Final report for NCWI17-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $110,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
State Coordinator:
Diane Mayerfeld
University of Wisconsin Madison
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Project Information

Abstract:

To be added

Project Objectives:

To be added

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand

Education

Educational approach:

Travel scholarships and mini-grants for agricultural educators provide the foundation for Wisconsin’s professional development program in sustainable agriculture.  We also work with our advisory committee members and other sustainable agriculture partners around the state to identify opportunities for advancing professional development in sustainable agriculture through presentations and other direct delivery methods.  

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Initiative 1: Cover Crops and Soil Health
Objective:

Through mini-grants, scholarships, and outreach increase knowledge among agricultural educators about cover crops management and managing for soil health.
Support continued programming on soil health and cover crops by educators, with more in-depth information on practices.

Description:

Farmer and educator interest in soil health and cover crops continues to be high.  However, successful cover crop establishment following corn and soybean crops remains a challenge.  Wisconsin agricultural educators are working with researchers and farmers to investigate the feasibility of different methods and times for planting cover crops before the cash crop is harvested.  

Activities related to this Initiative included

8 travel scholarships awarded in 2017:

  • 1 to the Soil Health Conference in February in Iowa
  • 3 to the National Soil & Water Conservation Conference in Madison in August
  • 2 to the Soil Health Nexus meeting in Indiana in December
  • 2 for a Wisconsin Soil Health field day training for agricultural educators

2 mini-grants awarded in 2017

  • 1 for focus groups with farmers and nutritionists on considerations for including cover crops in dairy rations
  • 1 for setting up a self-guided tour of cover crop and no till demonstration sites

 

3 travel scholarships awarded in 2018 to the Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference

Soil Health workshop at Wisconsin Association of Agricultural Educators conference

Outcomes and impacts:

4 of the 2017 scholarship recipients filled out a 6-month follow-up survey (the other 4 scholarships were given late in the year).  

  • All incorporated new information from the scholarship in regular programming
  • Educators also used the information to answer client questions, make new contacts, and in newsletters
  • Programming based on the scholarships reached 175 farmers, 24 university/Extension educators, 9 NGO educators, 11 agricultural consultants, 9 agency staff, and 4 elected officials

 

Outcomes from later scholarships in 2017 reported in 2018:

  • 3 used information to answer client questions
  • 3 incorporated new information from the scholarship in regular programming
  • Programming based on the scholarships reached 20 farmers, 2 university educators, 4 agricultural consultants, and 4 agency staff

 

Outcomes from 2018 scholarships:

  • 2 used information to answer client questions
  • 2 incorporated new information from the scholarship in regular programming
  • Programming based on the scholarships reached 150 farmers, 30 NGO educators, and 5 NRCS staff

18 Technical college instructors and high school agriculture teachers participated in the 2018 Soil Health workshop

Results from the mini-grant on cover crop utilization for dairy rations were shared with 30 educators at the Green Lands Blue Waters conference and are being used to guide further work on the issue.  Results will be shared at the 2019 Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference, and an Extension factsheet is under preparation.  

The mini-grant funded self-guided soil conservation & cover crops tour was introduced at the Manitowoc County Soil Health and Cover Crop Forum to an audience of 120 people.  

Extension educators who received SARE Plan of Work funds are also:

  • maintaining a Wisconsin Cover Crops website
  • coordinating a cover crops webinar series for Extension and agency staff
  • organizing a Wisconsin cover crops conference for 2018
Initiative 2: Agroforestry and Perennial Agriculture
Objective:

Through mini-grants, scholarships, and outreach increase knowledge among agricultural educators about incorporating perennial cover into agriculture, including agroforestry, pollinator habitat, grazing, etc.

