South Dakota SARE Plan of Work 2021-22

Final report for WNC20-111

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $129,904.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: South Dakota State University
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
State Coordinator:
Dr. David Karki
South Dakota State University
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Project Information

Abstract:
  1. Beginning Farmers/Ranchers
  2. Wholistic Management
  3. Soil Health
  4. Local Foods
Project Objectives:

All initiatives will include particular efforts to target beginning farmers/ranchers for programming as well as travel grants and minigrants.

1. Beginning Farmer/Ranchers: Identifying needs and strengthening sustainability.

As part of this NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2021-22, we will focus particular efforts on beginning farmers and ranchers. The 2017 Census of Agriculture reported that 45% of vegetable growers, 36% of fruit growers, and 32% of sheep growers in South Dakota are beginning growers (less than 10 years). Other farming categories range around 20% for beginning producers: oilseed/grain, hay, beef and hogs.

a.) Expected outcomes. Short term: We will gain a clearer understanding of the particular needs of beginning producers in our state. Current programs and resources will be identified, and agricultural professionals will be provided training on how to better assist beginning farmers and ranchers. Intermediate term: Sustainable agriculture program areas will report taking into account the special needs of new producers in their program development and delivery. Gaps of resources will be identified and addressed. Long-term: Beginning producers and the ag professionals who serve them will have increased access to programs and knowledge pertaining to the needs of beginning producers.

b.) Activities. Because South Dakota representatives were unable to attend the regional training in Indianapolis in 2019, we will form a task force of interested board members, ag professionals, and producers who have been farming or ranching less than ten years. The task force will identify general and specific educational needs for beginning producers in South Dakota, as well as identify existing resources and programming, both in-state and regionally or nationally. This may include workshops, study tours, webinars, or other educational programming for both beginning producers and the ag professionals serving them. During the two-year period, we will offer travel scholarships, and where appropriate, mini-grant support to further educational programming that increases the sustainability and success of beginning farmers and ranchers. Because of the particular needs of these producers and the potential for long-term outcomes, at least 50% of our mini-grants and travel scholarships will include designated efforts to learn about and/or address the needs of beginning farmers and ranchers.

c.) Evaluation. Assessment of task force plan to increase the access of beginning farmers and ranchers to knowledge and resources in the area of sustainable production. Participants will be surveyed to assess what they have learned, what they plan to implement, and for suggestions to improve the program(s). Recipients of travel sponsorships will be asked to report how they have shared knowledge gained. Recipients of mini-grants will be asked to administer and report results of event surveys. Participants will be invited to participate in post-event surveys to gauge changes in behavior.

2. Soil Health

a.) Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on increasing soil carbon, reducing soil erosion, enhancing soil water infiltration, efficiency of nutrient and water cycling, and use of cover crops. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on topics related to soil carbon, soil erosion, soil water infiltration, efficiency of nutrient and water cycling, and use of cover crops. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to the above topics.

b.) Activities. Various opportunities will exist through SDSU Extension, SDSHC, SDGC, NRCS, and other local organizations to provide meetings, workshops, and schools on soil health, cover crops, no-till, water quality, and efficient nutrient cycling on both crop and grazing lands. We expect to support two to three soil health workshops which will occur in the winter of 2021 and 2022 and the SDSHC Soil Health School each fall. Participants will learn basic principles of: soil structure, soil microbiology, effects of no-till, crop rotations and cover crops management. One hundred fifty participants are expected, including SDSU Extension, NRCS personnel, NGO’s, private industry and farmers. SARE will continue to provide travel scholarships to assist individual educators to attend regional meetings on sustainable agriculture. Educators will use the information gained at workshops to educate producers about sustainable agriculture.

c.) Evaluation. Participants will be surveyed to assess what they have learned, what they plan to implement, and for suggestions to improve the program(s). Recipients of travel sponsorships will be asked to report how they have shared knowledge gained. Recipients of mini-grants will be asked to administer and report results of event surveys. Participants will be invited to participate in post-event surveys to gauge changes in behavior.

