Langston University and Oklahoma State University have continued their commitment to promoting the enhancement of sustainable agriculture through their support of programming that encourages sound environmental practices, economic viability and social acceptance of the various agricultural industries in Oklahoma. This report will showcase these efforts. The Oklahoma Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program (OkSARE PDP) continues to leverage the program funding in cooperation with partnering agencies to provide a diversified and thorough offering for the education and experience of agricultural professionals in our state. OkSARE PDP sponsored trainings have included Extension Educators, Area Specialists, NRCS, NGO’s, the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC), State Specialists, tribal groups and producers. It is important to point out that our participants include members of a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses and educational levels. An overall total of over 1100 participants received direct training as a result of attending an OkSARE sponsored program. This number does not include any secondary impacts or the results of the dissemination of printed materials and online offerings. Trainings included regional workshops, demonstrations, tours, research presentations, online (webinar) and small group in-service trainings in addition to attendance at national and regional conferences. The objectives of these trainings were as follows: integrating sustainable practices into daily agricultural operations, providing information and education on organic and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) production and practices, providing information and education with respect to the environmentally sound management of natural resources–especially water, soil and air, providing opportunities for joint trainings in community food systems, farmers markets, fruit/vegetable production and food handling safety, becoming better prepared to assist and provide technical direction for producer driven research and on-farm demonstration activities through producer program granting opportunities, to help producers in developing alternative economic opportunities in their operations by encouraging conservation tillage and the adoption of cropping systems and to provide training in sustainable livestock practices. Each of these objectives will be discussed in detail elsewhere in this report.
- Thirty agricultural related personnel will include integrating sustainable agricultural concepts into daily agricultural operations such as cover cropping, crop rotations and rotational grazing.
- Thirty professionals will be able to provide information and education on organic and IPM certified production.
- Sixty participants will be able to provide information and education with respect to the environmentally sound management of natural resources–especially water, soil and air.
- One hundred attendees will have opportunities for trainings in community food systems, farmers markets, fruit and vegetable production and food handling safety.
- Twenty professionals would be better prepared to assist and provide technical direction for producer driven research and on-farm demonstration activities through producer program granting opportunities.
- Thirty educators and others will attend cropping systems and conservation tillage workshops to improve sustainability.
- Forty professionals will be trained in sustainable livestock practices.
This Oklahoma Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program 2019 Annual Report will cover all activities beginning spring of 2018 and ending the spring of 2019. The OkSARE participation in these events is determined by several factors which include adherence to specific OkSARE PDP objectives, available funding, cooperating organization needs and geographic location. This participation can be in the form of enabling speaker participation, organizing and administration of event activities, offering scholarships for educator travel, providing educational materials and facilitating communication between partnering organizations.
The trainings and activities outlined in this report that were supported by the Oklahoma Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program used several different educational approaches. The most prevalent style of activity is a directed teaching format. This format involves a designated speaker presenting information to a group of attendees. This format is utilized in both a classroom setting and a tour/field setting. In both, the speaker (or instructor) shows examples (photos, graphs, charts or actual physical specimens) and uses them to explain a concept. Experience (and attendee feedback) has taught us that the audience tends to gain more understanding when physical specimens are presented. This is why short courses, small groups and field tours tend to be very appreciated by our agricultural professionals. “Hands on” type learning is generally more effective for us versus a “theory only” program. Our program participants have also expressed appreciation for the Southern SARE printed publications which we are able to make available to them free of charge through the generosity of the Southern SARE office.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Thirty agricultural related personnel will include integrating sustainable agricultural concepts into daily agricultural operations such as cover cropping, crop rotations and rotational grazing.
This objective was addressed through the following programming:
- The Adapting Grazing Management for Future Needs Conference was held in June, 2018 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. There were 55 persons in attendance. This Conference addressed the topics of rotational grazing, forage production and managing livestock production for climate change.