Description:

Activities related to this initiative in 2017 included:

  • Two mini-grants related to perennial agriculture:  Building a Pollinator Community: Phase II   and   Publishing and disseminating a guide to establishment of production agroforestry systems
  • Co-hosted a silvopasture workshop and two pasture walks for educators and farmers 
  • Silvopasture presentations at Grazing Conference
  • Help organize Green Lands Blue Waters Conference in Wisconsin and draw new educators into this regional effort to maintain continuous living cover on the farmland in the upper Mississippi watershed. 
  • 9 scholarships (3 to the Grazing Conference and 6 to the Green Lands Blue Waters Conf)  

 

Activities related to this initiative in 2018 included:

  • Two mini-grants related to perennial agriculture:  Improving Pollinator Establishment by Promoting Best Management Practices  and  Sustainable Nitrogen Soil Fertility for Hops 
  • Panel on Status of Grazing in Wisconsin at the GrassWorks Conference (47 people – about half farmers & half educators)
  • 2-day silvopasture workshop (35 farmers, educators, and students)
  • 1-day tour of conventional dairies that graze heifers (18 educators)
  • Kernza & silvopasture field day (8 agency, 29 farmers, 3 Extension, 4 university, 2 ag business, 3 NGO, 9 students)
  • Silvopasture presentations at Northwest Graziers conference (70 attendees) and Perennial Gathering (30  attendees)
Outcomes and impacts:

Building a Pollinator Community mini-grant outputs and outcomes: 

  • Developed the North Central Wisconsin Pollinator Partnership, a 9-county network for pollinator conservation.
  • Conducted 4 pollinator outreach events. Approximately 60 agricultural educators attended a workshop. 50 Master Gardeners attended the pollinators tour. In post-event survey 88% of respondents said they plan to manage habitat for pollinators.
  • 3 high school teachers have added pollinator education to their curriculum 

Publishing and disseminating a guide to establishment of production agroforestry systems mini-grant:  

  • Presented the draft guide at numerous events reaching over 200 farmers and educators and incorporated feedback
  • Final version of the guide is now being printed 

Silvopasture workshop and pasture walks in 2017:

  • Reached 60 people (30 farmers, 15 educators, 15 other)
  • 66% definitely plan to use silvopasture information in their work / on their farm;  25% may use the information
  • Educators will use the information to answer client questions, develop farm plans,  in regular programming

Silvopasture track at Grazing Conference:

  • Reached 70+ farmers and educators
  • 66% definitely plan to use silvopasture information in their work / on their farm;  20% may use the information
  • Educators will use the information to answer client questions, develop farm plans,  in regular programming

Green Lands Blue Waters Conference:  

  • 178 attendees.  Estimate 49% agricultural professionals; 16% farmers; 21% researchers; 7% students; 12% other
  • 92% will use information and contacts from the conference in their work, including sharing information with farmers and agricultural educators, designing further research, educating students, and changing management on the farm

Green Lands Blue Waters scholarship outcomes

  • 4 educators used information to answer client questions, 3 educators developed new partners, 2 educators incorporated information from the conference in regular programming, and 3 educators used the information to develop farm plans
  • Programming based on the scholarships reached 107 farmers, 2 agricultural consultants, and 1 NGO staff

 

2018 outputs and outcomes

Improving Pollinator Establishment mini grant

  • Established two demonstration/research plots, one at an Extension office and one at an Ag. Research Station.  Ongoing plot management team includes university, Extension, and NRCS staff.  Companion crops, mowing, and herbicide use all reduced weed pressure.  
  • Presented at 2 pollinator workshops (total attendance 30)
  • Two field days planned for 2019

Sustainable Nitrogen Soil Fertility for Hops  mini grant

  • Information from the nitrogen trial is still being compiled and evaluated. 2018 research involved three Wisconsin hop farms. This will give us our third year of information and second year of replicated data. Complete information will be available early in 2019 and will be disseminated at the annual hops workshop.
Initiative 3: Extending Sustainable Agriculture Knowledge and Practice
Objective:

Increase educator knowledge of sustainable practices and approaches such as grazing, local food systems, organic agriculture, composting, working with underserved farmers, and responding to climate change.
Help educators provide information and programming on grazing, organic agriculture, local food systems and other sustainable agriculture topics

Description:

SARE needs to continue to support professional development and educator action for a wide range of sustainable agriculture practices and approaches that SARE helped initiate in Wisconsin, including grazing, organic agriculture, climate and energy, and local foods. In many cases Extension educators have taken on leadership in these areas, but continued support from SARE remains critical, especially in the current difficult budget environment.

