South Dakota is a rural state with a population of about 860,000 people (US Census 2016). The unemployment rate in SD was 2.7% in June 2016, which is the lowest in the nation (SD Bureau of Finance and Management 2016). Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry with over $25 billion dollars in generated revenue contributing to 20% of state’s economy and employing 15% of the population in agriculture production and related fields in 2012 (South Dakota Department of Agriculture 2014). South Dakota’s beef industry is the main driver of the livestock economy, with 1.69 million beef cows in the state, it ranks 7th in the nation (USDA-NASS 2016). Pasture and rangeland account for half of the land use with the remaining used for crop production. The major crops are corn, soybeans, wheat, all hay, sunflower, oats, and sorghum (USDA-NASS 2016). Conventional agriculture tends to dominate the state with only a small minority of producers that are involved with alternative, sustainable, or organic agricultural practices. There are very few non-governmental agencies (NGOs) working on sustainable agriculture issues in the state.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) is the Land Grant institution with missions in research, teaching, and extension. SDSU Extension has seven regional hubs strategically located across the state where 46 field specialists with specific duties in generally one discipline reside (iGrow 2016). Extension’s core focus areas are: 4-H & youth, livestock, agronomy, healthy families, community development, and gardens. Extension mirrors the agricultural climate in South Dakota, however, local foods, community development and soil health are gaining traction. South Dakota SARE has been coordinated by Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Smart, a rangeland ecologist, in the Department of Natural Resources, since January 2015. Dr. Smart has spent considerable time rejuvenating the advisory board and increased activity to outreach professionals through travel scholarships and mini-grants.
Initiaitives for 2017-18 are:
- Soil health
- Livestock crop integration
- Local foods
- Building sustainable operations
What is sustainable agriculture? SARE defines sustainability using three key concepts: Profit over the long-term; Stewardship of our nation’s land, air, and water; and Quality of Life for farmers, ranchers, and their communities. This definition is similar to the concept of triple bottom-line economics: financial, environmental, and social. A business needs to be profitable, a good steward of its natural resources, and socially responsible. Moving toward sustainability should be seen as a continual process and not viewed dogmatically as “either you are or aren’t”.
The goal of the South Dakota PDP SARE program is to provide professional development opportunities for outreach personnel in state, federal, and non-governmental agencies. Travel scholarships are designed to provide opportunities for outreach personnel to gain new ideas, skills, and networking relationships that will enhance their work toward delivering sustainable agriculture programming. Usually individuals will apply for a travel scholarship to attend a professional conference, workshop, or meeting. Mini-grants are designed to provide opportunities to train the trainers. Mini-grants typically deliver training at conferences, workshops, or meetings to outreach personnel and can include end users, but that’s not its main audience.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on increasing soil carbon, efficiency of the water cycle, and use of cover crops. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on topics related to soil carbon, efficiency of the water cycle, and use of cover crops. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to the above topics.
Various opportunities will exist through SDSU Extension, SDSHC, SDGC, NRCS, and others to provide meetings, workshops, and schools on soil health, cover crops, no-till, efficient water cycle, and efficient nutrient cycle on croplands and grazinglands. We expect to support two to three soil health workshops which will occur in the winter of 2017 and 2018 and the SDSHC Soil Health School each fall. Participants will learn basic principles of; soil structure, microbiology, no-till and cover crop management. One hundred fifty participants are expected consisting of; SDSU Extension, NRCS personnel, NGO’s, private industry and farmers. SARE will continue to provide travel scholarships to assist individual educators to attend regional meetings on sustainable agriculture and on cover crops. Educators will use information gained at workshops to educate producers about sustainable agriculture.
Travel Scholarships: two travel scholarships were used by educators to attend the Soil Health Nexus meeting and the National Conference on Cover Crops & Soil Health meeting in Indianapolis, IN Dec. 6-8.
10 influential producers that serve on the SD Grassland Coalition and SD Soil Health Coalition boards attended the annual SDACD meeting Sep 17-18 with David Montgomery.
