Final report for WSP18-015
Because Utah is the 9th most densely urban, and the 2nd driest state in the nation, the Utah PDP Advisory Committee recognizes that our program must address these challenges to protect natural resources and human safety while enhancing the quality of life for our producers, particularly within specialty crops (13,600 acres valued at $33 million) and forage and rangelands (710,000 acres). Training efforts and travel awards are based on past crop surveys (conducted by our partner, the Utah IPM Program), past conference pre- and post-surveys, and input from the PDP Advisory Committee. There are four topics for this proposal: 1) Utah Urban and Small Farms Conference (“USFC”); 2) Professional Development Awards (“awards”); 3) UT/AZ Annual Range and Livestock Workshop (“range workshop”); and 4) Promotion of WSARE grants, publications, and services; and outreach in sustainable agriculture (“promotion and outreach”).
There are four objectives for this proposal:
1) Support the development and attendance of the Utah Urban and Small Farms Conference (“USFC”)
2) Provide Professional Development Travel and Event Hosting Awards (“awards”)
3) Support the UT/AZ Annual Range and Livestock Workshop (“range workshop”)
4) Promote WSARE grants, publications, and services; and conduct outreach in sustainable agriculture (“promotion and outreach”).
Utah is the 9th most densely urban and the 2nd driest state in the nation, and the Utah WSARE PDP Advisory Committee has helped this program to address these challenges to protect natural resources and human safety while enhancing the quality of life for our producers, particularly within specialty crops (13,600 acres valued at $33 million) and forage and rangelands (710,000 acres). The program has focused on development of two conferences, travel and event hosting awards, printing costs, and a small portion of the coordinator’s salary and PDP travel.
Utah’s program works in partnership with the IPM Program to meet common goals, sharing office space, web resources, and other common essential services. Funding for the travel and event scholarships is split with IPM, and no in-kind or matching funds are requested.
The Utah WSARE PDP Advisory Committee is comprised of three county extension agents, one fruit farmer, one vegetable farmer, and one representative from each of USDA-ARS, NRCS, Utah Farm Bureau, and Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF). The committee meets up to twice per year and approves the budget and proposed programming, and will review the travel scholarship submissions.
The Utah PDP emphasizes multiple modes of education, including face-to-face, written and online, and self-exploratory. The content for the workshops and conferences ranges from beginner to intermediate and consist of indoor presentations and where appropriate, hands-on activities or outdoor farm visits. The trainings also include complementary written materials and publications for attendees to review. The written and online training involves production and delivery of crop management guides and a subscription email service of seasonal, pertinent content. The self-exploratory education occurs through travel and event hosting scholarships, where agricultural producers attend or host professional development workshops to further their understanding of sustainable agriculture, and pass the information on to their constituents.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Train agricultural professionals and producers in sustainable agriculture practices at the Utah Urban and Small Farms Conference.
The Utah PDP Coordinator served on the planning committee for the annual Utah Urban and Small Farms Conferences held in Feb of 2019 and 2020. The conferences were attended by an average of 250 agricultural professionals and producers. In 2019, the PDP Coordinator organized a half-day advanced vegetable production track, and in 2020, organized a beginning fruit track. Also at each conference, the Coordinator was a speaker at two other tracks in each year, and held a booth at the 2-day trade show, highlighting SARE books and flyers, promoting Western SARE grants, and answering questions about SARE. The Utah PDP also provided registration assistance for 28 Extension faculty for each year.
At each of the annual Conferences, the Western SARE PDP taught and spoke with an average of 40 ag professionals in NRCS, Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food, USU Extension, researchers, non-profits, and others, and of average of 80 producers. In surveys that were delivered to attendees in the advanced vegetable and beginning fruit tracks in 2019 and 2020, on average, 82% of producers learned new skills or knowledge to help them farm more sustainably, and 53% of ag professionals felt that they could incorporate new knowledge learned into training for their constituents.
Provide professional development travel and event hosting awards.
The Utah WSARE PDP awarded two event-hosting scholarships, and three travel scholarships in 2019-20. The first educational event was entitled Farm and Ranch Succession Training, and the first event that was held December 2-4, 2019 was so successful that subsequent events were held in-person in fall 2020 (with social distancing and masks) and winter 2021. It was important to award this proposal because the average age of producers in Utah is 59, and baseline surveys revealed that producers feel that succession planning is one of the most important programmatic needs.
The second hosted event was a one-day soil health panel for all agricultural professionals (NRCS, state agencies, industry, private) held in February 2020, and attended by approximately 150. The purpose of the event was not only to share knowledge, but to get all professionals to work together on soil health issues.
The travel scholarships awarded in 2019 allowed for attendance at various conferences and professional tours. The first scholarship allowed for the presentation in June on Comparing Two Years of E. coli samples in Utah’s Fremont River at the “National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting / Professional Improvement Conference.” This participant learned about many topics, including how to collect feed and water samples to determine nutrient deficiencies. The second scholarship was given to an agricultural professional to attend training in September to learn about plant breeding, seed collecting, and seed saving. This person works in a highly urban area where there is a high demand for seed-saving efforts. The last award was for October attendance at the “Summit on the Management of Free-Roaming Equids,” where the participant, whose region has five overstocked wild horse management areas, learned about wild horse management policy and management updates, alternative management approaches, in particular on a landscape scale, and wild horse and wildlife interactions.
The travel and event-hosting scholarship reached 128 agricultural producers and 450 agricultural professionals.
