Improving Pasture Management for Sustainable Livestock Production

Progress report for SNE20-001-CT

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $225,330.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: University of Connecticut
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
State Coordinators:
Joseph Bonelli
University of Connecticut
Co-Coordinators:
Rachel Bespuda
University of Connecticut
Jean King
University of Connecticut
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Project Information

Summary:

The Tri-State project is designed to increase the knowledge and skills of agricultural service providers who assist livestock producers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island and their engagement with producers on these issues.
Problem and Justification: Our comprehensive needs assessment sent to the 450 service providers and farmers on the project’s listserv, feedback from the project advisory group and direct contact with many agricultural agencies/interest groups throughout the region shows that further education is desired and necessary in the areas of pasture management, soil health and manure management.
Solution and Approach: Over the course of the three-year project, multiple delivery methods will be used to help participants gain knowledge and skills through several learning environments. These will include: classroom and field training workshops, frequent on-line correspondence, online access to all presentations, short videos, group discussions and collaboration at all workshops. Content and curricula for this project will be finalized in collaboration with the project advisory group which includes agricultural service providers, representatives from the agricultural industry and interested farmers in each of the respective states. The project will also offer a certificate program for those who are interested in participating. Electronic pre and post evaluation questions will help the project director understand the knowledge level of the participants both before and after each workshop. Follow-up questionnaires administered via a Qualtrics online survey will be conducted throughout the duration and after the completion of the project to quantify the number of participants who were able to utilize the knowledge and skills learned and apply it to their daily work with farmers.

Performance Target:

35 agricultural service providers who learn through the project will provide education and assistance (i.e. workshops, one-on-one consultations, articles, videos, websites, fact sheets, and project materials) regarding the recommended sustainable livestock production practices learned to 230 farmers in CT, MA and RI who manage livestock (bovine, goats, poultry, sheep, swine).

Introduction:

The 2017-2020 project established a solid knowledge and skills base for participants specific to the basic principles of pasture management and infrastructure. The project team members plan to build on the momentum that has been established, providing more advanced training and education in areas related to pasture management. These areas include soil health and manure (nutrient) management, both of which are recognized as key elements in sustainable agriculture, helping to advance environmental stewardship when managed properly. The goal is that many of the same participants involved in 2017-2020 project will take part in the upcoming three year project, thereby further increasing their knowledge, skills and understanding of the interrelations and synergistic relationship that pasture management, soil health and manure management have on livestock production. Agricultural Need: The topics listed above were identified as a priority among those who responded to the needs assessment administered in January 2020. Results of the survey showed that nearly 50% (38) of the respondents (19 ASP) selected pasture management and infrastructure as an area that required further training. Another 45% (35) of the respondents (21 ASP) indicated that soil health and manure management was an area of necessary education. Additionally, representatives from Connecticut and Rhode Island NRCS and the Rhode Island Division of Agriculture agreed in discussions with the project director further training is necessary in both soil health and manure management. Proposed Solution: Participants will develop increased knowledge and skills in the area of pasture management, soil health and manure management. Participants will also learn a variety of concepts and practices during the three-year period and can expect to have expanded their knowledge in areas including but not limited to the creation of a grazing plan, pasture scoring, the understanding and interpretation of soil test results, the use of soil data, maps and calculators, manure application rate charts and nutrient management plans.The project team has identified two potential barriers this project may face. One of those barriers may be the limited time agricultural service providers have to dedicate to the project. Many service providers find themselves with multiple responsibilities/duties and as a result may be unable to attend all workshops due to time constraints. If the lack of time by ASP becomes a reality, the project team will look into the possibility of recording the workshops and posting that recording on the project webpage in addition to the presentations from each workshop.  Another potential barrier in this project is the distance traveled to workshops by participants. Historically, the classroom workshops have been held in one central location. The location we have used has been an excellent venue. If travel becomes a barrier, the project director will determine if there may be other locations more central to those attending on a regular basis. Despite these potential barriers our experience from 2018 to 2020 has shown an increasing number of participants in our project who are attracted by the curricula content. Agricultural Service Provider Interest: This project will gather ASP from the Tri-State region including, but not limited to: Extension, NRCS, FSA, state Departments of Agriculture and animal health care professional personnel. Throughout the three-year project, the project director will work with involved participants to be sure that the project is meeting their desired training needs. The project director will engage with and talk to participants on an individual basis, both at workshops and via email and/or telephone correspondence. This connection with participants will encourage their continued engagement throughout the duration of the project.

