2019 Model State Program- University of Florida

Progress report for SFL19-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $11,102.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
State Coordinator:
Dr. Marilyn Swisher
University of Florida
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Project Information

Abstract:

Florida activities for 2019-2020 will build upon the basic framework for the model state program. Planned activities include integrating results of SARE funded research and Extension activities, and other relevant research, and using this information as resources for educational programs. We also plan to continue to strengthen our focus on targeted training for state and county Extension faculty, representatives of non-profit organizations, representatives of state and federal government agencies, and farmer representatives. To fulfill the priorities and objectives of our program, our training funds will be used to address programs in three subject matter areas:

(1) new and emerging solutions for Florida agricultural production,

(2) advancing Extension capacity in sustainable agriculture, and

(3) entrepreneurial innovation in sustainable agriculture.

Project Objectives:
  1. Maintain existing and establish new collaborative Extension trainings and programs with faculty members and county agents at University of Florida and Florida A&M University whose work addresses sustainability in production agriculture.
  2. Extend collaboration with organizations that are active in the post-production components of food systems, particularly non-profit, state, and governmental organizations whose work fosters development of food and agriculture businesses.
  3. Support the development of Extension programs in food systems, including Regional Specialized Agents whose work includes both on-farm production and post-farm gate aspects of food system development.
  4. Expand participation of minority, women, and limited resource farmers and professionals in SARE activities and programs, ensuring that these groups are well represented in the full range of SARE-funded professional development opportunities.

SARE Expected Outcomes:

  1. County faculty members will participate in regional and national training programs in sustainable agriculture and will apply the lessons learned in their own programs.
  2. At least two of the statewide Extension priority teams will include information and resources about sustainable agriculture and SARE in their professional development training programs and Extension programming.
  3. Extension agents and farmers will identify opportunities, such as SARE-funded Research & Education, Professional Development, and On-Farm Research projects, for the development of alternative crops and enterprises and will play key roles in outreach and research projects that focus on alternative crops and enterprises.
  4. Regional and local county agents will develop new collaborations with organizations, agencies, and groups working in sustainable agriculture, including non-profit and for-profit organizations involved in post-farm gate food processing, marketing and distribution, and policy development.
  5. State, regional, and county Extension faculty members and agents will make increased use of resources to support programming in sustainable agriculture, including fiscal resources such as Southern SARE grants.
Introduction:

The 2019-20 Florida SARE programming built upon our previous years’ work in two ways.

(1) We continued focusing on outreach and training that enhances the environmental and economic benefits of production agriculture.

(2) We continued hosting trainings that emphasize local and regional food systems to address issues and policies that impact our food system.

The new cycle differed in several ways. Due to our extensive outreach work over the years to increase consciousness of sustainable agriculture programming and resources, sustainable agriculture is now prominent in many Florida Extension programs.  The training needs of state and county faculty have changed and they are making additional demands on our SARE program.

(1) They need continued training to address ethics in human subjects research as they integrate biological and social/educational research.

(2) They want more training in how to develop research and outreach proposals and the teams to implement their projects and we will expand this training to include identification of potential funding sources (public and private).

(3) They want more access to cutting edge research in sustainable ag in order to reduce the time between research and adoption.

(4) We will implement a training program that integrates grower and technical advisor input into ecological and biological research to enhance research outcomes. We will further develop our ability to facilitate helping state and county faculty collaborate with local farmers and service providers to write winning grant proposals, strengthen the outreach and evaluation components of their project, and incorporate more on-farm trials into their plan of work. 

