Decision Enabling Data Collection and Management Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2004: $100,081.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Tom McConnell
West Virginia University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: goats, sheep


  • Farm Business Management: economic/marketing

    Proposal abstract:

    Our team of extension agents and farmers will through training, mentoring, and organizing lead sixty farm families to a point where thirty of them will be making informed, sound, and timely day-to-day and long range management decisions because their financial and production data are accurate, current, and readily available. This will be possible because they will possess the skills required to collect and analyze this information in the field using a hand held computer technology supported with useful and simple, locally developed software. Second, we will convert this record keeping protocol, as well as, our technique of training and mentoring, into a ten-lesson curriculum to train other educators and farmers. The pilot group, each equipped with hand held computers will begin the task of designing a data collection and management protocol suitable for farmers involved in many different enterprises and geographical areas. The producers will explain their record keeping needs and requirements while the extension members convert that information into a useful teachable collection of software templates (many templates developed by our extension team are ready or far along) and techniques based on the principals of sound financial management and farmer convenience and efficiency. The pilot group has been functioning for many months. Next we will recruit 60 farmer trainees (20 each from the areas represented by the county agents on the pilot) to form three larger groups consisting of both pilot members and new farmer trainees. This will mark the beginning of a farm management club for each area. At this point each farmer recruit will be encouraged to purchase a hand held computers (our pilot group members are using Dell Axims) and begin to integrate it into his or her daily routines, while the management club serves the mentoring role. The training techniques and the software products will be packaged into lesson plans to teach more farmers. The key components in sequence (with some tolerance) include equipping a team of farmers and county agents each with a Dell Axim to begin to learn the techniques, possibilities, and problems associated with “mobile” record keeping and analysis. Listen to the farmers to determine what software needs they have, they need, and what they will use. Develop the requested software in a format that is convenient and financially sound, for example building spreadsheets to determine the cost per pound of production or the yield per square. Next develop lesson plans and training pieces that help the members learn how to communicate, organize their records, and use the many software programs and the systems necessary to actually help them master this technology, as well as, help team members keep up and new members catch up. Enlarge the county groups to 15 to 20 members with a goal of 6 county groups.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Thirty farmers will be making informed and timely, day-to-day and long range management decisions because their financial and production data are accurate and current as they have the ability to both collect and analyze this information in the field using a hand held computer. And second, the record keeping protocol that emerges from this program, as well as, a ten-lesson curriculum that allows other educators to teach it to more farmers, will be packaged and made ready for distribution in September 2007.

    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.