- The OSU Winter Crop School was held in December, 2018 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There were 155 people in attendance. This program addressed cropping systems, crop rotations and reducing on-farm inputs such as fertilizer and herbicides.
- The 2019 Oklahoma All-Crops Conference was held in February, 2019 in Norman, Oklahoma. There were 125 attendees. This conference was the result of a cooperative effort between the various commodity and government/non-governmental groups within the state. The agenda addressed topics related to soil health, cropping systems, feral hogs, technology and an update on the status of the farm bill. 2019-All-Crops-Program
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of this initiative as a direct result of the above programming is as follows:
- The Adapting Grazing Management for Future Needs Conference increased educator knowledge on sustainable grazing systems management. Specifically, they learned about the benefits of rotational patch burn grazing. they also learned about the impact of grazing management on greenhouse gas emission with specific discussion about enteric methane emissions response to feed supplementations. Lastly, educators learned about the importance of selecting beef cattle genetics that are suitable for the production environment of the Southern Plains, in that it is important to select traits that don’t simply maximize production but that provide resilience to drought conditions commonly experienced in the region.
- The OSU Winter Crop School returned the following synopsis of the impact of that program, “The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service has seen an annual decrease in funding support for more than five years now. The decrease impacts both the funds for salary and travel/education.The impact of OkSARE PDP is that of making sure Cooperative Extension Service Educators and key identified speakers are able to attend the Winter Crops School (WCS). The WCS is the most intensive and comprehensive programming for cropping systems that OSU provides all year. So the educators that can attend due to the OkSARE PDP are able to bring back the most relevant and timing information to their county and constituents.”
- The 2019 Oklahoma All-Crops Conference increased knowledge about the use of cover crops and the benefits of no-till cropping systems with respect to reduced fuel and labor. It also provided knowledge on the current state of precision ag technologies and how they can be used to improve sustainability through input management as well as decision support tools usefulness in identifying land suitability of crop production.
Thirty professionals will be able to provide information and education on organic and IPM production and practices.
This objective was addressed through the following programming:
- The 2018 Organic Oklahoma Fall Farming Conference was held in October at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City. There were 95 people in attendance representing producers, extension, NRCS, OCC, tribal groups and other NGO’s. The conference covered topics relating to soil health, integrated pest management, planting for markets/harvest dates, value-added product development and varietal selections appropriate for geographical locations.
- The OkSARE PDP was instrumental in assisting in the development of an IPM Scouting Training Initiative for Extension Educators. This training has been extremely well received and will be continued into future training plans. The event has been offered at the county, district and state level for new and seasoned personnel. To date it is reported that over 70 professionals have received this training.
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of these programs are as follows:
- The 2018 Organic Oklahoma Fall Farming Conference has resulted in an increase in the interest of organic production practices particularly in our urban areas. It encourages the pursuit of organic transition and raises awareness of the potential for conventional producers to reduce their input of synthetic amendments. Integrated Pest Management has become a topic of great interest to our producers. Techniques such as trap cropping, companion planting and banker plants have been reported as of very high interest to the participants.
- The IPM Scouting Training Initiative received the following feedback statement from the training coordinators. “Extension educators receive samples of small arthropods or sticky cards on a daily basis. Few county offices have a microscope, so the educators rely on the Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Laboratory (PDIDL) to identify small arthropods. Since insects must be shipped to the PDIDL, this results in a shipping cost to the lab and several days pass before an identification is made. Since each county now has completed this program and received their identification supplies (which includes a portable lens system which attaches to a smart device and is priced at $12.15 apiece which received ratings comparable to full microscopes costing hundreds of dollars), they can now make at least 80% of the identifications on site. If additional help is requested, they can forward images or video captured (example video attached above) with the small portable digital microscopes to the PDIDL. This has reduced the time from identification from days to minutes. It has also reduced the sample load on the PDIDL so that they devote limited time and resources to the ever expanding number of samples received by the lab.has been extremely well received and many of our Educators have reported experiences like the following, “Using my materials from the IPM Training today I realized that I never said thank you for providing this program. Please thank all those responsible for providing it. Sugarcane aphids are attacking our forage sorghum, and grain sorghum, across the county. What a mess.”