3. Sustainable Livestock Production

a) Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on sustainable livestock production practices such as rotational grazing, livestock-crop integration, low stress livestock handling, novel technology adoption and implementation (i.e. drones, virtual fencing, animal behavior/movement monitors). Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on the topics listed above. Long-term: 25% of producers attending trainings will adopt practices related to sustainable livestock production.
b) Activities: Support workshop(s) for extension, public sector, and private consultants that focus on grazing best management practices and will include hands-on field exercises and demos. 40 participants are expected consisting of SDSU Extension, NGO’s, private industry and farmers and ranchers. We will also help support a Grazing School and a pasture walk, with 60 participants from the same audience. We plan to provide funding for mini-grants and travel scholarships supporting sustainable agriculture. Extension personnel will utilize gained knowledge by sharing it with producers.

c.) Evaluation. Participants will be surveyed to assess what they have learned, what they plan to implement, and for suggestions to improve the program(s). Recipients of travel sponsorships will be asked to report how they have shared knowledge gained. Recipients of mini-grants will be asked to administer and report results of event surveys. Participants will be invited to participate in post-event surveys to gauge changes in behavior.

4. Local Foods

a.) Expected outcomes. Short term: extension, public sector, and private consultants will be provided with opportunities for training on local vegetable and fruit hubs, production techniques, marketing, and pest management. Intermediate term: 50% of trained extension, public sector, and private consultants will provide training to producers on topics related to vegetable and fruit cooperatives, production techniques, marketing, and pest management. Long-term: 25% of producers attending training will adopt practices related to local food production.

b.) Activities. Field tours: Support field tours and workshops of organizations working in the area of local foods, such as the South Dakota Specialty Producers Association (SDSPA. We anticipate about 100 participants consisting of SDSU Extension, NGO’s, private industry and farmers. The audience should better understand the principles of sustainable food production; general production, high tunnel management, marketing, food hubs and CSA’s. We will support the South Dakota Local Foods Conference held in November each year. SARE will support travel scholarships and mini-grants concerning high tunnels, general production practices, producer food safety, and producer cooperation and. Educators will use information gained at workshops to advise and educate producers.

c.) Evaluation. Participants will be surveyed to assess what they have learned, what they plan to implement, and for suggestions to improve the program(s). Recipients of travel sponsorships will be asked to report how they have shared knowledge gained. Recipients of mini-grants will be asked to administer and report results of event surveys. Participants will be invited to participate in post-event surveys to gauge changes in behavior.

Advisors

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Education

Educational approach:

What is sustainable agriculture? SARE defines sustainability using three key concepts: Long-term profitability; Stewardship of our land and natural resources,; and Quality of Life for farmers, ranchers, and their communities. This definition is similar to the concept of triple bottom-line economics: financial, environmental, and social. A business needs to be profitable, a good steward of its natural resources, and socially responsible. Moving toward sustainability should be seen as a continual process and not viewed dogmatically as “either you are or aren’t”.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Beginning Farmer/Ranchers
Objective:

To provide trainings to ag. professionals to better assist with needs of beginning farmers and ranchers

Description:

The 2017 Census of Agriculture reported that 45% of vegetable growers, 36% of fruit growers, and 32% of sheep growers in South Dakota are beginning growers (less than 10 years). Other farming categories such as oilseed, hay, beef, and hog range around 20% for beginning producers. 

Outcomes and impacts:

The year 2021, especially the first half, was an extreme challenge due to COVID-19 pandemic. Most professionals were faced remote work policies which significantly restricted travel, face-to-face events, and overall outreach activity by SDSU Extension and other partnering agencies. As the pandemic situation gradually improved, the SD Dakota Rural Action (DRA) was able to host in-person 'Farm Beginnings South Dakota' program in June. However, due to safety concerns, the program was not highly promoted. The DRA students were joined by the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative Waicahya Icagapi Kte (WIK) interns to share the experience. The WIK internship is an opportunity for adult Native American tribal members on the Rosebud Reservation to learn about becoming small-scale food producers. 

The DRA is one of the few NGOs that focuses on beginning farmers and have usually requested mini-grants in the past. But in 2021, due to other resources and smaller event, they did not ask for any SARE support. The above information was provided by one of the advisors who is also an active member of DRA.

