potential distributors. There is a continual need for updated pasture nutrition and pasture production recommendations for high producing dairy and livestock herds.

Potential Contributions

Trainee Adoption and Direct Impact

Each distributor should be considered a “trainee” by the terms of the project. Each distributor has either been talked with personally, received a letter or e-mail, or heard about the video through various other sources. Each distributor has received training on distribution of the video and input of survey card to each video renter. In addition to training on distribution, each distributor can also use the video to strengthen their knowledge of Managed Intensive Grazing and get the catalogue of resources for increasing their own knowledge and “rental library”. Full impact of an increase in both distributor and video renter will not be known until after our first distributor survey sometime this summer.

Potential Benefits or Impacts

Through the collaborative work and editing of the video, numerous contacts have been made across the country. As future contacts are made, and new resources are collected, the pasture catalogue will be updated yearly and will be viewed as the primary resource catalogue on pasture in the country.

Collection of post card surveys will enable us to build a database of pasture contacts and follow up for future impact as to how many people viewed the video, what they thought of the video, and what they expect to do as a result of viewing the video. This database will also help to focus educational efforts to a specific self defined audience for extension programming in MIG. In addition, as stated in the project grant proposal, a telephone and mail in survey of distributors and users will be accomplished within the year to see if we reached our objectives.

Feedback from Farmers

Farmers who were in the video were impressed with the easiness of understanding and the practical application of the video. It was through their specific comments on the length of the video that we decided to keep the video at 33 minutes and not cut to only 20 minutes. They were intrigued throughout the whole time of viewing and did not consider the video to be “boring” or “lengthy.”

NRCS employees are excited about the video availability to use with potential grazers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.