- Education and Training: general education and training
To assist farmers and their advisors in making profitable decisions on adopting and managing grazing systems, a core group of 60 trainers including VA, WV, and NC extension agents, specialists, and graduate students, SWCD, and NRCS staff were trained in 2001-03. These trainees served as local Pasture Land Management System (PLMS) trainers to reach end-users and provide a feedback loop to the development team. Feedback from each of these groups was used to modify and assist in improving the methods used and the user interface for inputting data and reporting on alternative grazing scenarios. Two articles were published on PLMS: 1) Journal of Extension, and 2) proceedings of the XX International Grassland Congress, Ireland. Additional funding was obtained to continue the development of PLMS and expand the functionality to a broader range of farmers and service providers in the Mid-Atlantic region.
The PLMS software and training materials can be downloaded at http://clic.cses.vt.edu/PLMS/index.html
AAEC Department, Mail Code 0401
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Objectives of the project were for 250 farmers and service providers in VA, NC, and WV to gain knowledge of the farm-level complexities of managing the plant-animal-soil environment and to assist in implementing a grazing plan. In the fall of 2002 survey of the 50 individuals trained to use PLMS in 2001 and 2002, trainees reported they had demonstrated or used PLMS with more than 100 farmers. We have not updated this information, yet it is reasonable to expect that these objectives were met. In addition, more than 40 copies of PLMS were disturbed to interested agronomists at the 2004 American Agronomy meetings.
For 12 farmers to independently use PLMS to implement MIG on their farm. We have provided access to PLMS software for a number of service providers via the web site and with copies of the software on a CD. In addition, undergraduate students have received information on PLMS, and 5 have requested copies to use on their home farms.
The behavior-based objectives will be supported with the following educational tools and support network brought about by PLMS training:
PLMS users’ guides, case studies, and instructional materials for beef and dairy farms representative of the geographic diversity of the region. These have been posted on the PLMS web site http://clic.cses.vt.edu/PLMS/training/index.html.
A PLMS Internet site and threaded discussion groups for ongoing PLMS support/updates. Information PLMS, support, and updates are posted at the following web site http://clic.cses.vt.edu/PLMS/download/download.html. Any additional information about PLMS is posted on the web site to update users.
Improved cooperation and understanding between service providers working with grassland agriculture and environmental and economic impacts of grassland production. NRCS, SWCD, extension and university personnel in VA, NC, and WV continue to cooperate on development of PLMS, other research projects, and educational programs focused on grassland agriculture.