Final report for SAR15-002
To continue the Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Board and meet on an annual or semiannual basis so that they may be able provide input toward state SARE activities.
To enhance the skills and abilities of agents and agriculture professionals to equip farmers with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary for successful sustainable farming enterprises.
The SARE Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) worked with producers on pasture poultry, soil health, southern pea production, watermelon production, sweet potato production, and leafy green production. UAPB is located in eastern Arkansas which is dominated by large (1000 acres) row crop (soybeans, wheat, rice, corn, grain sorghum, and cotton) farms. Most of the farms operated by socially disadvantaged farmers (SDFs) and limited resource farmers (LRFs) are much smaller (acreage) than the average farm. Therefore, UAPB has encouraged SDFs, LRFs, and other farmers with limited acres to consider diversifying their operations with alternative enterprises (vegetable crops, fruits) to increase their income. Consequently, education on sustainable vegetable production practices was provided for producers, including using cover crops and reduce tillage to build soil health.
In southeast Arkansas, the extension agent works with livestock producers. The agent met representatives from the Grass Root Cooperative in northwest Arkansas at the Southern SAWG Conference in January. The agent invited representatives from the Grass Root Cooperative to Eudora in southeastern Arkansas to provide an overview of their pasture poultry program to livestock producers in Eudora.
One of the tasks of the Small Farm Program is to help small farmers that include socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers increase their income by diversifying their operations with fruits and vegetables. However, fruit and vegetable information and workshops are very limited in eastern Arkansas. Therefore, UAPB extension associates and faculty attend vegetable and other sustainable agriculture workshops to obtain information to use in vegetable workshops that they sponsor, and in one-on-one consultations with socially disadvantaged and limited resource producers.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To help socially disadvantaged and limited resource farmers improve their land by providing education to farmers on soil heath and the benefits it brings to the soil.
Extension agents with scholarships from NRCS and others took farmers to the Southern Cover Crop Conference in Jonesboro, Arkansas to learn about no till, limited till, cover crops, and other soil building conservation practices. These farmers also visited with the NRCS State Agronomist about the benefits of cover crops and the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) that provides financial assistance in applying cover crops and minimum till along with other sustainable practices.
To provide producers with education, information, and business opportunities with pasture poultry, the UAPB southeast agents arranged for a series of meetings with representatives from the Grass Root Cooperative in Northwest Arkansas. Approximately three meetings were conducted in Eudora, Arkansas with about 30 individuals attending the last meeting which was scheduled for socially disadvantaged livestock producers in southeast Arkansas.
The UAPB extension agents, agriculture faculty, and mentor farmers attended several vegetable and fruit production meetings, both in and out of state, to obtain educational information on vegetable production.
The six farmers that attended the Southern Cover Crop Conference gained knowledge on different cover crops and the benefits they provided in building soils. As a result two farmers signed-up for cover crops under the EQIP Program and planted cover crops. One of the farmers planted a cover crop mixture of 5 species.
Approximately 30 livestock producers attended the pasture poultry production meeting in Eudora. These producers gained knowledge of pasture production, the economics of pasture poultry, and marketing opportunities for pasture poultry production in eastern Arkansas.
Extension associates attended several fruit and vegetable meetings and gained information and knowledge on vegetable production. As a result, three vegetable production meetings were conducted for producers in eastern and southwest Arkansas. Approximately 100 individuals attended these meeting.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
The SARE Program was promoted through the educational opportunities and the networking opportunities offered by attending the Southern Sustainable Agricultural working Group conference. Producers are informed about sustainable agriculture practices and how the practices can improve their operations and encouraged to go to Southern SWAG to get additional information and to meet individuals who are using sustainable agriculture practices.