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

This section was updated after the completion of the first project year and will continue to be updated as the remaining two years unfold. 

Recruitment

Agricultural service providers recruited for this project included University Extension faculty/staff, agricultural educators, personnel from federal and state agricultural agencies, animal health care professionals and non-profit agricultural service providers. Farmers were also welcome to participate as co-learners. Direct contact via the project’s listserv, created in 2010 and continually growing, was the primary method for recruiting beneficiaries. The Tri-State project currently has a listserv of 505 ASP and farmers from which the project recruited. Of those, 139 (78 service providers and 61 farmers) participated in at least one of the workshops conducted in 2017-2020. Some of the participants from 2017-2020 continued to play an active role in the first year of the 2020-2023 project. Others on the listserv became active participants for the first time. Secondarily, other recruitment strategies included direct telephone contact, website postings, newsletters/other appropriate publications and contacting other agricultural agencies/organizations in the Tri-State area directly.  Before the conclusion of the project, ASP will be supported by being offered analysis testing (i.e. soil, fecal and forage) for the farmers they work with, subject to funding. This should provide incentive for them to apply what they have learned through the project in their work with farmers. All participants had (and will continue to have) multiple opportunities to provide feedback on topics of focus they wish to learn more about. This gives those who are actively involved an opportunity to voice their opinion ensuring their continuation of interest and participation in the project.

Education

The needs assessment and other feedback, determined the following project topics.

  1. Pasture Management (grazing plans, pasture scoring, soil health and manure management, carbon farming)
  2. Soil Health (conservation, link to climate change and manure management)
  3. Manure Management (nutrient content, planning, composting)

The primary educational delivery methods were through webinars and field workshops. All project programming was developed to meet the needs of ASP and farmers. Webinars were planned as a series, each session building on the next. Though they could also be attended as stand-alone workshops. Field workshops applied the concepts learned in the webinars, through a hands-on approach. The project director invited topic specialists to present. Participants were both instructors and co-learners, building their knowledge and skills in new areas. Each webinar had dedicated time for group discussion via the use of breakout rooms. They were structured and moderated giving participants time to discuss ideas for advising about content learned and developing plans to implement those ideas. The discussions allowed for service providers and farmers within the room to interact with one another and gain an understanding of each others’ perspective. A variety of adult learning strategies were employed, including but not limited to small groups working on situational scenarios. At each webinar in the first year during the breakout sessions, participants worked on a piece of their grazing plan and by the conclusion of the webinars, (if all 4 were attended) they had a created a basic grazing plan unique to their farm. The documents that were used during the breakout sessions were posted on the project website and served as a source of information for those who could not be in attendance. Each field workshop included an analysis of concepts presented in the webinars with participants given time to assess the farm and apply the concepts learned previously. The host farm understood the intention and objectives of the technical analysis and were willing to take feedback provided by participants. Participants learned the goals of the farm, and were given time to assess the farm and provide the farmer with feedback and recommendations. This allowed for co-learning in a team setting, further discussion and application of the concepts learned. On-going communication with participants was maintained monthly via email, allowing them to share questions, challenges and successes of implementing concepts learned, if they were so inclined. Videography was used to enhance the project programming of the field workshops during year 1. The field workshops were either a hybrid situation of held virtually.  Since programming was held virtually for the most part, participants did not receive a binder, that would allow them to keep all information from the project. All presentations from the workshops were posted on the project website to serve as a reference and to enable others to learn. Consistent and regular communication with the group facilitated a community of learning and enabled the formation of a cohort of Tri-State service providers allowing for cross-border networking and collaboration.