Activities in 2017 include

    • Provided 22 SARE scholarships to professional development opportunities in sustainable agriculture (Local Food Summit, Organic Farming Conference, Women Food and Agriculture Network Conference, etc.), plus 18 scholarships to students to attend the Organic Farming Conference 
    • Awarded 2 SARE mini-grants — Access for Hmong and Latino Farmers at the Inaugural Organic Vegetable Production Conference  and  Economic Assessment of Local Food Systems in Sawyer County and LCO — and finished 2 mini-grants from 2016 — Field testing social media marketing messages and calculating return on investment to benefit direct market [CSA] farmers in Wisconsin  and  Wisconsin Hop Fertility Trial  
    • Delivered a workshop for high school agriculture and technical college instructors on climate change and agriculture  

 

Activities in 2018 include:

  • 16 scholarships:
    • 3 educator and 6 student scholarships to the MOSES Organic Farming Conference
    • 4 Extension educator and 1 student scholarship to the SARE Our Farms Our Future Conference
    • 1 technical college instructor scholarship to the Place-Based Food Systems conference
    • 1 agency staff scholarship to Sustainable Agronomy Conference
  • 3 mini-grants — Developing County UW-Extension Agent Small Ruminant Knowledge; Varroa destructor–Tolerant Honey Bee Drone Breeding Project; and Demonstrating the use of soil moisture probes for sustainable irrigation management on commercial vegetable farms in Wisconsin 
Outcomes and impacts:

2017 Scholarship outcomes (based on 6-month survey of 15 educators; other scholarships were for events late in the fall):

  • 87% incorporated what they learned into regular programming
  • 73% developed new partners for their work
  • Educators also used the information to develop new programming, answer client questions, develop a food systems curriculum, and for one-on-one consultations
  • Information gained from the scholarships was passed on to 57 Extension and University educators, 144 farmers, 26 NGO staff and consultants, 17 agency staff, and 38 others, including food security educators

Mini-grant outcomes Access for Hmong and Latino Farmers at the Inaugural Organic Vegetable Production Conference

  • SARE funds supported outreach and translation efforts and provided scholarships for 20 Hmong and 6 Latino farmers to attend the Organic Vegetable Production Conference. The experience of reaching out to these groups of farmers will help inform future efforts to include more diverse farmers in programming.

Mini-grant outcomes Field testing social media marketing messages and calculating return on investment to benefit direct market [CSA] farmers in Wisconsin  

  • Four social media messages were tested for 4 CSA farms to help provide marketing guidance.   Findings have been shared at the Wisconsin CSA conference and disseminated through the Community Food Systems Team.  A bulletin is available at https://fyi.uwex.edu/localfoodmarketing/social-media-direct-market/  An article will also be submitted to Journal of Extension.  

Mini-grant outcomes Wisconsin Hop Fertility Trial 

  • 5 County agriculture agents and 3 state specialists collected data on N, P, and K needs of hops in Wisconsin. Results indicate that current P and K recommendations are accurate but N recommendations may be a little high

    Results were shared with 52 educators and farmers at a statewide hops workshop and are available at https://counties.uwex.edu/buffalo/files/2011/01/Hop-Fertility-2017-seminar-v4.pdf  

  • Further research is planned to fine-tune N recommendations

Mini-grant on Economic Assessment of Local Food Systems in Sawyer County and LCO will be completed in fall 2018.  (Project director is on maternity leave & will return to work in February 2019)

14 teachers attended the workshop on climate change and agriculture.  12 said they would definitely use the information in their classes, and 2 said maybe they would use the information.  

Late 2017 scholarship outcomes

  • 2 educators used the information to answer client questions,
  • 3 educators incorporated what they learned into regular programming
  • 3 educators developed new partners for their work
  •  1 educator used it to develop new programming, 1 educator wrote newsletter articles, 1 educator applied the information to farm plans, and 1 educator hosted potlucks for women in agribusiness
  • Information gained from the scholarships was passed on to 13 Extension and University educators, 132 farmers, 8 consultants, 2 NRCS staff, and 15 others.

