Training in Size Appropriate Technology for Hill Farmers

2000 Annual Report for ES00-048

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2000: $84,686.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Betty King
University of Kentucky

Training in Size Appropriate Technology for Hill Farmers


1. To train Extension agents, small farm assistants, and farmers to utilize effective, size appropriate equipment for hill farm enterprises.
2. To develop useful case study examples for small and part-time farm enterprises.
3. To increase the knowledge and awareness level of farmers and Extension agents of safe, low cost size appropriate technology with integrated farming systems.
4. To evaluate size appropriate technology for profitability and for enhancing labor activities, and for use in diversifying small hill farm operations.
5. To disseminate lessons learned from the training program.

Many farms are over-mechanized or the equipment is inappropriately sized for hill farming. The Training in Size Appropriate Technology for Hill Farmers Project seeks to address the education and enterprise development needs of small-scale, hill farmers many of who are part-time farmers and women farmers. The primary objective is to provide hands-on training and participatory problem-solving approaches with participants to develop effective production systems using an integrated or whole farm systems approach that incorporates low-cost, size appropriate technology. For example, the use of the smaller equipment such as walking tractors, mini-hay balers, solar water and fencing, and portable sawmills will be explored. Additional goals include forming community partnerships that support farming enterprises, and broadening Extension agent perspectives towards how “the economy of scale” and “hill farms” are defined with regards to farm sustainability.

The primary target audience for this “train the trainer” program is Kentucky Extension agents, small farm assistants, and farmers. Outreach training is planned for Extension agents and farmers in the southern region. Our primary training group has been pre-selected and consists of 6 to 8 training groups of Extension agents, small farm assistants, and farmers. These primary training groups were selected based on need, a farming context for setting up the training program, and the willingness to participate in the project. Our outreach training for the southern region will be conducted through multi-state small farm field days at Kentucky State Research Farm, Berea College, Quicksand Experiment Station, and at an Alternative Agriculture field jointly sponsored by the University of Kentucky and the University of Tennessee Extension Services. A training guide, descriptive cases studies, and audio-visual training materials will be available through ATTRA, and the SAWG annual meeting. The results of the training program will provide practical examples for small-scale hill farms. Many Extension agents and farmers have not seen or have had personal experiences with size-appropriate technology. The success of many small and part-time farmers depends on how well they integrate their whole farming system.

Training activities will include hands-on use of the size appropriate technology and equipment in real life farming contexts. Extension agents, farmers, and small-farm assistants will be used to evaluate and to assess the use of size appropriate equipment and technology on hill farms.

Extension Agents and farmers are frustrated because of a financial crisis in farming. They are looking for alternative approaches that maximize the utilization of resources. They are looking for sensible, sustainable ways for diversification to enhance farm income. In the April l998 issue of Sustainable Agriculture Trainer, quotes from the Memphis SSAWG conference participant suggest the need for small-scale, low cost farm education programs. The participant wrote: “Please develop more examples of small-scale, limited resource farms”. More recently, thirty-two women gathered for a roundtable discussions at the Kentucky Women and Agriculture conference to talk about their equipment needs. They cited the need for practical and safe size-appropriate equipment for their operations. This training project will provide useful small-scale case study examples in forage and livestock production, vegetable, herb, and woodland harvesting that many Kentucky Extension agents and farmers, as well as other southern Extension agents, will find useful in assisting hill farmers, women, and part-time farmers.


Larry Swartz

[email protected]
Program Assistant
507 Garrigus Bldg.
University of KY
Lexington, Ky 40546
Office Phone: 8592573404