Sixty professionals will be able to provide information and education with respect to the environmentally sound management of natural resources--especially water, soil and air.
In 2018, this objective was addressed through the OkSARE PDP participation and assistance with respect to the following programs:
- The Oklahoma Irrigation Conference was held in Altus, Oklahoma in February. There were 50 professionals in attendance. Water quality and usage continues to be of concern to producers in the Southern Great Plains, this conference was designed to address these concerns.
- The Plant Materials Conference was held in August in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There were 100 people in attendance from several states within our region.
- The OSU Winter Crop School also addressed this objective. That event has previously been mentioned with respect to attendance and topics covered.
- The 2019 Oklahoma All-Crops Conference has been previously discussed and addressed this program objective.
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of the above mentioned programs are as follows:
- The Oklahoma Irrigation Conference provided education on the benefits of irrigation system audits in optimizing water uniformity and energy efficiency. The attendees also learned about the use of mobile drip irrigation systems which could potentially increase water application efficiency compared to conventional systems. Lastly the attendees were educated on the use of soil moisture and other irrigation scheduling tools. This discussion was well received and allows educators to improve their ability to help producers adopt this technology that has been shown to reduce irrigation water use.
- The Plant Materials Conference reported the following statewide impact summary, “During the 2018 school year, the OkSARE PDP financial assistance resulted in at least 12 extension educators now financially able to attend extension workshops chaired by the OSU Horticulture Department. Schnelle expressed appreciation that not only were his attendee numbers bolstered as a result of OkSARE but more importantly attendee diversity was markedly enriched. Mike also commented on the “multiplier effect” conservatively estimating that the 12 extension educators returned to their county(ies) and easily reached 12,000 people, collectively. In summary, the impact of the Oklahoma SARE PDP was parlayed into statewide impact especially in the area of environmental stewardship.”
- The OSU Winter Crop School provide attendees with improved knowledge on the impact of cover crops on water quality. they also learned about the current state of soil health testing procedures and their current limitations with respect to decision support for cropping system decisions. lastly, the educators learned about best management practices for the utilization of manures and biosolids.
One hundred attendees will have opportunities for trainings in community food systems, farmers markets, fruit and vegetable production and food handling safety.
The OkSARE PDP training efforts that will serve to address this objective are as follows:
- The OkSARE PDP was able to step in and offer 6 travel scholarships for attendance at the 2019 Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference. The 2019 SSAWG was held in Little Rock, Arkansas in January of 2019. This opportunity is usually offered through a supplemental scholarship by the Southern SARE, however, funding was not available through them for this year. This conference is very well steeped in information regarding community food systems, farmers markets and fruit and vegetable production.
- The OkSARE PDP also offered travel scholarships for professionals to travel to the 2019 Horticulture Industry Show held in Fayetteville, Arkansas in January. This event always offers a great opportunity for trainings relating to fruit and vegetable production as well as food handling safety.
- The OSU Global Horticulture Conference was held in November in Stillwater, Oklahoma. There were 100 professionals in attendance. This event covered topics relating to fruit and vegetable production across the globe.
- In February, the Oklahoma Farmers Market and Agritourism Conference was held in Norman, Oklahoma and attended by 350 people (500 people had registered!) This event was free to the public but, the OkSARE PDP was well represented by trained participants on the planning committee and roster of speakers.
- The Southern SARE printed publications continue to be of great importance in small group trainings scheduled throughout the state for local groups such as native tribes, underserved populations and ethnic groups. Examples of these programs would be the Langston University Plasticulture/Horticulture Conference held in February in Midwest City, Oklahoma.
