- Agronomic: corn, peanuts, sorghum (milo), soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Animal Products: dairy
- Animal Production: housing, parasite control, feed additives, feed rations, grazing management, herbal medicines, homeopathy, mineral supplements, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, stocking rate, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, agricultural finance, risk management, value added, whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
- Pest Management: biological control, weed ecology
- Production Systems: transitioning to organic, agroecosystems, organic agriculture
- Soil Management: earthworms, green manures
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
One purpose of the proposal is to conduct an information exchange tour for organic groups in Arkansas and North Carolina to share information on organic dairy farming from each state so that the participants can determine the problems and possible solutions to enhance the efficiency and profitability of organic dairy farming in the southern region. The groups will be composed of 2-3 dairy farmers, 2-3 extension personnel, 1 NRCS or FSA agent, and 1 organic dairy industry representative from each state. The information collected on the tours will be used to plan the conferences in the next year. Emphasis of the exchange tours will be to find needs of farmers for organic dairy production, especially during the transition year, and to establish the characteristics of more successful producers. A list of products used on organic dairies will be collected and made available in the South. The second objective is to conduct two training conferences on organic dairying for professional educators in the South. The workshops will provide interactive problem solving exercises and hands-on learning with an organic dairy farm. Practices and concepts will include: an overview of the National Organic Program, preventive management for optimum livestock health, pasture management, soil fertility, weed control, and cropping rotations which maximize production, sustainability, nutrient management, and pest management. Emphasis will be placed on factors for successfully transitioning to and sustaining organic dairy production but will be applicable to transitioning other livestock farms. A follow-up survey will assess organic management practices adopted.
Project objectives from proposal:
Behavior-based Objectives: Concise list of project objectives, including desired changes in the behavior of those receiving training.
1. Conduct information exchange tours for eight people (2-3 dairy farmers, 2-3 extension personnel, 1 NRCS or FSA agent, and 1 organic dairy industry representative) related to organic dairy production in Arkansas and eight in North Carolina so that they can share problems and successes associated with organic dairy production. The information from the exchange trips and conferences should enhance the sustainability of the farmers and educators by making them more knowledgeable of proper and efficient use of resources on the dairies, especially feeding and pasture management, fertilizers for sound environmental management, organic treatment of diseases, and control of external and internal parasites.
2. Conduct organic dairy conferences in both Arkansas and North Carolina for a total of 80 students (40 at each site), e.g. extension specialists and agents, personnel from NRCS and FSA, veterinarians, and other organic industry contacts. Additionally, 12-15 speakers/helpers will attend each conference.
3. Of the 80 attending one of the two regional organic livestock workshops, 60 will become more knowledgeable of organic farming production methods and proven therapies and treatments. Additionally, 25 will reconvene by teleconference in January, 2010, to discuss case studies, on-farm experiences, and build on the new resources and information that was learned at the organic livestock health workshop, and 20 will actively engage in using at least 2 new management practices or complementary treatments with their clients.
4. Professional educators (Extension, NRCS, FSA, etc.) and farmers will be more knowledgeable of organic dairy farming in the South through (a) the distribution of 100 CDs of materials from the project and (b) the web site established to publicize the conferences and also make organic dairy information available to individuals throughout the southern region. The web site will be monitored for numbers of hits.
Evaluation: Description of evaluation methods to be used, indicating how the project process and project outcomes will be assessed.
We will conduct meetings with extensive minutes after the information exchange tours for organic groups in Arkansas and North Carolina to share information on organic dairy farming from each state. At the beginning of the meetings, personnel on the trip will be surveyed to see if they learned a new practice that they plan to adopt, if they thought the trips were beneficial, and what they thought were beneficial management practices learned from the trips. The discussion later will emphasize the problems and possible solutions to enhance the efficiency of organic dairy farming in the southern region. The group will be surveyed to establish the characteristics of the more successful producers. A composite report will
be made of recommendations for the transition to organic dairy production, the characteristics of successful producers, and a list of products and vendors. The report will be reviewed by the participants of the tour.
Additionally, the information exchange groups will be surveyed by email six months and 1 1/2 years later to determine what changes have taken place as a result of the project in management by farmers and in recommendations by educators. A phone survey will follow for all that do not respond to the email survey.
Both the personnel from the exchange trips and attendees of the conferences will be surveyed in January, 2010 to determine who has used the list of vendors and products on the conference web site. Number of hits on the web site will be monitored.
A pre-test and post-test of basic organic principles will be conducted at the organic dairy conferences. The test will be by the computerized Audience Response System which allows immediate feedback on responses from the audience.
A brief evaluation will be conducted daily at the conferences to rate speakers and topics on a scale from
1 to 5 (5=most beneficial). Additionally, space at the bottom of the form will be available for comments.
The conferences will qualify for continued education or in-service credits for veterinary professionals and extension agents. Evaluate by yes or no.
A follow-up survey of attendees of the conferences will be conducted by email or mail to determine if objectives of the grant were achieved. Of the 80 attending one of the two regional organic dairy workshops, 60 will become more knowledgeable of organic farming production methods and proven therapies and treatments. Additionally, 25 will reconvene by teleconference within a year to discuss case studies, on farm trials and build on the new resources and information that was learned at the organic livestock health workshop, and 20 of the 25 will actively engage in using at least 2 new management practices or complementary treatments with their clients.