Verification

The project director gathered information and was able to assess baseline knowledge and skills, verify participants learning and identify their needs for additional learning at each program. A series of pre and post evaluation questions administered electronically at the beginning and end of each workshop was conducted via Slido. A Qualtrics online survey was distributed 4 to 6 months after the completion of the training workshops in the first year and will be done in subsequent years as well. Every participant attending at least one of the workshops conducted received the follow-up survey. The survey was designed in such a way to present questions to each participant based on the program(s) they attended. This survey verified how well the participants were able to follow through in applying the knowledge and skills learned to teach and advise farmers. They also had the opportunity to share any comments/thoughts they had on the workshops and made suggestions for future programming. The project offered a certificate program for participants. The program required the participant to attend all webinars and at least one field training workshop each year. In order to earn the certificate, after the completion of the yearly workshops,  each participant had a phone conversation with a member of the project team, discussing how they have applied the skills and knowledge learned to their everyday work. They shared information on how many farmers they have worked with in regard to what they have learned as a result of this project and what educational tools they used when providing the training and education.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Every January, 450 unique individuals (agricultural service providers and farmers) receive an announcement describing the classroom workshops planned for the Tri-State SARE professional development project (one announcement per year, 3 in total for the project). The announcement includes an invitation to provide feedback to the Project Director and the opportunity to register for one or all of the classroom workshops to be held that year. Moving forward throughout the project year, planned workshops will be promoted and advertised on the project website (https://livestock.extension.uconn.edu/) and with the help of agricultural service provider organizations/groups and publications.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
450
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

January 2021- First Year

An announcement, showcasing the 2021 winter webinar series was distributed to 484 service providers and farmers on the Tri-State SARE mailing list in January. This announcement was also sent to agricultural service provider groups and organizations throughout the region. The recipients were invited to look at the project website for more information and encouraged to use the link provided to register for the webinars.

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Each year, a series of three half day classroom training workshops will be held in a central location to the Tri-State region (3 workshops per year, 9 in total for the project). The project director will invite content area specialists to these workshops, allowing participants to increase their knowledge and skills in the area of soil health and manure management as they relate to grazing management. This milestone will be attended by single attendees who may participate in multiple workshops.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
225
Proposed Completion Date:
July 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

*Prior to the start of the 2020-2021 programming, the project team with approval from the SARE Program Coordinator made the decision to conduct all classroom programming virtually due to COVID restrictions* 

The project hosted a winter webinar series (4 in total) on the topic of creating (writing) a simple grazing plan. The Project Director invited 4 content area specialists from across the Northeast to be a part of the series, all of whom participated in at least 2 of the webinars. This helped in keeping consistency and continuity throughout the series. Many participants were a part of more than one webinar (47 of the 60 participants total attended at least two of the four webinars). The Tri-State SARE project collaborated with the New England Grazing Network (funded through the Cedar Tree Foundation) on the series. The Network's Project Coordinator was a part of all 4 webinars and offered one on one follow up support for those who attended the webinar(s).

The first webinar (Introduction to the development of a simple grazing plan) was held on February 19th. 25 ASP  and 25 farmers attended. 47 (94%) participants completed the 'on-site' evaluation. Initially, 27 (57%) participants reported having minimal knowledge of the components of a grazing plan. At the end of the webinar 20 (43%) reported having moderate knowledge while another 10 (21%) noted they had considerable knowledge. 36 (77%) participants indicated they had either minimal or moderate understanding of how to develop their grazing plan goals prior to the start of the webinar. 31 (66%) said they had either moderate or considerable understating of goal development after the webinar. 25 (53%) participants indicated they they plan to integrate the information learned into their work, while only 1 (.02%) said they have no plans to use the information.

The second webinar (Grazing plan calculations) was held on March 10th. 25 ASP and 18 farmers attended. 38 (88%) participants completed the 'on-site' evaluation. 26 (68%) participants indicated they had minimal to moderate understanding of the forage calculations that needed  to be worked through when developing a grazing plan while 9 (24%) had no knowledge of the calculations. At the conclusion of the webinar zero (0) participants reported having no knowledge of the calculations while another 29 (76%) reported having moderate to considerable knowledge. Only 2(.05%) participants indicated having considerable understanding of a forage balance sheet prior to the start of the webinar. By the end of the webinar 18 (47%) participants indicated they had considerable understanding.

The third webinar (Integrating fence and water infrastructure) was held on March 23rd. 22 ASP and 15 farmers attended. 30 (81%) participants completed the 'on-site' evaluation. 7 (19%) participants indicated having non existent understanding of the topics that would be covered during the webinar. By the conclusion of the webinar, zero (0) respondents reported having non existent understanding of any of the topics. Only 2 (.05%) attendees had previously integrated these topics into their work prior to the webinar while another 20 (54%) indicated that they plan to integrate the topics into their work.

