Making the Conversion from Conventional to Sustainable Agriculture: A Videotape Series for Farmers

1988 Annual Report for LNC88-018

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1988: $20,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1990
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Jerald DeWitt
Iowa State University

Making the Conversion from Conventional to Sustainable Agriculture: A Videotape Series for Farmers


Farmers in the Midwest are currently faced with two problems: 1) environmental hazards to the
family and natural resources and 2) lingering financial difficulties. Farmers must learn to use
crop and livestock systems and agricultural inputs that maintain economic and social viability
while preserving high productivity and quality of natural resources. Many farmers in the
Midwest are ready to learn new practices and make the conversion from conventional to
sustainable agriculture. But to make this conversion, farmers need practical information about
technical aspects of the conversion process.

To address this need, the Iowa State University Cooperative Extension Service proposed to
develop and deliver 10 broadcast-quality videotapes focused on sustainable agricultural
practices. The video medium allows flexibility both in subject matter and in delivery systems.
They can be used in self-learning programs at home or other settings, used in open-air broadcasts
and satellite transmission, used to supplement teaching by the Extension Service, used by private
sector groups; and they can be placed in non-traditional outlets for checkout. These videotapes
will allow learners to see on-farm demonstrations of specific production and management
techniques in the conversion process, and hear experiences of farmers who have changed
farming practices.

1) Form a multi-state coordinating committee.
2) Develop five broadcast-quality videotapes, 25-28 minutes long.
3) Deliver the tapes to farmers in the Midwest and nationally.

Methods and Results:
The Low-Impact Sustainable Agriculture (LISA) series involved six programs covering the
following topics: 1) Soils, conservation a tillage; 2) Nutrient management; 3) Pest management;
4) Machinery management; 5) Livestock; and 6) Economics. A communications specialist was
hired to provide pre-production planning, script preparation, and a shooting schedule. An
interregional planning committee met in 1989 with representatives form three states along with
farmers who determined the selected topics. A specialist team was developed for each subject,
and farmer input/on-farm interviews were conducted.

Videotapes are available at each land grant university in the North Central Region for checkout.