 

2018 Scholarship outcomes 

  • 4 educators incorporated what they learned into regular programming
  • 3 educators developed new partners for their work
  • 5 educators used the information to answer client questions, and 3 educators used it to develop new programming and for newsletter articles
  • Information gained from the scholarships was passed on to 27 Extension and University educators, 75 farmers, 14 NGO staff and consultants, 5 agency staff, and 64 others.

2018 Mini-grant outcomes – 

  • Varroa destructor–Tolerant Honey Bee Drone Breeding Project 1 NGO staff, 2 Extension educators, and 2 farmer educators cooperated on setting up this project to try to breed mite resistant and winter hardy populations of honeybees.  Information about the project was presented to 50 beekeepers at a field day and a beekeepers’ association meeting.  
  • Developing County UW-Extension Agent Small Ruminant Knowledge  3 Extension educators partnered with an agricultural research station to develop and host this workshop.  24 educators attended, including staff from UW-Extension; Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Land & Water Conservation; and NRCS.  The organizers took advantage of having out-of-state speakers and also offered a parallel workshop that was attended by about 20 farmers.  At least four educators then hosted sheep and goat related meetings, reaching an additional 123 farmers, youth, and small ruminant enthusiasts (not all attendees filled out the follow-up survey).  Educators also were able to better answer farmer questions.  
  • Demonstrating the use of soil moisture probes for sustainable irrigation management on commercial vegetable farms in Wisconsin  The project fund that Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) sensors, which measure volumetric water content, are the most reliable to use in the potato and green bean commercial fields.  The project coordinator will write an extension bulletin and articles for trade journals about the recommendations resulting from this project.  She will also present the recommendations at the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association winter conference, the Wisconsin Fresh Market Vegetable Growers Association winter meeting, and the Wisconsin Agribusiness Classic in early 2019.  

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
11 Minigrants
2 On-farm demonstrations
1 Tours
59 Travel Scholarships
8 Webinars / talks / presentations
5 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

32 Extension
16 NRCS
30 Researchers
30 Nonprofit
34 Agency
5 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
200 Farmers/ranchers
34 Others

Learning Outcomes

250 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
106 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

150 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
550 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Success stories:

Quotes from 2 educators who received travel scholarships:

With the ongoing need for environmentally and economically sustainable farming practices this conference gave me the opportunity to share my experiences and learn from others.   I am currently supporting 2 producer-led watershed protection groups in my county and overlapping into neighboring counties. They have different focuses, one being phosphorous runoff and the other nitrates in the groundwater. In attending this conference, I was able to add to my knowledge in the areas of soil health, cover crops, no-till, and other conservation practices that will help me better address the needs of these watershed groups and other farmers. Thank you for this opportunity. 

I have to say this is by far the best and most useful training that I have been to while employed at UWEX.   Being emerged (sic) in the subject for three days was overwhelming, intoxicating, and inspiring at the same time.   I slept and breathed apples. While it would have been nice to turn my mind off for a bit, it just wasn’t possible.   This was a training that I could not stop talking about for weeks. The knowledge learned was indispensable in helping clients. I still refer to the resources from the training on a regular basis. The training has allowed me to better educate my Master Gardener Volunteers (through trainings and one on one) and the average consumer. In addition, it has given me the confidence to reach out to small growers hoping to build these relationships over time. 

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The State Coordinator 

  • Meets with new ANR Extension agents as part of their campus orientation
  • Helps publicize calls for proposals for SARE grants in the state
  • Presents workshops on applying for SARE Farmer-Rancher grants in coordination with the USDA VAPG Program, the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute
  • Maintains the UW Extension Sustainable Agriculture webpage
  • Brings the SARE display to conferences
  • Works with Extension teams, including the Community Food Systems Team.

In addition, the State Coordinator and Wisconsin SARE Task Force members represent SARE in a wide variety of sustainable agriculture efforts and meetings and bring the SARE display to appropriate conferences and events.

275 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
45 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
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.