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand

Education

Educational approach:

Our educational approach for our “sustainable solutions for Florida agricultural production” initiative has two components:

  1. To provide an in-service training where the target audience consists of Extension agents, producers’ associations, non-profit, state, and local organizations, and private sector technical advisers.
  2. To facilitate participation by Extension agents, growers and industry representatives, and representatives of non-profit, state, and local organizations in on-farm and on-station research, grower assessments of demonstration and research trials including annual events at any of Florida Research & Extension Centers, field days on-farm and on-station, and workshops

Our educational approach for our “advancing Extension capacity in sustainable agriculture” initiative has three components:

  1. To conduct professional development trainings focusing on the needs of Extension professionals in the state.
  2. To allow county and state faculty to develop their own training objectives and propose venues that will provide the training they need.
  3. To advertise training opportunities available within the Southern SARE region and nationally that may be of interest to Florida faculty.

Our educational approach for our “entrepreneurial innovation in sustainable agriculture” initiative has one component:

  1. To offer an in-service training about successful grant writing to enhance Extension programming.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Sustainable Solutions for Florida Agricultural Production:
Objective:

Agronomic and horticultural production systems increasingly face emerging pest threats, competition with other uses for scarce resources, and increasing international competition in traditionally high-value crops. The rapidity with which new challenges emerge requires that service providers be knowledgeable not only of technologies and strategies that are fully tested and “ready for use,” but also of the most promising solutions under development. Equally important, we need to shorten the distance between research and application, an imperative long recognized by SARE.

Description:

Future of Sustainable Agriculture in Florida Webinar Series

The target audience for this webinar series consists of county Extension faculty and other local service providers. The purpose is to expose participants to research conducted in Florida focusing on new projects and technologies supporting sustainable agriculture. By exploring emerging research from a wide variety of disciplines related to sustainable agriculture, participants may collaborate and provide relevant and timely sustainable agricultural programming to their clients. This training is offered as a webinar series to increase participation.  In 2019-20, the webinar series will focus on high tunnel vegetable crop production in Florida. This will help increase the use of high tunnels in Florida and enhance the economic revenue of participating Florida farmers.  After completing this training, participants will be able to advise farmer clientele on the latest research taking place in the state addressing high tunnel vegetable production in Florida.

 

Improving Research Outcomes through Participatory Research Assessments

The target audience for this training consists of state and county faculty with Extension and research appointments and staff working with these faculty members. The pace of change in food and agriculture has increased greatly due to increased international trade, expanding regulatory requirements, and a diverse consumer population with distinctive and in many cases non-traditional preferences with regard to food products and tangible and non-tangible attributes. These changes make it more important than ever to ensure that agricultural research can respond quickly to producer needs. We have developed a technique for incorporating grower and technical advisor (especially Extension) input into the design and implementation of agricultural research. The approach improves the quality of research because the key concerns of end-users of the research are involved in directing the research away from solutions that will not be acceptable to farmers, will direct research toward the most critical constraints and needs of producers, and will fully incorporate the expertise and experience of growers and their advisors to develop treatments and identify the kind of data needed by growers for their decision-making purposes. We have now conducted repeated assessments on three research projects at the University of Florida with outstanding results that have contributed some of the most innovative treatments in research and helped us avoid commitment of time and effort to approaches that will ultimately fail the test of adoption. The objective of this IST is to provide participants with a systematic, tested approach to incorporating grower input into the earliest stages of the research process, including how to conduct field research assessments (blind evaluation of treatments, for example), and how to analyze the results that are obtained. Training objectives:

  1. Develop a protocol for a research assessment.
  2. Complete the IRB protocol that will ensure that the assessment meets federal requirements for informed consent, including a template that covers the key universally required components in the protocol.
  3. Develop the appropriate data collection instruments and procedures for the assessment.
  4. Conduct the procedures involved which include an individual assessment by each participant and a facilitated group discussion.
  5. Analyze the results of the assessment.

 

Extension and Outreach of Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation in the Southeast

The Florida SARE program is partnered with USDA-ARS to provide strong Extension programming and evaluate the barriers and opportunities for expanding research and use of anaerobic soil disinfestation in Florida agriculture. Once used extensively as a pesticide, methyl bromide is now banned for use as a soil fumigant. There has been considerable research into broad-spectrum chemical alternatives in the U.S., but the results show inconsistent pest control. In conjunction with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), researchers at the University of Florida are investigating a new option: anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD). This is a biointensive method of integrated pest management that involves the pre-plant soil incorporation of a labile carbon source and adequate water to saturate the soil. We are responsible for coordinating field research assessments with service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of anaerobic soil disinfestation and possible barriers to adoption. The technology of anaerobic soil disinfestation is extended through field days, research assessments, conferences, and educational videos.

