High quality and adequate supplies of water are essential to sustainable agriculture producers for enterprise profitability, and for the health of their families, workers and supporting ecosystems. From arid areas of the Southern region where impaired water quality and reduced water availability have been long recognized as significant challenges and obstacles to successful sustainable agriculture to the more humid Southeastern areas, farmers and rancher (n=153) responding to a regional survey (Mahler et al. 2013) indicated that they need to know more about a wide variety of water management topics.
Topics of strongest interest to farmers were irrigation management, private well protection, protecting drinking water supplies, nutrient and pest management, septic system management, fish and wildlife water needs and restoring fish and aquatic habitat, watershed management, and forest management related to water issues.
A regional water conference with the goal to improve producer adoption of sustainable water management practices will be developed. Training and instruction addressing topics identified by surveyed producers will be provided by 1) Extension and research faculty supported through this proposal request, as well as by additional faculty and agency representatives registering for the conference and participating through support independent of this request, and 2) at least one producer from each of all states cooperating on this proposal providing a presentation, overview, or serving on a discussion panel to describe their experience with sustainable water management practices or impediments to their implementation of more sustainable agricultural practices. The organizing committee for the conference will be comprised of producers representing participating states as described in this proposal and other project co-investigators listed in this proposal.
Program impacts and outcomes will include 1) increased knowledge regarding practices supporting more sustainable water management, 2) increased knowledge, with special focus on limited-resource farmers and ranchers, regarding state and Federal sustainable agricultural programs designed to overcome barriers to implementation of sustainable water management practices, 3) improved attitudes and intentions to adopt sustainable water management practices, and 4) increased adoption of sustainable water management practices by producers attending the conference.
Survey responses received from farmers across nine SSARE states indicated strong interest in learning more sustainable practices for a wide variety of water management topics and practices affecting water/environmental quality. Objectives of the conference include:
- Increasing the knowledge regarding practices supporting more sustainable water management,
- Increasing the knowledge, with special focus on limited-resource farmers and ranchers, regarding state and Federal sustainable agricultural programs designed to overcome barriers to implementation of sustainable water management practices,
- Improving the attitudes and intentions to adopt sustainable water management practices, and
- Increasing the adoption of sustainable water management practices by producers attending the conference.
The Southern Region Water Resource conference is being developed and will provide a unique opportunity for principal focus on water issues relevant to sustainable agriculture, unlike regional conferences such as offered by the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group which aim to and successfully address a large number and broad range of sustainable agricultural topics. Also unlike other conferences which focus on cutting-edge research and technology often in early stages of development and experimentation, the regional water conference will feature speakers describing research and techniques with direct and current application to sustainable agricultural enterprises and will encourage presentations with easily understandable communication styles and minimal use of complicated charts and statistical tests unfamiliar to most producers.
The conference is scheduled for July 23-25 in College Station, TX at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. The conference website is https://agrilife.org/southern-region-water-conference/. A call for abstracts has been issued and will close April 5, 2019. Early bird registration will close May 15, 2019. A press release developed by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, an announcement regarding the conference from SSARE and two conference flyers are attached.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Actual activities and participation will be reported pending the conference July 23-25, 2019.
Learning outcomes will be reported pending the conference July 23-25, 2019.
Project outcomes will be reported pending the conference July 23-25, 2019.