- Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, livestock breeding, manure management, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, rangeland/pasture management, stocking rate, stockpiled forages, winter forage
- Crop Production: agroforestry, beekeeping, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop improvement and selection, cropping systems, drought tolerance, fertilizers, forestry, forest/woodlot management, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, silvopasture, varieties and cultivars
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, risk management
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, wildlife
- Pest Management: chemical control, competition, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, precision herbicide use, prevention, weed ecology
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
- Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community development, leadership development
Over the last few years the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Prairie View Cooperative Extension and the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service have had an influx of new field personnel and agents. Many of these new employees have very little background in the sustainable production of forage, beef cattle, and other agriculture products. Additionally, a large number of new producers are entering the beef and forage industry, many of which have retired from other careers. This is an additional challenge for Extension and NRCS staff trying to provide information for producers with little or no agricultural background. The proposed training will provide Extension agents and NRCS professionals with the tools to better serve new agricultural producers.
Achieving sustainability in agricultural operations requires in-service training programs and encouraging multi-functional Extension and NRCS staff to collaborate for planning and implementing these programs. Encouragement of active participation by agents through hands-on field activities, open discussion of issues that impact agricultural and rural life, and field trips to view concepts presented in a real-world context ensure that educational goals are fulfilled and that active learning takes place.
Among the target population of Extension agents, over 95 percent have beef or forage as their primary plans of work. Additionally, soil and water conservation through the management of forage and livestock resources is a primary focus of NRCS professionals. Therefore, a train-the-trainer program that focuses on beef and forage production is critical.
To address this need, a 14-person committee, led by Extension has planned a 3-day training consisting of on-farm demonstrations, hands-on activities, and classroom time. The training will reach 15 recently hired NRCS and Extension employees. It will be conducted at 6 mentor farms in East Texas currently conducting innovative sustainable practices.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Increase the knowledge of NRCS field personnel, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents, and Prairie View Cooperative Extension Agents about successful sustainable farming practices.
- Increase the knowledge of NRCS field personnel, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents, and Prairie View Cooperative Extension Agents about state and federal agricultural programs available to farmers and ranchers.
- Provide the skills necessary for NRCS field personnel, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents, and Prairie View Cooperative Extension Agents to confidently educate and advise landowners interested in beginning or improving sustainable agricultural practices.
- Provide publications and other resource materials that have been developed through previous SARE funded projects as well as previous and current Extension and NRCS efforts.
- Provide the opportunity for networking among mentor farmers, NRCS field personnel, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agents, and Prairie View Cooperative Extension Agents.