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of this training objective are as follows:
- The 2019 SSAWG Conference has always been an event that serves to energize and inspire the attendees in promoting food systems and food safety. Our representatives this year have reported that they thoroughly enjoyed the diverse and numerous opportunities for learning and that they, once again, returned from Arkansas inspired and ready to get to work!
- The 2019 Horticulture Industry Show allowed our attendees to continue their education regarding pollinators and their role in protecting food production systems and the challenges that are faced promoting their healthy populations in Oklahoma (and surrounding states). This is a topic that will be addressed in future OkSARE PDP programming as a direct result of our Educators attending this and other workshops that have addressed the issue of promoting and protecting pollinators
- The OSU Global Horticulture Conference reported the following statewide impact summary, “The OkSARE PDP financial assistance made it possible that attendee numbers were bolstered but more importantly attendee diversity was markedly enriched. The “multiplier effect” conservatively estimates that the participating extension educators returned to their county(ies) and easily reached in excess of 10,000 people. In summary, the impact of the Oklahoma SARE PDP was parlayed into statewide impact especially in the area of food production and food safety.”
- The OkSARE PDP has received great feedback from organizers of the trainings where the Southern SARE printed materials were distributed. These publications relating to soil health, cover cropping, crop rotations on organic farms, managing pollinators and insects on farms are made available at trainings attended by professionals and producers at events such as small farms, tribal trainings, market gardeners, master gardeners and even young and beginning farmer groups. This year, OkSARE PDP has distributed over 400 copies of Southern SARE printed materials. The recipients are always very grateful to receive them and have reported that they have become extremely useful reference materials to have both in the office and on the farm. The fact that we can provide them free of charge is just so very important for many of these recipients are low-income and could not afford to have this information available otherwise. THANK YOU and WELL DONE, Southern SARE!
Twenty extension educators would be better prepared to assist and provide technical direction for producer driven resarch and on-farm demonstration activities through producer program granting opportunities such as the USDA and SARE.
This objective is addressed by the following OkSARE PDP activities:
- The OkSARE PDP continues to make available to all Educators and county/district/area offices the Southern SARE printed materials in support of outreach activities in the encouragement and development of on-farm and producer grant proposals for Southern SARE, the USDA and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
- The OkSARE PDP continues to support training programs to encourage Educators and others in the development of local demonstration activities. This program continues to see an increase in interest at the county level.
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of this initiative are:
- This past year, the OkSARE PDP has seen an increase in the number of inquiries from educators and producers regarding preparing grant proposals for several of the programs available through Southern SARE. It is our understanding that these proposals will be submitted when appropriate throughout the coming year.
- Our county educators have continued to make use of the materials that OkSARE provides them for local demonstration activities. These demonstrations have been used for local field days, tours, and have even been known to turn up along highways. Reported by one county educator, “…thank you for purchasing the materials for the demo plots. I plan to put mine to use very soon as a pasture demonstration along a state highway.” That is certainly great exposure!
Thirty educators and others will help producers in developing alternative economic opportunities in their operations by encouraging conservation tillage and the adoption of cropping systems.
This objective was addressed through the following programs:
- The 2018 Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference was held in Midwest City, Oklahoma in August. There were 150 in attendance. This conference addressed issues related to both commodity and livestock production as well as best management practices for integrating sustainability into agricultural businesses.
- The 2019 Oklahoma All-Crops Conference (previously mentioned)
- The OSU Winter Crop School (previously mentioned)
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of this initiative are as follows:
- The 2018 Women in Agriculture and Small Business Conference reported the following, “98 % of participants from the statewide conference responded very positively to the information, education and/or workshops provided, citing the overall satisfaction of the conference as “Good” or “Excellent”. As a result of the programs, attendees said they would “be able to take a stronger role in their farm/ranch business” and will be able “to improve [their] operation”. It was also noted that the programing will assist them in “starting and growing [their] business”. The statewide conference has also encouraged county Extension educators and local Ag teachers to launch of several regional women in agriculture conferences around the state.”
