Development of a Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet and Establishment of Distance Education Program for Training CES and NRCS Personnel to Work with Dairy Farmers

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1999: $54,621.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
Principal Investigator:
Ann Wells
National Center for Appropriate Technology

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, parasite control, feed formulation, feed rations, free-range, manure management, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: indicators
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, sustainability measures


    In this integrated management systems training project, NCAT/ATTRA has collaborated with personnel within the Arkansas CES, NRCS, farmers and the University of TN Middle TN Experiment Station. The goal is to train educators and key producers through an interactive partnership designed to share and improve skills and resources useful in monitoring sustainability and making recommendations for farms primarily involved in dairy production. The group has developed a sustainable dairy farm checksheet. The checksheet has been taken to seven farms for testing, five in Arkansas and two in Tennessee. A group of University of Arkansas CES has traveled to the Middle TN Experiment Station for training on the checksheet and to see their grazing dairy operation and how it contrasts with the conventional confinement operation. The checksheet has also been used as an agenda for a Sustainable Dairy Workshop held at the Middle Tennessee Experiment Station. It is now available through the ATTRA project and plans are in the works for an update. A listserv has also been created for interested dairy people. Videos taken of grass-based dairies are being incorporated into a website. That work is ongoing.

    Project objectives:

    Through the design, evaluation and subsequent use of a dairy farm sustainability checksheet, educators and producers will learn what to consider in assessing a dairy farm (cattle, sheep or goats) with an emphasis on whole farm planning and forage systems.

    Through the use of well-planned demonstrations, farm visits and workshop attendance, educators and farmers will learn the complex (biological, financial and social) interrelationships that must be considered in order to increase the sustainability of family dairy farms.

    Through training in the use of distance learning techniques, 50 educators and producers will learn an appropriate technology they can use on their farms and in future programs that will save time and money.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.