Each of the three farm succession events were an intense A to Z training, attended by 17, 34, and 37 producers. Each producer received a workbook created by North Dakota State University, which allowed them to create their own unique plans pertaining to business, retirement, transition, and estate planning at a self-directed pace. The format offered significant financial savings to the farm or ranch producer and taught strategies for communication, preparedness, understanding roles, family meetings, and conflict management. All of the attendees reported a positive change in how they were going to approach farm and ranch succession planning and that they intend to use the knowledge in programming or practice.
The soil health panel was highly attended (150), and most attendees (95%) came away with an increased level of knowledge in soil health measurement and management. A big impact of the event was the formation of the Utah Soil Health Partnership, which is now a committee of over 15 multi-agency members focusing on soil health topics and outreach.
The participant who attended the professional improvement conference refined his skills in making mineral supplement recommendations for livestock based upon feed and water sample results. So far, he has used this knowledge to help approximately 26 producers in his region customize their livestock mineral supplement programs, improving livestock health.
The recipient of the seed-collecting and plant-breeding tour increased his knowledge about field sanitation and quarantining for plant breeding, seed harvest, storage, cultivar screening, seed purity, and hand pollination practices. The participant shared this knowledge with fellow agriculture professionals at the Utah Association of Agricultural Agents Winter 2020 meeting (attended by 28) and created a farmer course on seed-collecting and seed saving.
The participant of the wild horse summit interacted with over 93 different organizations, and found that most groups agreed on some management practices but that many of the groups had very different ideas on how to solve the problem. In August 2019, the participant trained 80 attendees (15 of which were agricultural professionals, including county commissioners) of the Utah Cattleman’s Summer Meeting and Commissioner on points that he learned at the Summit, and showed pictures and discussed problems the wild horses are causing in local regions.
Provide support for the Utah/Arizona Annual Range and Livestock Workshop
The PDP sponsored the conference proceedings for the Annual UT/AZ Range Livestock Workshop and Tour, which was held in April of 2019 and 2020. The 2019 and 2020 conferences were attended on average by 170 producers and 110 agricultural professionals. The Coordinator also spoke at the 2020 workshop on WSARE grants and resources.
Each year, the attendees to the Workshop and Tour are given a survey after the event. The summaries showed significant learning in all topics of the workshops, including watershed restoration, cattle nutritional management and relationship to vaccines, and profitable ranch management. Cumulatively, attendees (average of 290) indicated that they would share the information they learned with over 1,600 other people, and that what they learn is impacting the management of over 6,000 cows.
Promote WSARE grants, publications, and services, and conduct outreach in sustainable agriculture.
The Utah PDP Coordinator serves on the committee for the Utah Soil Health Partnership, which is a group run by the Utah Department and Agriculture and Food to bring together professionals for the goal of improving soil health. From this partnership, the Utah PDP Program supported the development of a soil health video, and presented at the soil health workshop mentioned above.
In order to provide online weather tools for agricultural professionals to help producers with irrigation scheduling, frost mitigation, and pest management, the WSARE PDP covered a portion of funds desperately needed to update weather stations on rangelands and in orchards. If not updated, data from the stations would be lost.
The PDP Program’s Spanish-speaking farming audience was served by the translation of seven Utah State University pest management fact sheets into Spanish in winter 2021, and then delivered to appropriate farms.
The Coordinator has promoted SARE publications and Western SARE grant opportunities at three grower meetings (105 producers and 4 professionals) and four Extension presentations, reaching 62 greenhouse growers, 45 vegetable producers, and 28 agricultural professionals. In addition, Western SARE was promoted through booth presence at two, multi-day trade shows in Utah, where an array of the major SARE publications were on display. One trade show reached over 500 general community members, and the other reached close to 175 commercial small farm producers.
The Soil Health Partnership has submitted two large grants to the NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants program (one declined and one in submission), and the video has been viewed by over 1,000.
The updates of the weather station prevented the loss of important data that is displayed online by a tool called Utah TRAPs (Temperature Resource and Alerts for Pests), used by over 350 producers for measuring soil moisture content (and determining irrigation needs), current temperatures (for frost mitigation), and degree days (for insect models and pest management decisions).
The Spanish-translation fact sheets have already been downloaded a total of 5,565 times.
A short survey submitted to participants of presentations or trade booths run by the PDP Coordinator revealed that 81% of agriculture professionals will be able to communicate to their own stakeholders about SARE educational products and that 35% will use SARE products in their own outreach activities. In addition, close to 100% improved their knowledge of SARE offerings, and of the Western SARE PDP Program.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
For face-to-face promotion of Western SARE grants and services, the State Coordinator has reached approximately 710 agricultural professionals and producers through five presentations and three grower meetings in 2019-20. The topics focused on integrated pest management to target audiences in forage crops (alfalfa, wheat), tree fruits (apple, peach, cherry), and vegetable production (onion, melon, lettuce greens, and more). In addition, the State Coordinator received multiple copies of the full SARE book and pamphlet packet and displayed and handed them out at three larger events, including the Utah State Horticultural Association Annual Convention, attended by 76 fruit growers, a greenhouse trade show that reached over 500 general community members, and the Urban and Small Farms trade shows, which reached on average 250 commercial small farm producers and agricultural professionals. The coordinator has also promoted WSARE grants in emails to community mailing lists, the Utah Pests Facebook page, and through a quarterly newsletter delivered to over 9,000 individuals in Utah.