SD SARE sponsored Dr. David Montgomery to speak at the SDSU campus to over 400 students on the importance of soil health on Sep 18th. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtmvmjA_S-U
A mini-grant supported and NRCS soil health tour and workshop to tribal advisory board members.
Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on integrating the use of livestock and crop production. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on topics related to grazing fall cover crops, full season cover crops, and residues. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to integrating livestock and crop production.
Support a workshop and field day with intensive grazing at Southeast Research Farm in July or September. This workshop will include a pasture walk through the intensive grazing trials at SERF. One Hundred Fifty participants are expected consisting of; SDSU Extension, NGO’s, private industry and farmers. The audience will learn the basics of intensive grazing. We plan to provide funding for mini-grants and travel scholarships supporting sustainable agriculture. Extension personnel will utilize gained knowledge by sharing it with producers.
A mini-grant was used to support a forage field day in August to integrate livestock grazing and cropping at the Beresford Southeast Farm.
Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on local vegetable and fruit cooperatives, production techniques, marketing, and pest management. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on topics related to vegetable and fruit cooperatives, production techniques, marketing, and pest management. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to local food production
Support a local food production/marketing workshop, held in conjunction with the Sioux Falls Organic Conference in early December. Fifty participants are expected consisting of; SDSU Extension, NGO’s, private industry and farmers. The audience should better understand the principles of food production; general production, high tunnel management, marketing, food cooperatives and CSA’s. We also will support the South Dakota Local Foods Conference held in November each year. SARE will support travel scholarships and mini-grants concerning high tunnels, producer cooperation and general production practices. Educators will use information gained at workshops to educate producers.
Four travel scholarships were used to support outreach specialists attend meetings on horticulture, local foods, and organic production techniques at the SD Local Foods Conference, American Society for Horticulture Science annual meeting, and the Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society annual conference.
A mini-grant was used to sponsor the SD Local Foods Conference in Spearfish SD by the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association.
A mini-grant was used to help produce the 2017-2018 South Dakota Local Food Directory
Expected outcomes. Short term: extension staff will be provided training on how to better assist beginning farmers and ranchers on: general production, financial management, marketing, financial assistance and the establishment of a relationship with a farmer mentor. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension staff will provide training to producers on topics related to general production, financial management, marketing, financial assistance and the establishment of a relationship with a farmer mentor. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to beginning farmer and rancher programs.
Cooperate with Dakota Rural Action through support for the Farm Beginnings Course, a 10 month class that meets twice a month for people that want to learn about agriculture production. Participants will learn whole farm planning and critical farm management skills such as goal setting, business planning, creative financing, and innovative marketing skills. Participants also will see sustainable farming practices being used on real farms and have opportunities to engage in farmer mentorship experiences. Our support provides professional development for those involved in teaching the classes and those that participate. We also will support South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA) in building capacity/strategic planning at their annual meeting. Professional development will strengthen SDSPA staff in their mission to diversify agricultural production in South Dakota We will continue support travel scholarships and mini-grants concerning high tunnels, producer cooperation and general production practices. Educators will use information gained at workshops to educate producers.
A mini-grant was supported to teach community gardening to state wide specialists on South Dakota tribal reservations.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
The goal of the “Face of SARE” program in South Dakota is to increase visibility of SARE projects and opportunities for farmers and ranchers in the state, and to address their questions and needs regarding grant applications. The Face of SARE is promoted by Sandy Smart and Dave Ollila (co-coordinator) with specific duties of Face of SARE. Dave will attend various workshops and other producer gatherings, setting up a booth and promoting the SARE program. Dave plans to attend multiple soil health/cover crop workshops, NPSAS Winter Conference, livestock meetings, and Specialty Producers meetings. We will continue to sponsor events such as; Northern Plains Sustainable Ag Society’s conference in Aberdeen, the organic IPM school held at Beresford and other producer oriented educational programs held in South Dakota. In addition, we will take advantage of any Advisory Board member attending producer meetings to set up the Face of SARE display and “man” the both whenever possible.
We continue to offer information for travel scholarships and mini-grants through our SARE web page in order to increase the profile of this support to interested educators/extension personnel. We intend to continue to promote this among educators, and help support useful workshops which will increase our visibility among both educators and producers.