 

Southern Region Cover Crops Council

We are a member of Strategy Team 4.  The objective of Strategy Team 4 is to foster basic, applied and participatory cover crop research in the Southern Region, and establish a multi-state research project by Dec. 2019.

 

Cover Crop Diversity through Evaluation and Increase from Breeder Stocks and Germplasm Repositories

This Southern SARE funded grant is a collaboration among three faculty members at the University of Florida working to develop cover crops for use during the summer in the Southeastern region, specifically Florida.  The existing cover crops primarily used throughout the US were bred for cool-season use and do not work in Florida during the summer season.  We primarily use cover crops during the summer season because our production season typically occurs from August to May.  Our role on the project includes coordinating field research assessments with service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of our research and possible barriers to adoption.  We are also responsible for hosting field days, presenting at conferences, and developing a virtual research assessment.

 

Sustainable Organic Strawberry (SOS) Cropping Systems For The Southeast

This OREI-NIFA funded project seeks to promote the expansion of organic strawberry production in the Southeast by working to develop organic strawberry cropping systems that are more environmentally and economically sustainable and resilient to weed, pest, and disease pressure. The project is a collaborative effort of the University and Florida, North Carolina A&T State University, Florida A&M University and Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. (FOG). The project has three major components: biological research, consumer and economic research, and evaluation and outreach. The main experiment examines the effects of three cover crop treatments and a weedy control on soil health, nematode suppression, arthropod pests, beneficials, and the performance of four strawberry cultivars in open-field production. Four supporting or satellite experiments examine specific aspects of nutrient management incorporating nitrogen contribution from cover crops and supplemental fertilization, efficacy of OMRI-approved materials for management of spotted wing drosophila (SWD) and twospotted spider mite (TSSM), and spot treatment with predatory mites for TSSM, and performance of cultivars in high and low tunnels for cold protection outside sub-tropical Florida. The evaluation and extension components are integrated. We use an Industrial Liaison Panel and research assessments with service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of our research and possible barriers to adoption. Extension activities include field days, trainings, workshops, and conference presentations.

 

The Greening of Strawberry Plasticulture

Research and extension activities in this FDACS funded project propose to address the unsustainable practice of using an extended period of overhead irrigation to limit heat stress during the establishment of bare-root strawberry transplants on black plastic mulch. We anticipate that the combination of low-volume sprinklers and living mulch in row middles will increase the sustainability of strawberry production by decreasing water use during bare-root transplant establishment, promoting infiltration at the expense of runoff, increasing the diversity of the cropping system, and improving cropping system resilience to weeds and to the sting nematode (Belonolaimus longicaudatus). On-farm and on-station field experiments have been conducted to compare (1) conventional high-volume sprinkler irrigation, (2) low-volume sprinkler irrigation, (3) high-volume sprinkler irrigation + living mulch, and (4) low-volume sprinkler irrigation + living mulch. During strawberry establishment, irrigation infiltration and runoff was assessed. Data was collected on strawberry stand establishment, growth, and fruit yield. Living mulch suppression of weeds and sting nematodes was also assessed.  Our role on the project includes presenting at conferences and developing a virtual research assessment for service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of our field research and identify possible barriers to adoption.