The fourth webinar (Refining your grazing plan) was held on April 6th. 20 ASP and 11 farmers attended. 27 (87%) participants completed 'on-site' evaluations via the use of Slido. 16 (52%) participants indicated they had moderate to considerable understanding of the value in monitoring and assessing their grazing plan at the start of the webinar. At the conclusion, 30 (97%)  participants indicated they had moderate to considerable understanding of the value in assessing their grazing plan. Only 2 (.06%) attendees had previously integrated these topics into their work prior to the webinar while another 14 (45%) indicated that they plan to integrate the topics into their work.

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

At each classroom workshop, participants will engage in group discussions (3 in total for the year, 9 in total for the project). By the end of the discussion, participants (as a group) will generate ideas and develop a list of steps that can be taken to teach and advise farmers as a result of the knowledge acquired and skills learned during the workshop. The farmers will be asked to determine what of the concepts learned can apply to their own situation. This milestone will be attended by single attendees who may participate in multiple workshops.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
225
Proposed Completion Date:
July 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

Each webinar consisted of instruction and time for interaction and collaboration among participants. Because the meeting was held virtually, the group discussion that would have occurred if the workshops were in person became breakout room sessions. Each webinar had 1-2 breakout sessions. These sessions were led by moderators who were part of the project team and/or the content area specialists who were invited to be speakers.  The sessions, which consisted of 5 to 8 participants in each, worked through exercises that helped reinforce the content taught. By the end of the 4 webinar series, participants worked through all of the basic steps to create a simple grazing plan. The participants were also asked after each webinar via a post evaluation what action step(s) they planned to take as a result of attending the webinar.  

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Every April, 450 unique individuals (agricultural service providers and farmers) receive an announcement describing the field training workshops planned for the Tri-State SARE professional development project (one announcement per year, 3 in total for the project). The announcement includes an invitation to provide feedback to the project director and the opportunity to register for one or all of the field workshops to be held that year. Moving forward throughout the project year, planned workshops will be promoted and advertised on the project website (https://livestock.extension.uconn.edu/) and with the help of agricultural service provider organizations/groups and publications.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
450
Proposed Completion Date:
April 30, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

An announcement, showcasing the 2021 field webinars was distributed to 505 service providers and farmers on the Tri-State SARE mailing list in July. This announcement was also sent to agricultural service provider groups and organizations throughout the region. The recipients were invited to look at the project website for more information and encouraged to use the link provided to register for the webinars.

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

Each year, two half day field training workshops will be held (2 workshops per year, 6 in total for the project). These workshops will highlight the recommended practices taught in the classroom training workshops. To the best of the project director’s ability, these workshops will be planned and hosted by a farmer who is also a participant in the project, working to implement the concepts learned throughout the classroom workshops. These workshops will allow for continued learning and further discussion about the topic and concepts learned in the classroom. This milestone will be attended by single attendees who may participate in multiple workshops.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
90
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

*The project team with approval from the SARE Program Coordinator made the decision to conduct all field programming virtually due to COVID restrictions* 

The project hosted 2 virtual field training workshops. The first webinar, held on August 11th, covered pasture assessment and looked specifically at the use of the Pasture Condition Scoring (PCS) method. 12 ASP and 11 farmers attended. 7 (30%) participants completed the 'on-site' evaluation. At the conclusion of the workshop, 5 (22%) noted that they had considerable understanding of the value in assessing a pasture, while only 1 (.04%) noted that at the start of the workshop. 6 of the 7 (86%) participants mentioned they already do or plan to integrate what they learned into their daily work. The second webinar was held on August 25th. 10 ASP, 6 farmers and 11 high school Vo-Ag students attended. 12 (75%) participants completed the 'on-site' evaluation. Initially, 6 (38%) participants noted they had minimal knowledge in the aspects of a grazing plan that should be considered when assessing grazing management. In the post evaluation, zero (0) participants noted they had minimal knowledge while 6 (38%) noted they had considerable knowledge in the aspects to consider when assessing grazing management. 9(56%) participants said they plan to or have already started using the information learned during the webinar in their daily work.  The webinar, titled Grazing Management Analysis, was meant to be a direct follow up to the winter webinar series allowing participants to analyze and provide direct feedback to the farmer with regard to their grazing plan/management.  In an effort to bring the field to the participants, both webinars included a 15 minute pre-recorded video that the SARE project staff created with the help of a professional videographer. The video created for the pasture assessment webinar was filmed in front of a live audience allowing those attending (9 in total) to participate in real time. The final videos were not only used during the webinar but were also made available on the project website.  Each webinar also contained pre and post evaluation questions as a way to measure the knowledge and understanding of the participants before and after the webinar. 

