Low-Input Agriculture and Cover Crop Workshop for Extension and Research Personnel from Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri
1) To inform participants and speakers of what information and resources are available on LISA
technologies, especially from the four-state area.
2) To provide an opportunity for participants to develop interdisciplinary networks for future
cooperation in programs, research, and grant proposals.
3) To provide an opportunity for participants to begin planning how the information presented
during the workshop will be used for future research and educational activities.
Methods and Results:
The principal coordinators met several times by phone and communicated by letter and
electronic mail to organize a four-state Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) workshop that
was held in St. Joseph, Missouri, from April 3-5, 1989. Approximately 10 interdisciplinnstrating and extending results.
Several on-farm research projects were conducted on participating farms. Research and
demonstration activities in conservation tillage have helped to accelerate a change toward
reduced primary land preparation and increased residue on the soil surface to help solve erosion
problems. A farmer-oriented demonstration/research project on nitrogen levels and alternative
cropping systems was implemented over a two years period. A new neighbor-to-neighbor
demonstration activity was initiated in 1989 to make conservation oriented practices on farms
more accessible to other interested farmers. Data from large, replicated plot trials in Nebraska
and Iowa were analyzed statistically and compared favorably with small plot research. A survey
was conducted of farmers' attitudes toward on-farm research and whether they would be willing
to participate in future activities of this type. Finally, an examination was done on the broader
information environment and how this is changing as a result of new communication
Approximately 225 responses to an opinion survey of Nebraska agricultural producers were
received. Nearly all farmers (approximately 90 percent) in the survey find university research
and resulting recommendation to be useful to their farms. Nevertheless, a large proportion (85
percent), prefer to see experiment station results tested on working farms before
recommendations are made. Most farmers insist that these plots be located within 30 miles of
their farms to be applicable to their farm conditions. When asked to indicate their willingness to
cooperate with university staff in conducting on-farm research, only 25 percent of Nebraska
producers were willing to cooperate. Forty-three percent said they would not be willing to
participate, usually commenting that it would be a hassle for them to find time for the special
work. Some of this resistance may be due to unfamiliarity with this on-farm research method. In
contrast, 66 percent of Iowa respondents who belong to the Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI)
expressed willingness to cooperate, and only 14 percent were unwilling. The PFI have been
using this technique for about three years, while it is virtually unknown in Nebraska.
Potential Contributions and Practical Applications:
There are a growing number of opportunities for researchers, extension specialists, farmers and
ranchers, and agribusiness to collaborate in information networks. Farmers are becoming
respected participants in the generation and dissemination of information. On-farm, internal
knowledge and experience are becoming a highly valued information commodity. At the same
time, external, off-farm information is being reviewed by producers through a filter of values.