Increasing Producer Adoption of Pasture as Part of a Whole Farm System

1998 Annual Report for ENE98-041

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $30,393.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Edward Harwood
Cornell University Cooperative Extension

Increasing Producer Adoption of Pasture as Part of a Whole Farm System


This project produced a 30-minute video describing the benefits of well-managed pasture in a diversified livestock operation. The primary objective to increase awareness among agricultural professionals of how the use of intensive rotational pasture can fit into a diversified livestock operation. One hundred copies of this video have been distributed to Natural Resource Conservationists, pasture advocates, consultants and Cooperative Extension agents around New York State and the Northeast. In addition to the video, 300 copies of a 20-page pasture catalogue have been printed and will be distributed to those people who view the video and return the self mailed post card. This catalogue lists all Cornell Cooperative Extension offices, NRCS, and SWCD phone numbers. Twenty-nine comprehensive books and manuals, nine conferences and workshop proceedings, thirteen periodicals, publications and newsletters, twenty-five Internet sources, fourteen organizations, and six audio-video resources are listed as part of the catalogue. We also expect this catalogue to be added to our NWNY Team web site ( within the next six months. We will also be updating the catalogue when new resources become available.

1. Improve the education of USDA staff, soil and water conservation staff, and extension agents in order to increase the awareness of dairy and livestock producers about the value of well-managed pasture in a diversified livestock operation.

2. Increase the number of dairy and livestock producers who adopt the use of pasture into a whole farm planning system.

3. Create a professional video and resource packet to increase awareness of USDA staff, soil and water conservation staff, extension agents, and dairy and livestock producers to the value of well-managed pasture in diversified livestock operations.

Results to date:
The video and a related catalog of resources were produced, and are now being distributed to Extension specialists, NRCS and other USDA field staff, and pasture-related organizations.
The video covers many areas of interest to the potential grazer and emphasizes that there are many ways to adapt the concept to meet the needs of the individual farm. Seven farms are highlighted in the video, including a small organic dairy farm, both large and small traditional dairy farms, a 200-head cow/calf beef operation and the Cornell beef and sheep research farm. In addition, Dr. Jerry Cherney, of Cornell University, highlights current research and grass varieties and the compatibility of pasture and whole farm nutrient planning. Carl Crispell, a consultant, presents results from the New York State Dairy Farm Business Summary for Intensive Grazing Dairy Farms.
The catalog lists books, newsletters, organizations, consultants, websites and research relevant to starting and improving pasture-based livestock operations. It is sent to people who have requested it via a postcard enclosed with each video. The project team will use the mailing list created by the return of the video to see how many people viewed it, how many requested the catalog and ultimately how many made a change in their farm operation based on the information they received. Project participants also plan to conduct a phone survey of agencies that used the video to assess impact.
Reported December, 1999

Measured impact of the project will not be known until after our first survey sometime this summer. Additionally, collection of post card surveys will enable us to build a database of pasture contacts and follow-up for future impact as to how many people viewed the video, what they thought of the video, and what they expect to do as a result of viewing the video. This database will also help to focus educational efforts to a specific self-defined audience for extension programming in MIG. In addition, as stated in the project grant proposal, a telephone and mail-in survey of distributors and users will be accomplished within the year to see if we reached our objectives.

Recommendations for Future Professional Development Efforts.
It has been identified through personal communication with many agency people regarding the lack of understanding on the applicability of pasture for many different types of dairy and livestock operations. The availability of this video has allowed the project collaborators to share their own knowledge and understanding of pasture with others that could be potential distributors. There is a continual need for updated pasture nutrition and pasture production recommendations for high producing dairy and livestock herds.