Comprehensive Nutrient Management on Small Farms: Determining Obstacles – Implications for Extension Education Activities

1999 Annual Report for LNE99-126

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 1999: $18,243.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $5,234.00
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Dr. Quirine Ketterings
Cornell University

Comprehensive Nutrient Management on Small Farms: Determining Obstacles – Implications for Extension Education Activities

Summary

Summary
A survey was conducted to uncover obstacles and assess educational needs to enable owners of small farms to develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs). Sixty-nine percent (n=240) indicated that they would like more information regarding the development of CNMPs. Sixty-six percent of the farms indicated that time away from the farm is the most limiting factor for attending meetings. The top three responses for educational activity preference were local meetings, videotapes of speakers, and home study courses. As a result of the survey, a small farm specialist has been hired to develop a small farm program reflecting the recommendations of the survey and the small farm task force.

Objectives
Uncover obstacles and assess educational needs that will enable owners of small farms to develop and CNMPs.

Develop recommendations for future extension programs that address needs and use educational media best suited to owners of small farms.

Approach

A 12-member task force of small farm owners provided input to the creation of the small farm survey. Task force membership included producers and agriservice representatives from the nine counties served by the Northwestern New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Team. A summer assistant was hired to visit small farm owners and prepare a survey mail campaign; over 1700 surveys were mailed or handed out to owners of small dairy and livestock farms. The survey identified educational methods that will enable owners of small farms to develop and implement CNMPs.

In addition to the survey, six people participated in the Second National Small Farm Conference in October 1999. The conference provided attendees with opportunities to share ideas and examine innovative approaches to small farm programming. Information gleaned from the Second National Small Farm Conference will be used in combination with results from the survey to develop recommendations for future extension programs addressing CNMP needs of small farms.

Results
Over 350 surveys have been tabulated to date. The surveys indicate that more than half the producers surveyed store manure. Of these that do, 72 percent do so for periods longer than three months and 37 percent do so for periods longer than six months. Thus far, 74 percent of respondents to the survey indicated that they soil test; 70 percent of these do so at least every three years. Only 16 percent of farms surveyed claimed to use pre-sidedress nitrogen tests on their cornfields. Of the producers surveyed, 69 percent indicated that they would need more information about developing and implementing CNMPs, 61 percent requested more information about nutrient management and 57 percent indicated that the most preferred means of information delivery was written materials. Sixty-six percent indicated that they had less than four hours each day for travel and education.

Impacts and Potential Contributions
The Northwestern New York Dairy, Livestock, and Field Crops Program has hired a small farm specialist (funded by three different grant sources) to develop education materials recommended through results of the survey. In addition, two other grant proposals are being written to support action related to the small farm task force’s recommendations. Results of the survey suggest that owners of small farms desire more information on CNMPs. Specific information on new technology and development of plans are key areas for education. Time limitations faced by owners of small farm businesses and their educational media preferences are quite different when compared to current audiences and delivery methods for extension programs. More self-directed educational media and the development of small farm owner discussion groups must be implemented. Results of the survey have been requested by extension professionals across the state and will be provided via e-mail. Discussions that seek to improve the educational opportunities for owners of small farms will continue, guided by the results of the survey.

Reported November 2000

Collaborators:

John Hanchar

jjh6@cornell.edu
Area Extension Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension – NWNY Team
158 South Main Strret
Mt. Morris, NY 14510
Office Phone: 5856583250
Website: http://www.cce.cornell.edu/programs/nw-ny-dairy-fieldcrops/
Martha Wright

maw32@cornell.edu
Area Extension Educator
Cornell Cooperative Extension – NWNY Team
480 North Main Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Office Phone: 5853943977
Website: http://www.cce.cornell.edu/programs/nw-ny-dairy-fieldcrops/