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

At each field workshop, participants will complete an analysis of the farm (2 in total for the year, 6 in total for the project). Prior to the end of each workshop, analyses will be shared and recommendations will be made to the host farm regarding the pasture management, soil health and manure management practices on their farm. This milestone will be attended by single attendees who may participate in multiple workshops.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
90
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

*The project team with approval from the SARE Program Coordinator made the decision to conduct all field programming virtually due to COVID restrictions* 

Both field training webinars included breakout sessions to allow for discussion and reflection. During the pasture assessment webinar, participants were able to ask further questions and comment on their own situations. Some of the discussion included if they had ever assessed their own or a client's pasture and what they plan to do with the information they learned. The grazing management analysis webinar had 2 breakout sessions to allow for discussion and analysis of the farm and additionally, had time for questions and answers with the farmer. At the end of the webinar each breakout group selected a representative to present the groups thoughts and suggestions for change to the farmer.  

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

All uniquely individual project participants receive monthly updates from the project director. These updates will allow for the sharing of questions and information throughout the project and facilitate a community of learning among participants.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
50
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

Each month (January - September) the project director sent a monthly correspondence email to all project participants. The email list was updated with each passing webinar to include any new project participants. Information such as project correspondence, follow up resources and references as well as opportunity to ask questions were all part of the monthly correspondence the project director had with the group. 

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

All participants involved in the project will be eligible to receive a certificate at the end of each project year (can earn up to 3 in total for the project). The requirements include: attending all classroom workshops (3 per year), at least one field workshop per year and being in direct communication with the project director discussing how they have applied the knowledge and skills learned throughout the year in their day to day work.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
10
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

A total of 10 participants (6 ASP, 4 Farmers) earned a Certificate of Participation in 2020-2021. All participants attended the winter webinar series (4 total webinars) focused on the creation of a grazing plan. Additionally, each recipient scheduled time for a telephone call (follow up interview) with the project facilitator. They were asked several questions but the focus was on how they were using the information learned in the workshops or planned to use it in the future. A participant survey report  captured the findings/outcomes of these calls. (Please note, not all those who participated in the follow up interviews fulfilled the remaining requirements to receive the certificate).

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4 to 6 months after the completion of each project year all uniquely individual participants who attended at least one of the 5 workshops (3 classroom and 2 field) held will respond to a follow-up survey (3 in total for the project) from the project director. Service providers will report on actions taken to teach and advise farmers using the knowledge and skills learned through the workshops, while farmers will report on what changes they have implemented on their farm.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
35
Proposed Completion Date:
December 31, 2023
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

First Year (2020-2021)

The Project Director sent out a follow -up survey in October 2021 to those who participated in at least 1 of the 6 webinars held in the 2020-2021 grant year. The survey was customized to the respondent based on whether they were an ASP or farmer and which webinar(s) they attended. ASP were asked how/if they have shared the information that was taught and farmers were asked if they have/plan to implement any of the information that was taught. Other questions included how they shared the information, the numbers of animals/acres they own, virtual learning and what topics they'd like to learn about in the future. The survey was sent to 73 participants in total, 39 ASP and 34 farmers. The respondents were given about 1 month to respond to the survey. There was a 40% response rate overall. The findings are reported in the performance target outcome section. 

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 1 1
Curricula, factsheets or educational tools 5 5
Webinars, talks and presentations 6 6
Workshop / field days 1 1

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 9 0 0 0
NRCS 21 0 0 0
Nonprofit 2 0 0 0
Agency 1 0 0 0
Service providers (other or unspecified) 6 0 0 0
Farmers / ranchers 34 0 0 0
Others 11 0 0 0

Learning Outcomes

Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

YEAR 1
Cumulatively, over the 6 webinars held in 2021, 73 participants (39 ASP, 34 farmers) reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation in the webinars as reported by the pre and post evaluation questions. The evaluation questions asked them to report changes in knowledge, skills or attitudes and also to tell us whether they intended to use this knowledge gained from this project in their work with farmers. The evaluation questions (through Slido) allowed participants to report what action steps they planned to take as a result of participating in the workshop.

