- Agronomic: corn, cotton, grass (misc. perennial), hay, sorghum (milo), wheat
- Animals: bovine, sheep
- Animal Production: grazing management, pasture fertility
- Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: social capital
As the second largest agricultural production state in the U.S., Texas has one of the lowest percentages of acres under adoption of sustainable and/or conservation agricultural practices as compared to other states. There is currently no comprehensive and organized program to address the need for increasing adoption of such practices, which include optimizing nutrient management, reducing tillage, and incorporating cover crops into food and fiber production systems.
The ultimate goal of this project is to markedly increase the percentage of acres under sustainable and/or conservation practices by easing the pathway to success for farmers considering transition by providing better training to field operatives.
This proposal suggests that the input of farmers from each of the major eco-regions in the state of Texas is crucial for designing and for delivering the content of the training program. Furthermore, representatives engaged in extension style work for Texas A&M Extension service, Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension Program, and USDA-NRCS at the local levels must be trained to assess local producers' motivations and risk attitudes. These local agents must be able to react to those assessments according to their training, and then to tailor messages to their local producers that result in the gradual increase of adoption of locally relevant conservation and/or sustainable agricultural practices.
There is currently no comprehensive training program, nor any source of relevant statewide information that can serve to even begin to achieve such an ambitious goal for Texas' soil conservation and agricultural sustainability needs. By aligning the training programs of the land grant Extension and NRCS services, and orienting that program towards locally relevant information to drive adoption of conservation/sustainable practices, the expectations for favorable outcomes is much higher than that of a more monolithic national or homogenous statewide approaches. By including regionally derived research, training program recipients will be better prepared to react to local concerns with scientifically based recommendations with higher success rates. Attention to and respect for local attitudes and realities, both social and environmental, is key to driving adoption of conservation agricultural practices for the protection of our soil, water and other natural resources. Armed with the confidence to provide such relevant assistance, local field agents will be teh drivers for increasing successful adoption rates.
This project proposes to address the identified need through the following objectives:
- Updating and compiling all applicable research in the state regarding conservation and sustainable agricultural practices;
- Publication of research from (1) into a technical monograph in hardcopy and as online available format; and
- Development and implementation of a training program for CEAs, NRCS, and mentor farmers.