- The 2019 Oklahoma All-Crops Conference provided knowledge on the use of alternative cover crop grazing approaches that allow growers the option to generate revenue directly from cover crops while improving soil health. Conference also provided education on how to take advantage of technology available on modern equipment to increase input efficiency and reduce production costs while optimizing return on investment.
- The OSU Winter Crops School provided knowledge to develop alternative economic opportunities through the production of Teff grass. The attendees learned about best management practices for its production as well as marketing opportunities of this high quality hay.
Forty professionals will be trained in sustainable livestock practices.
This objective was addressed through the following OkSARE cooperative training events:
- The 2018 Oklahoma State University Meat Goat Boot Camp was held in October in Ada, Oklahoma. There were 45 in attendance. This event was a three day workshop that combined traditional presentations with hands-on and class room exercises. Producers in attendance had the opportunity to perform many management practices taught on live goats. Management practices demonstrated include ear tagging, hoof trimming, castrating, herd health practices, kidding, neonatal care, marketing, FAMACHA, fecal egg counts, forage testing and management, ration balancing, reproduction, fencing, and farm business management.
- OkSARE was also active in the planning and administration of the Grazing CAP Symposium which was held in August in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 75 Agriculture Professionals attended. Discussion topics included forage production/management, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration and how the producer can be equipped to meet the needs of the future.
- The Langston University 2018 Goat and Hair Sheep Field Day was held on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at the Langston University Goat Farm. Recently, Langston University added a small research flock of Dorper, Katahdin, and St. Croix hair sheep and this year we incorporated topics of interest to hair sheep producers. This year’s theme was Preventing Production Losses and the featured speakers were Mr. Matthew Branan, Dr. David Pugh, and Dr. Jim Keen. *It is important to note that since this field day is scheduled very closely to the end of the reporting period each year, it is included in the next years’ report to allow the organizers adequate time to compile, compose and submit their report to the OkSARE PDP.
The learning and action outcomes and impacts of this initiative are as follows:
- The 2018 OSU Meat Goat Boot Camp was chaired by a graduate of the Southern SARE Fellows Program (and represents a long-term outcome of the Southern SARE programming in itself!) The program evaluation with respect to learning, action outcomes and the impact of this initiative is found in the following document: 2018-Evaluation-Summary-and-Impacts-from-Meat-Goat-Boot-Camp
- The Grazing CAP Symposium impacted the knowledge of attendees by educating them on the use of supplements to increase production efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions per unit of beef produced. It also increased their knowledge on the proper implementation of batch burn rotational grazing. Specifically, they learned how batch burning increased utilization of under utilized portions of the pastures while improving pasture health and beef performance. One of the most fascinating facts presented at this symposium has really caught the attention of many who attended. “Agriculture contributes about 8.0 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and enteric methane contributes 2.7 percent of that (EPA, 2016).” This appears to directly address an issue which is falsely reported in the media.
- A brief synopsis of the learning, action and impacts of the Langston University 2018 Goat and Hair Sheep Field Day is as follows:
Participants learned about..
- Tools in the War on Parasites with Dr. David Pugh.
- Common Diseases of Small Ruminants and Their Symptoms with Dr. James Keen.
- Where Are They Going? A Look at Past and Future NAHMS Goat and Sheep Health National Studies with Mr. Matthew Branan.
- Basic Herd Management –hoof trimming, body condition scoring, FAMACHA scoring, etc. with Mr. Jerry Hayes.
- What Processors Want – learn from a panel of meat processors concerning the type and weights of lambs and goats that they want with Oklahoma meat processors
- Goat and Sheep Farm Budgeting – basics of budgeting and financial recordkeeping with Mr. Clark Williams.
- Pack Goats – basic goat training as a pack animal and equipment needs with Mr. Dwite Sharp.
- Tanning Goat Hides – basic tanning and leather treatment of goat skins with Dr. Roger Merkel.