Key areas in which the participants reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness on evaluation forms completed at the workshop are as follows:
-The key components of a grazing plan
-Developing and defining grazing goals and objectives
-Understanding of what comprises a farms inventory
-Watering systems and fencing types that can be used with grazing livestock
-Contingencies as part of a grazing plan
-Winter feeding plans
-Pasture Assessment using the condition scoring method
-Analyzing and assessing a grazing plan

**PLEASE NOTE: the evaluations are anonymous and therefore the numbers of service providers and farmers reported above is a best estimate of the project team. We presume that all attendees noted at some point throughout the project that they have increased/verified their knowledge/skills/awareness in some area(s) and plan to use that knowledge and skills in their work. The total number reflected above are the unique number of individual service providers and farmers who attended at least one of the 6 workshops the project hosted in 2021**

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Target #1

Target: Number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
35
Target: The educational action(s) they will take:

35 agricultural service providers who participate in this project will provide a range of workshops, one-on-one consultations, articles, videos, websites, fact sheets and project materials about the recommended pasture management, soil health and manure management practices learned to 230 farmers they work with.

Target: The number of farmers who will be educated/advised by the service providers:
230
Target: Total size/scale of the farms these farmers manage (e.g. total acres or animal units managed, gross sales or production volume, etc.):
Verified: Number of service providers who reported taking the targeted action(s) to educate/advise farmers in each year:
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
14
The educational action(s) taken:

please see Performance target outcome narrative for service providers, below for an explanation of the educational action(s) taken

Verified: The number of farmers who were educated/advised by the service providers:
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
93
Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Curricula, factsheets and other educational tools 2 2
Consultations 9 9
Online trainings 1 1
Published press, articles, newsletters 2 2
Workshops and field days 2 2
high school animal science teacher-incorporate concepts into the curriculum as they see fit 1 1
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

3 months after the completion of year 1, the Project Director distributed a follow-up survey to the service providers and farmers who attended at least one of the six workshops held. The survey was created in Qualtrics and formatted in such a way that presented the questions based on the webinars that the respondent attended, therefore not all respondents received the same questions.  The survey was distributed via an email link to 73 total participants, 39 service providers and 34 farmers. 29 participants, 15 service providers and 14 farmers responded (40%) to the survey. We were interested in learning what actions participants had taken since the webinars, how they used the information learned, how many they were able to share the information with and how useful the virtual learning platform was for them.

1 (0.06%) service provider indicated that they have not shared any of the information learned in the webinars they attended and did not indicate why. They did attend all 6 webinars (and gave our virtual learning platform an excellent rating) the project hosted so the project team is hopeful that the participant will use the information learned in the future. All other service providers who responded to the survey have shared or plan to share the best practices that were discussed in the 2020 webinars. 8 of 14 (57%) service providers have shared information regarding the key components of a grazing plan while another 5 (36%) plan to share the information. 8 of 12 (67%) service providers have shared information about the importance of goal setting and the resources that are considered inventory when developing a grazing plan. 3 (25%) service providers plan to share this information. 1 of 10 (10%) service providers shared how to calculate forage needs and yields and interpret those calculations with a forage balance sheet while 8 (80%) plan to share the information in the future.  8 of 11 (73%) service providers shared information about the importance of contingency plans while another 2 (18%) plan to share the information. 7 of 11 (64%) shared information about the importance of recording keeping for a grazing plan and another 3 (27%) plan to share the information. Only once, did 1 (0.06%) service provider indicate that they needed more information before sharing with others. This information was in regard to fencing and water infrastructure in a grazing set up. 7 of 12 (58%) service providers have shared this information and 3 (25%) plan to share the fencing and water infrastructure information. 2 of 7 (33%) shared information about what should be considered when analyzing a grazing plan while another 3 (50%) plan to share the information.  An equal number of service providers shared (4 of 9, 44%) or plan to share (4 of 9, 44%) information about how to assess pasture using the pasture condition score method. 10 of 14 (71%) service providers indicated they also learned something in addition to the concepts that are mentioned above. 9 of 10 (90%) ranked the virtual learning setting either very good or excellent and said there was nothing that could be done to improve it in the future.

