- Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
- Crop Production: foliar feeding, irrigation, nutrient cycling, organic fertilizers, application rate management
- Education and Training: extension, workshop
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, agricultural finance, value added
- Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, indicators
- Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, precision herbicide use, prevention, sanitation, trap crops, traps, weed ecology
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: organic matter
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures
This project will move the nursery industry towards sustainability by training Extension agents and specialists in the area of sustainable nursery production methods. Conventional nursery production relies heavily on use of plastic containers, chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and imported substrate ("potting soil") components. A team lead by University of Florida faculty will instruct Georgia and Florida Extension agents on topics related to sustainable nursery practices that reduce the aforementioned production inputs. Other team members are a sustainable nursery producer, faculty from the University of Georgia, and two faculty from the 1890 institution, Florida A&M University. Our team will develop resources and provide a curriculum for county Extension faculty to train existing and prospective nursery producers ("farmers"). An advisory committee of existing nursery producers ("farmers") will assist in developing and revising resources and curriculum to result in effective, "real-world" tools for county Extension faculty and their clientele. Evaluation instruments will be used immediately after county Extension training and again 6 months later to revise and refine the resources and curriculum. The completed curriculum and resources will be available nationwide from a website and from the Virtual Field Day webpage. The objective of this project is to convince existing and prospective nursery producers to adopt sustainable nursery production practices as outlined in the resources and curriculum generated by this grant. The long-term goal of this project is to enhance the environmental sustainability of nursery production while maintaining economic sustainability.
Project objectives from proposal:
The long-term goal of this project is to enhance the environmental sustainability of nursery production while maintaining economic sustainability. To achieve this goal, our objectives are for Extension agents and other service providers to (1) understand the components of sustainable nursery production as well as the business practices necessary for economic viability, and (2) gain confidence in the applicability of the knowledge and their ability to carry out sustainable nursery production.
To accomplish these objectives, we will instruct county Extension faculty on topics related to sustainable nursery practices and develop resources and a curriculum for county Extension faculty to train existing and prospective nursery producers ("farmers"). This curriculum and resources will include activities involving each of the four basic learning processes: thinking, reflecting, experiencing and doing (Kolb, 1999). Inclusion of these four learning styles will assure us that all participants will be able to relate to content. As much as possible, experiential or discovery-based activities will be incorporated, since it is likely many growers will most closely learn via this mechanism.
An advisory committee of existing nursery producers ("farmers") will assist in developing and revising resources and curriculum. Involvement of these nursery producers (the ultimate audience) will result in our development of effective, "real-world" tools for county Extension faculty and their clientele. Evaluation instruments will be used pre-test and post-test (immediately after county Extension training and again 6 months later) to revise and refine the resources and curriculum.
Extension agents, in turn, will convey this to nursery producers and convince existing and potential nursery producers to adopt sustainable nursery production and business practices as outlined in the resources and curriculum generated by this grant. Extension agents will conduct nursery producer training programs about sustainable nursery production. As part of the strategy for obtaining "buy-in" from nursery producers, Extension agents will seek to develop sustainable production demonstration projects on nurseries (i.e., "on-farm demonstration projects"). In addition, they will incorporate components from sustainable nursery training program into newsletters and websites.
This training will be effective because 1) Extension is valued by nursery producers as a science-based, unbiased source of information, 2) county Extension agents are recognized by nursery producers as locally trusted facilitators to whom nursery producers already turn to for help with production issues, 3) training materials will use, as much as possible, activities to facilitate discovery-based learning by nursery producers, a mechanism often best suited for producer audiences, 4) on-line availability of curriculum, resource materials and video modules result in timely and easy access of information and tools by Extension agents and nursery producers, 5) training materials include components of marketing and business analysis, aspects vital to the economic success of nursery producers, 6) the collaboration with a "sustainable nursery producer" and the input provided by a team of nursery producers will assure that resulting training materials address nursery producer-producer issues and provide answers in the forms most readily adopted by nursery producers.
Adoption of sustainable nursery production practices will promote financially sustainable businesses using environmentally sound agricultural practices. Marketing and/or cost advantages of sustainable production techniques may allow smaller nursery producers to effectively compete with larger producers that use conventional, synthetic components and economies of scale as their primary means of nursery production and business success.