Alternative Information Networking to Support Sustainable Agriculture on Small Farms

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $32,950.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
John Ikerd
University of Missouri Columbia

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, corn, cotton, flax, hops, millet, oats, peanuts, potatoes, rapeseed, rice, rye, safflower, soybeans, spelt, sugarbeets, sugarcane, sunflower, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), cherries, berries (cranberries), grapes, melons, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, rutabagas, sweet corn, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: tobacco, herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, goats, rabbits, sheep, swine, fish, ratite, shellfish
  • Animal Products: dairy
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, animal protection and health, feed additives, feed formulation, feed rations, free-range, herbal medicines, homeopathy, implants, inoculants, manure management, mineral supplements, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, probiotics, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, vaccines, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, feasibility study, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, hedges - grass, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, competition, compost extracts, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, flame, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mating disruption, physical control, mulching - plastic, precision herbicide use, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, soil solarization, trap crops, traps, mulching - vegetative, weather monitoring, weed ecology, weeder geese/poultry
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, agroecosystems, holistic management, permaculture
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships, public participation, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, community services, employment opportunities, social capital, social networks, social psychological indicators, sustainability measures


    This four-state program gave Extension Agents, Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel, and other information providers in the North Central SARE region quick and easy access to a full range of sustainable agriculture resources through development of the Sustainable Small Farm Information Network (SSFIN). SSFIN consists of members of the North Central Region Small Farm Task Force who are continuing to develop an internet site that catalogs small farm information from their corresponding states.

    Small farm families clearly need this information so they can explore alternatives to traditional enterprises and ways to fit new alternatives into sustainable whole-farm systems. The 1997 USDA Small Farms Commission hearings confirmed that traditional agricultural extension programs are not meeting the needs of small farmers. This program will continue to help information providers supply families on small farms with the most effective alternative agriculture information and education programs available.

    Project objectives:

    The overall goal of this program is to provide quick and easy access to the resources extension agents and other information providers need to provide families on small farms with the most effective sustainable agriculture information and programs.

    1) To develop a North Central Sustainable Small Farm Information Network (NC-SSFIN) that gives every extension worker and information providers in the region quick and easy access to the full range of sustainable agriculture resources available for small farm families

    2) To develop prototype information resources that will be used by the network, including an up-to-date and easy-to-use Sustainable Agriculture resource Guide that lists organizations, educational opportunities, and grants that support non-traditional farm enterprises and sustainable agriculture strategies that are of particular value to small farm families.

    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.