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

2001 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

A survey was conducted to uncover and assess educational needs that, when met, will enable owners of small farms to develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs). Three hundred and seventy-four surveys represented responses from farms of all sizes and types of operation, those with and without livestock; surveys by owners of small farm businesses with livestock totaled 271.

Some of the least frequently implemented practices noted by respondents were sampling and analyzing manure at 7 percent; use of pre-sidedress nitrogen tests at 11 percent; manure and field equipment calibration at 18 percent; and presence of a neighbor relations plan at 20 percent. These results suggest that currently some key CNMP component areas are not widely practiced by owners of small farms.

The NWNY Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Team, with a newly hired small farms specialist, will develop local regional meetings to meet the needs of owners of small farms with regards to developing CNMPs.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Objectives/Performance Targets:

1. Uncover obstacles and assess educational needs that will enable owners of small farms to develop and implement comprehensive nutrient management plans.

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

Accomplishments/Milestones

The 12-member task force of small farm owners continued to serve as a guide for distributing and gathering surveys, giving recommendations from the survey summary, and identifying target extension programs related to comprehensive nutrient management planning.

Completed surveys returned total 374. This total includes farms of all sizes and types of operation, including those with and without livestock. Surveys completed by owners of small farm businesses with livestock total 271 and provide the basis of a forth-coming extension bulletin.

A little more than 70 percent of respondents from small farms indicated that they sampled soils at least every three years. Regarding feed management, 58 percent and 53 percent of respondents indicated that they balanced rations and tested forages, respectively. Some of the least frequently implemented practices noted by respondents were sampling and analyzing manure at 7 percent; use of pre side-dress nitrogen tests at 11 percent; manure and field equipment calibration at 18 percent; and presence of a neighbor relations plan at 20 percent. About 40 percent of respondents indicated keeping a field-by-field record system or prioritizing fields for manure application based upon runoff potential. These results suggest that currently some key CNMP component areas are not widely practiced by owners of small farms.

Survey results show that 70 percent of the owners of small farms indicated that they needed information, while roughly 50 percent indicated that they needed better skills or technical expertise. Owners of small farm businesses indicated needing skills in manure sampling, record keeping, manure storage and handling design and installation, soil sampling, equipment calibration, and determining proper timing and location of manure applications. These results suggest skill areas on which educational activities should focus.

Nearly 70 percent of respondents agreed that time available to spend away from the farm is the most limiting factor for attending meetings. About 22 percent indicated that they had less than 2 hours available to spend away from the farm, while about 37 percent indicated that they had between 2 to 4 hours available.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

A permanent, full-time small farms specialist position with the NWNY team has been established. The position has been filled and the new specialist will be starting January 4, 2002.

Regarding preferred delivery methods, results suggest that a series of one-and-a-half hour discussions held locally should receive emphasis initially. Results also suggest that home study courses and videotapes are methods that owners might effectively use to enhance skills and build capacity. The small farms specialist, along with the entire NWNY team, will develop regional discussion meetings over the winter of 2001-2002 and the spring 2002 to address the needs as outlined in the survey results.

Efforts are underway to report results from the survey with implications for Cooperative Extension programming in an extension bulletin. Information should be useful to owners of small farms, agri-service personnel, extension personnel, and other cooperating agencies as they work to enhance producers’ capacity to develop and implement CNMPs.

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/