 

Adapting and Expanding High Tunnel Organic Vegetable Production for the Southeast

The long-term goal of this OREI-NIFA funded project is to develop sustainable high tunnel systems to promote the growth and expansion of organic vegetable production in the Southeast. The project is a collaborative effort of the University and Florida, Florida A&M University, USDA-ARS, University of Georgia, Georgia Organics, and Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc. (FOG). This integrated project will systematically address the major challenges and key issues with organic high tunnel production and management identified through an initial planning project. By building a strong partnership with organic producers and other stakeholders, this project will target long-term environmental and economic sustainability. The outreach component is focused on the following objectives: (1) An expanded network of farmers, farmer organizations and stakeholders that can share and access information about high tunnel organic vegetable production; (2) continuing farmer and stakeholder participation in research and extension about high tunnel organic vegetable production; (3) increased understanding of farmer and stakeholder decision making; and (4) adoption of the management options generated by this research. Our role on the project includes coordinating field research assessments with service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of our research and possible barriers to adoption.  We are also responsible for coordinating the advisory council activities, hosting field days, conducting interviews with the farmers engaging in our on-farm research, presenting at conferences, and developing a virtual research assessment.

 

Graduate Student Grant Writing Workshops

2020GradStudentGrantWritingWorkshopFlyer

This two part hands-on workshop was open to any University of Florida graduate student interested in improving their grant proposal writing skills. Dr. Mickie Swisher discussed the keys to writing a successful grant proposal. Students had the opportunity to work on their own proposals at the workshop, as well. Each session of the workshop covered different aspects of proposal writing – from literature reviews to budgeting, so students needed to attend both sessions, if possible. Students from any department were encouraged to attend.  At the end of the training, the participants were able to: (1) Explain why proposals are rejected; (2) Identify the key elements of a call for proposal; (3) Craft their own proposal.

 

Enhancing the Sustainability of US Cropping Systems through Cover Crops and an Innovative Information and Technology Network

Transformative changes are needed to address agriculture’s grand challenge of increasing food
production while maintaining environmental integrity. Changes must mitigate: agricultures high energy demand; impending water scarcity and herbicide-resistant weeds; consequences of climate change (more frequent flooding, droughts, and extreme heat); and decline in soil health, critical for improving soil and water quality. This proposal will address these unprecedented threats by providing the infrastructure necessary to support and accelerate cover crop (CC) use nationwide, thereby meeting NIFA program goals of 1) increasing total factor productivity, 2) improving water and nitrogen use efficiency, and 3) reducing losses due to biotic and abiotic stresses. An integrated transdisciplinary approach of research (54%), extension (30%), and education (16%) components will address our objectives. A nationwide team of dedicated research, extension and NGO personnel from 28 institutions will establish on-station and on-farm research networks, novel teaching curriculum, and extensive social-science based outreach. Our overall goal is to increase crop productivity, conserve natural resources, and reduce our agro-ecological footprint through increased and improved use of CCs. Our role on the project includes coordinating field research assessments with service providers and growers to evaluate the potential usefulness of the research and possible barriers to adoption.  We are also responsible for coordinating the Farmer Think Tank Panel activities and presenting at conferences.

Outcomes and impacts:

Future of Sustainable Agriculture in Florida Webinar Series

Our first webinar was delayed due to COVID-19 limitations.  We are finalizing our webinar series and will launch the series in 2021.  Topics will include: cover crops, high tunnels, low tunnels, soil health, plant breeding/seed saving/regional seed production, pests and diseases, alternative crops.  We will assess the participants’ change of knowledge with pre and post test evaluations.

 

Improving Research Outcomes through Participatory Research Assessments

This training was delayed due to COVID-19 limitations.  We presented our first virtual research assessment training at the 2021 Northeast Cover Crops Council Conference.  This served as a pilot virtual training to prepare for our Florida SARE training scheduled for 2021.

 

Extension and Outreach of Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation in the Southeast

In 2019, we conducted two farmer field assessments at the on-farm trials in Hawthorne, FL and Bushnell, FL, and we completed collaborator assessments with the farmers participating in the on-farm trials. We presented posters about our work at the 2019 Professional Agriculture Workers’ Conference and at the 2020 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference.

