Training in production and utilization of composted waste materials in warm, humid climates to improve soils for horticultural cropping systems
Compost is a dynamic system, therefore making recommendations for its use is more complicated than standard fertilizer. The lack of knowledge by agricultural professionals, results in failure to use composts also mistakes and problems with compost production and use, such as the utilization of immature compost. Extension agents, NRCS conservationists, compost producers, and trainer farmers will be able to teach composting principles and promote the improvement of soil physical, chemical and biological properties by the correct use of composts. Personal interaction between members of the agricultural and composting communities of Florida: the University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences(IFAS), the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Organic Growers (FOG), Florida Organic Recycling Association (FORA), Florida A&M University (FAMU), NRCS, FSA, and farmers will help to promote compost production and use. A planning meeting and two compost training programs will be held. Each training session will accommodate 25 people and will last 2 days. During the “hands-on” sessions, participants will apply the concepts they have learned by mixing feedstocks, sampling composts, and using field tests for compost quality. Agricultural professionals who complete the training will be able to teach composting principles and promote the improvement of soil physical, chemical and biological properties by the correct use of composts. To evaluate the effectiveness of the training, pre and post-tests will be administered before and after the training program. Additionally, the trainees will be personally contacted 2-3 months after the training sessions to evaluate their input and their needs to continue compost production, use, and education.
1. Agricultural professionals and compost producers who participate will be able to teach composting principles and promote the improvement of soil physical, chemical and biological properties by the correct use of composts. Our goals are:
• 50% of farmer participants will begin making compost and 100% of farmer participants will begin using compost from local sources.
• Extension agents should present at least one program on compost production or use or set up at least one results demonstration using compost in the year following the training.
• NRCS conservationists will assist at least one farmer with compost production or use during the year following the training.
• FSA professionals will be able to analyze applications of farmers who need help with funding for composting facilities or who wish to use it on their crops.
• Compost producer participants should raise the quality of their compost by using proper testing methods.
2. Personal interaction between representatives of the diverse communities will increase communication and strengthen their working relationships to expand the use of compost as an element of sustainable production systems. For instance, a trainer farmer who wishes to begin composting at her farm or help a neighbor to use compost, will now know that she can contact FORA members for information on availability of compost feedstocks and Cooperative Extension for information on testing and using the compost.
A planning meeting was held in November 2001. A total of 9 people attended the meeting representing diverse communities: University of Florida-Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Florida Organic Recycling Association (FORA), NRCS, and commercial Florida farmers. An interesting consensus emerged from our discussions. The original agenda was changed to include more lectures in why and how to use compost. Therefore, 4 hours of lectures will cover these topics. Additionally, a brochure was developed to invite the different communities to the compost training.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
It is early to cover the impacts and contributions of the training, but more than 50 people express interest in attending to the training.
Florida A&M University
202-E Perry-Paige Building South
Tallahassee, FL 32307
Office Phone: 8505993546
University of Florida/SWFREC
2686 State Rd. 29 North
Immokalee, FL 34142-9515
Office Phone: 9416583400