Cluster use of Whole-Farm Planning with Decision Cases and Evaluation
Our overall goal is to facilitate farmer decision-making in whole-farm planning, thus strengthening the agricultural system that supports small- and moderate-scale owner-operated farms. The scope of the project is contained within three objectives:
1) Farmers and ranchers will be empowered through training in whole-farm planning to manage site-specific farming and ranching methods in a holistic manner. During the first year 25 participants went through two, three-day Holistic Management (HM) training sessions. Out of this training a continuing education cluster evolved that has met on a monthly basis, moving from farm to farm.
2) Component farm planning tools will be evaluated for planning and monitoring effectiveness in different whole-farm planning situations. The only evaluation until now has been the HM training. Participants gave a high rating to the training. A four-month post-training evaluation showed continued energy for HM, but for those not involved in the cluster, the daily grind seems to overwhelm them. Additional tools will be evaluated during the second year of this project.
3) Decision cases will be developed by cluster participants for classroom and extension education. Three decision cases have been developed that look at farm management challenges different training participants encountered. One has not been used, but for the others, several on-farm class training sessions have resulted.
In the second round of training in 1999 we anticipate using participants from the first training to contribute to training sessions that will be held in six local communities.
Looking at the evaluation results and the cluster that has met since the training, impacts seem to come from the three “legs” of sustainability. Socially, those involved in cluster meetings have grown close together. Concern for community is deepened. Environmentally, as ecosystem process are better understood attempts are being made to make decisions that are more environmentally friendly. And financially, decisions are being made that are farm-profit focused and less production focused.
North Central Region SARE 1998 Annual Report
2002 E. 1600 Ave
Lawrence, KS 66044
Belgrade, MT 59714
Kansas State U