 

Southern Region Cover Crops Council

In collaboration with Strategy Team 4 we secured a SAS CAP grant that will support cover crops research in Florida. See “Enhancing the Sustainability of US Cropping Systems through Cover Crops and an Innovative Information and Technology Network.”

 

Cover Crop Diversity through Evaluation and Increase from Breeder Stocks and Germplasm Repositories

In 2019, we launched the virtual field day (VFD) and 25 people have participated to date.  We developed a VFD assessment for Dr. Chase to use at her workshop at the 2020 SSAWG Conference.  We presented a poster about our research at the 2020 SSAWG Conference.  We will host an IST webinar about the project in 2021.

 

Sustainable Organic Strawberry (SOS) Cropping Systems For The Southeast

In 2019, we hosted a conference workshop IST at the National Strawberry Symposium, two field day workshops, two independent research assessments with growers and service providers, and completed short videos to post on our project website. In 2020, we held two independent research assessments with growers and service providers, one field day on the strawberry seed bug, and presented at two conferences.

 

The Greening of Strawberry Plasticulture

We presented a poster about our work at the 2019 Professional Agriculture Workers’ Conference. 

 

Adapting and Expanding High Tunnel Organic Vegetable Production for the Southeast

In 2019, we conducted two on-station field research assessments.  The first was on pak choi and the second assessment was on tomato.

 

Graduate Student Grant Writing Workshops

Pre and post-tests were completed in 2020 by graduate students taking our grant writing workshops. Students were asked to respond to 10 true/false items on both the pre and post-test. Pre and post-test scores were then compared to determine if the graduate students had a change in grant writing knowledge. Twenty-four graduate students responded to the pretest and 17 graduate students responded to the posttest. In total, 17 graduate students responded to both the pretest and posttest. Their responses were used to assess changes in grant writing knowledge. Only counting the scores of the 17 who answered both pre and posttests, the average pretest score was 68%, and the average posttest score was 78%.

 

Enhancing the Sustainability of US Cropping Systems through Cover Crops and an Innovative Information and Technology Network

Our project activities will begin in 2020/2021.  We are currently attending monthly meetings with the Social Science Team and will begin monthly team meetings with the Florida team in 2020.

Advancing Extension Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture
Objective:

This initiative provides individualized training in specialized topics in sustainable agriculture. County and state faculty can participate in training relevant to their state and county programs that may not be a focus or an emphasis in the other Florida SARE initiatives. We allow county and state faculty to develop their own training objectives and propose venues that will provide the training they need. We also advertise training opportunities that may be of interest to Florida faculty.

Description:

How to Source Extramural Funding to Sustain Your Extension Program

The target audience for this training is county Extension faculty. County Extension faculty are under increasing demand to find extramural funding for their Extension programs in Florida. Yet, most are unaware of many services provided by UF Office of Research that apply to Extension, nor do many know how to search other public data bases that identify likely sources of funding for their programs, such as the national database of foundations.  This training gives participants an opportunity to develop a strategic approach to seeking funding for new and existing Extension programming for sustainable agriculture and sustainable community food systems, drawing on both public and private sources. Training objectives:

  1. Work with appropriate on-campus resources to help them identify potential funding sources for their programs.
  2. Enroll in and use the grants.gov and foundation.org systems for identifying potential donors.
  3. Identify the key components in a RFA.
  4. Read and understand the key components in the RFA that determine eligibility and guide the applicant toward the most promising venues for funding.

Advanced Individualized Training

The target audience consists of county Extension faculty who are members of a Florida Extension Professional Association. Scholarships are available to support travel to a professional development program in which the faculty person will receive training in topics relevant to sustainable agriculture. Program objectives:

  1. Increase participation in trainings related to sustainable agriculture that are associated with the SSARE Program.
  2. Increase participation in relevant national and regional trainings offered by other programs and organizations.
  3. Enhance the ability of the participant to develop and deliver local extension programming relevant to the goals of the Florida SARE program.
  4. Expand the current Extension responsibilities of the participant to include programming related to sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Grant Proposal Mentoring

We reach out to faculty members in the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, especially those with significant Extension responsibilities, to offer assistance in pre-proposal research and proposal development on topics related to sustainable agriculture.  These are one-on-one or small group mentoring sessions.