The SDSU Agronomy Extension team hosted a series of virtual online webinars from Jan-March, 2021. The SARE provided mini-grant to support the program as several weeks were dedicated to topics such as 'soil health & cover crops', 'alternative crops like oats and pulses', and 'polycropping'. These three topics alone attracted more than 600 participants and about 30% of the participants/registrants were in the age range of 18-29 years. These webinar series provided a strong platform for young farmer/ranchers to learn about sustainable crop production practices such as crop rotation, double cropping, soil health, cover crops, etc.

Programing related to other initiatives also include topics related to beginning farmers.

 

 

Wholistic Management (Crop-Livestock Integration) and Soil Health
Objective:

To support programming that focuses on enhancing ag professionals' knowledge base on soil health and livestock integration to improve quality of land and natural resources

Description:

Although crop-livestock integration (wholistic management) and soil health were proposed as two separate initiatives, we are reporting them together as most programs tend to address these two overarching topics simultaneously.

 

Outcomes and impacts:

We provided mini-grant support to SD Soil Health Coalition to host 2021 Annual Conference in January. The conference was held virtually that attracted a total of 438 participants (166 students from SD, other US states and international). There were total of 213 producers and 60 agriculture professionals. The event was extremely successful and was a great learning experience for not only producers and ag. professionals but also young college students who could be our next generation sustainable agriculturist. One of the keynote speakers at the event was a young farmer/rancher from Ideal, SD.

The SD SHC also hosted a two-day 'Soil Health School' in August that provided students with both in-class presentation/demonstration and tours of farms and demonstration plots established by the Coalition and SDSU Extension. A total of 33 students participated in the school (26 male, 7 female). The state SARE helped the school buy the latest edition of 'Managing Soils for Better Crops' book.

We did not receive any travel scholarship request in 2020. The 2021 was not greatly different either, but we did receive travel request from SD Soil Health Coalition and SD Grassland Coalition for their board members and staff to attend a workshop hosted by 'National Wildlife Federation' in November. The workshop focused on planning and evaluation of programs to better assist in conservation outreach. Both Coalitions are great advocate of conservation agriculture and this workshop will help the participants gain messaging and farming strategies to reach out to farmers hesitant to changing practices.

In December of 2021, SARE supported (as mini-grant) SDSU Extension host a day long program 'Managing Soil Maximizing Profit'. The program was attended by farmers, NRCS professionals, and other ag. advisors (total of 40). The highlight of the programs was a producers panel that discussion how the conventional practices were gradually converted to soil health systems with increasing farm profitability over time.

 

 

Local Foods
Objective:

To support programming focusing on enhancing knowledge on sustainable vegetable and fruit production locally

Description:

Professionals from extension, public sector, and private entities will be provided with opportunities for training
on local vegetable and fruit hubs, production techniques, marketing, and pest management.

Outcomes and impacts:

The Local Foods Conference hosted by SD Specialty Producers Association was initially planned for face-to-face but due to rising COVID concern, the conference was held virtually. The host organization decided to create a box with resource materials and mail to each registrant, therefore SARE provided mini-grant to buy SARE publication and associated shipping costs.

The box project was very successful and well received by attendees. Each attendee (including a dozen NRCS employees) who provided us with their mailing address were able to receive a box with Building Soils for Better Crops, a flash drive with SARE information, as well as some other samplings of SD Local produce that were purchased to be included in the box (such as garlic, herbs & tea). 

The Local Food Conference also hosted SARE Farm Forum.

The 2nd Annual Lakota Food Summit was scheduled to be held in-person in August, 2021 but was cancelled due to COVID concerns. To support the program, we had agreed to a mini-grant. The event is re-scheduled for Feb 2022 and the new mini-grant will be provided to support the event.

Educational & Outreach Activities

10 Consultations
3 Minigrants
1 On-farm demonstrations
2 Online trainings
1 Tours
2 Travel Scholarships
15 Webinars / talks / presentations

Learning Outcomes

1299 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches

Project Outcomes

2 Grants received that built upon this project
5 New working collaborations

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

SD Soil Health Coalition Annual Conference (Virtual)

Dakota Fest, Mitchell, SD

Forage Field Day, Beresford,, SD

Local Foods Conference (Virtual)

Soil Health School, Mitchell, SD

 

60 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
20 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.