- The Art of Cheesemaking with Dr. Steve Zeng.
- Nutrition for Health and Production – calculation of energy, protein and feed intake requirements with Dr. Steve Hart.
- DHI Training – supervisor/tester training for dairy goat producers including scale certification with Ms. Eva Vasquez.
- USDA/APHIS: Animal ID with Dr. Michael Pruitt and USDA/WS: Wildlife programs with Mr. Kevin Grant (1:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. ONLY)
- USDA/NRCS: Conservation programs with Ms. D’Ann Peterson and USDA/FSA: Farm loans with Mr. Phil Estes (1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. ONLY)
- USDA/NASS: Animal inventories with Mr. Wil Hundl and USDA/AMS: Market strategies with Mr. Cole Snider (2:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. ONLY)
- Fitting and Showing for Youth and Adults – tips and pointers on fitting and show ring etiquette with Ms. Janet and Messrs. Robbie and Coleman Sanders (this was a half-day afternoon workshop).
The Goat Field Day for Kids provides the opportunity for kids to explore and enjoy “old-fashioned fun activities” while their parent(s) participate in the Goat Field Day Program. With all of today’s technological gizmos from the iPod to high-end smart phones and handheld games, most kids are no longer exposed to the old-fashioned games and activities that shaped the imaginations and innate creativity of their parents and grandparents. The Goat Field Day for Kids Program is intended to challenge and enhance cognitive and social skills. The development of intellectual and socialization practices has been determined as prerequisites for helping children to learn more complex concepts, thereby enhancing their personal capabilities.
- The scope of predator loss on the industry and how to alleviate the impact of predation.
- The detrimental impact of internal parasites on animal health and productivity and how to combat internal parasites.
- The seriousness of zoonotic diseases and how to safeguard their animals’ health, as well as their own.
- The basics of animal management and nutrition and how to be better stewards of their livestock.
- The assistance of USDA programs and how to access those programs.
Educational & Outreach Activities
As observed in years’ past, one of the major values in the approach that the OkSARE PDP uses in the leveraging of outside funding sources continues to be the development of supplemental future programming through the relationships built in these cooperative efforts. Of mention should be the success of the IPM Scouting Training for Educators which has received very favorable feedback from the county personnel. In the coming year, some new and developing program initiatives for OkSARE will be the expansion of the organic work at the Lane Ag station in cover cropping and pollinator habitats for a Field Day and Tour. Additionally, through feedback from the Oklahoma Irrigation Conference, the need for sustainable in-depth programming for irrigation training has been identified and is giving rise to a Sustainable Irrigation curriculum which the OkSARE PDP will be instrumental in developing and implementing for producers in the Southern Great Plains. The Langston University extension effort has seen growth in their Urban Farming initiative and will continue to explore the development of those outreach and training programs.
Face of SARE
The outreach and promotion of the SARE program is accomplished in a variety of ways within Oklahoma. As demonstrated previously in this annual report, the OkSARE PDP is active in various programs which are identified by the members of our Advisory Committee in their specialized focus groups. Our efforts have proven very successful in addressing the objectives which are targeted to meet the program area topics as dictated by this same Advisory Committee. The information and results from SARE activities is distributed and promoted through articles, field days, presentations at conferences and other appropriate events. Fact sheets, production manuals and handbooks are generated using the data from this work. These materials are then posted on our print-on-demand (PODS) website sponsored by the Oklahoma County Extension Service. Announcements are sent out to all extension personnel when new materials are ready for distribution. One of the most efficient and popular methods for assimilating information regarding OkSARE cooperative trainings has been the use of social media. Various cooperators maintain Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook pages where announcements are routinely sent out with links back to program information and pertinent materials. If funding permits, these materials are printed and distributed to target audiences at sustainable agriculture events. Southern SARE provided materials are also made available to all new Educators and presented for distribution at targeted meetings through the state.