Outcomes and impacts:

How to Source Extramural Funding to Sustain Your Extension Program

This training was delayed due to COVID-19 limitations.  We will host this training in 2021.  We will assess the participants’ change of knowledge with pre and post test evaluations.

 

Advanced Individualized Training

We sponsored one travel scholarship for an Extension professional to attend the 2019 Professional Ag Workers’ Conference in Tuskegee, AL.  We sponsored two travel scholarships for Extension professionals to attend the 2019 Community Food Systems Conference in Savannah, GA.  We sponsored four travel scholarships for Extension professionals to attend the 2020 SSAWG Conference in Little Rock, AR.  We sponsored four travel scholarships for Extension professionals to attend the 2020 National Good Food Network Conference in New Orleans, LA.  Upon completion of the trip, scholarship recipients were required to send a report to us about the conference, what they learned, and how they are currently using or plan to use what they learned in their work.

 

Grant Proposal Mentoring

We began mentoring Dr. Davie Kadyampakeni at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center and collaborated on a water needs assessment for the Southern region.  We will collaborate to write a SSARE grant proposal to form a water council for the Southern region, similar to the Southern Cover Crops Council formed in 2017.  We are also working with Dr. Kim Wiley in the UF/IFAS Family, Youth and Community Science Department on a SSARE PDP Grant.  We will submit in 2020.

Entrepreneurial Innovation in Sustainable Agriculture
Objective:

This initiative focuses on advancing Extension that provides support for nontraditional agricultural businesses and promotes sustainable food systems to address social and economic community issues. Healthy growing agricultural and natural resource based businesses can contribute to local development and economic vitality if barriers to the establishment and growth of businesses are addressed. We will facilitate workshops, strategic planning, and joint programmatic development for Extension and community partners.

Description:

Successful Grant Writing for Extension Programming

The target audience for this training consists of county Extension faculty, service providers, community-based organizations, and producer organizations.  The funding opportunities for community-based and producer organizations provide important resources to foster community and farm development. Successful proposal development is a learned skill. While the specific requirements for each proposal will vary depending on the goals of the donor, objectives, and proposal requirements, there are commonalities to most proposals. The objective of this program is to provide participants with an understanding of key factors that donors commonly use to evaluate proposals and how to respond to these factors.  Training objectives:

  1. Write a problem statement that is responsive to the priorities of the donor.
  2. Develop goals, objectives, and outcomes to address the problem statement.
  3. Develop and describe objective-based activities.
  4. Construct an appropriate evaluation strategy.
  5. Develop an objective-based budget.
Outcomes and impacts:

Successful Grant Writing for Extension Programming

This training was delayed due to COVID-19 limitations.  We have developed a virtual training and will host multiple trainings in 2021 and 2022.  We will assess the participants’ change of knowledge with pre and post test evaluations.

Educational & Outreach Activities

88 Consultations
3 Minigrants
5 On-farm demonstrations
3 Online trainings
13 Published press articles, newsletters
13 Study circle/focus groups
11 Travel Scholarships
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
8 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

169 Extension
5 NRCS
89 Researchers
41 Nonprofit
17 Agency
32 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
216 Farmers/ranchers
108 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

10 New working collaborations
73 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
Additional Outcomes:

We held our 2020 Florida SARE Advisory Council meeting on 1/29/2020.  Our next scheduled meeting is 5/17/2021.  Training activities are limited due to COVID-19 restrictions for in-person events.  Virtual trainings are being developed where possible and in-person events will resume in 2021.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

We distribute SARE educational materials at all of our SARE trainings and other relevant programs in Florida. SARE materials are distributed to the public by state and county faculty that participate in our programs. We also distribute SARE books and educational materials to our advisory council and scholarship recipients.

302 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
401 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.