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Target #1

Verified: number of farmers who made a change/adopted a practice:
14
Performance target outcome for farmers narrative:

3 months after the completion of year 1, the Project Director distributed a follow-up survey to the service providers and farmers who attended at least one of the six workshops held. The survey was created in Qualtrics and formatted in such a way that presented the questions based on the webinars that the respondent attended, therefore not all respondents received the same questions.  The survey was distributed via an email link to 73 total participants, 39 service providers and 34 farmers. 29 participants, 15 service providers and 14 farmers responded (40%) to the survey. We were interested in learning what actions participants had taken since the webinars, how they used the information learned, how many they were able to share the information with and how useful the virtual learning platform was for them.

 

None of the farmers who responded to the survey indicated that they have no plans to implement what was taught. Prior to attending the webinars, half (5 of 10, 50%) of the farmers had a grazing plan for there farm while the remaining 50% did not. 4 of 10 (40%) already had goals set as part of their grazing plan while another 6 (80%) either started or plan to start developing and setting goals to include in their grazing plan. 1 of 10 (10%) was already determining their inventory based on the resources they had on the farm. 5 (50%) started doing this since the webinars, 3 (30%) plan to start doing this and 1 (10%) indicated they have no plans to determine their inventory. 2 of 8 ( 25%) farmers mentioned they have already been calculating and interrupting their forage needs while 5 (58%) said they have started or plan to do this. 1 (12.5%) said they need more information before using and interrupting the calculations. 6 of 9 (67%) farmers were already laying out their fencing and water infrastructure within their grazing plan while another 3 (33%) have started doing it since the webinars. An equal number of farmers were doing (3 of 6, 50%) or plan to start (3 of 6, 50%) developing contingency plans to include in their grazing plan. 4 of 6 (67%) farmers plan to begin keeping records for their grazing plan while 1 (17%) was doing it before the webinar and 1 (17%) started after attending the webinar. Only 1 of 6 (17%) farmers were assessing their pasture using the pasture condition score method prior to the webinar while 2 (33%) plan to start and 2 (33%) started since the webinar. 9 of 13 (69%) farmers indicated they also learned something in addition to the concepts that are mentioned above. 4 of 4 (100%) ranked the virtual learning setting either very good or excellent. 3 of 4 (75%)  said there was nothing that could be done to improve it in the future, while 1 (25%) said to do the same sessions but earlier in the year so that there was more time for planning and implementation.

Additional Project Outcomes

Additional Outcomes Narrative:

YEAR 1

The project produced 4 professionally made videos in 2021. Two of the videos were incorporated into the field webinars in an effort to make them as hands on as possible. The remaining two videos helped illustrate a few of the concepts that were discussed throughout the project year. The four videos were: how to use the pasture condition score method, how to take a dry matter sample, how to utilize a pasture stick and a grazing management analysis video of a CT farm. All videos were available for viewing in early September 2021 on the project website and the UConn Youtube channel and as of Nov. 15th 2021 they received 82 views.

Success stories:

Several farmers who participated in year 1 of the project commented in the year end follow up survey that was distributed. One said: "Very happy I was able to participate in the workshop; topics, handouts, and breakout sessions were very helpful. I feel much more informed and confident in approaching grazing". Another said: "great workshop. forage calculation really stimulated my thinking."

Someone who participated in year 1 as both a service provider and a farmer provided the following comment in the year end follow up survey: "I greatly appreciate these workshops. They have provided greater insight to me as a livestock producer and agricultural educator. They are thoughtfully created and do a great job of bringing producers together for real conversations - not just theoretical suggestions."

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

Our SARE outreach is occurring through online webinars and conferences in 2021. In the opening comments of each Tri-State SARE workshop the CT state SARE coordinator takes 3 to 5 minutes to discuss the different grant opportunities that SARE provides using the SARE grant comparison chart. The CT State SARE coordinator also created a short webinar about NESARE and the grant opportunities they have available. This webinar is on the project website.

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 39 0 0 39
Farmers 34 0 0 34
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.