- Agronomic: canola, rapeseed, rye
- Vegetables: sweet potatoes
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
- Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting, mulches - killed
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, soil physics
Many barriers to adoption of sustainable production systems have been reported in the southern region, but the fact that there is only one sustainable/organic sweetpotato farmer in Mississippi suggests little or no real incentive to adopt sustainable systems. Developing low-cost sustainable/organic sweetpotato production systems adapted to the southern region would promote adoption with a positive impact in the region’s sustainability, but benefiting primarily small and medium scale farmers of limited resources. This will be of considerable proportions since the southern region produces 77% of the national sweetpotato production valued at $373 millions. The purpose of this project is to review and develop low-cost sustainable sweetpotato production strategies to facilitate adoption of sustainable/organic production systems. Three objectives are proposed in this project. 1) Evaluate sustainable ground management strategies (cover crops and conservational tillage) to improve sweetpotato production in a sustainable production system. 2) Develop sweetpotato planting strategies including planting method and type of planting material to increase production efficiency and reduce costs. 3) Promote adoption of sustainable sweetpotato production systems through farmer participation in on-farm research and demonstrations trials, workshops and publications. Trials will be conducted at Mississippi State University – Pontotoc and on-farm studies in Mississippi and Arkansas. For objective 1, the effect on soil fertility and physical characteristics will be evaluated. Population dynamics of beneficial insects and soil pests will be investigated also. Sweetpotato nutritional status and growth will be monitored also to determine the response to selected cash/cover crops and strategies. Roots, root pieces/segments or any plant part that can be stored overwinter for spring planting will be planted directly in the field and compared to traditional slips planting. Earliness of planting and potential to reduce late season insect incidence will be evaluated also. Participating farmers will gain experience and information necessary to adopt a holistic sustainable production system to manage their farm and benefit the sweetpotato industry as well as the community. The workshops will focus on research findings and applications of soil management and planting strategies, but may also include activities relevant to pest and weed management, seedstock selection and water management. The audience will consist of local service providers, farmers and industry representatives. The ultimate outcome of this project will be an increased sustainability in the region.
Project objectives from proposal:
The main goal of this project is to develop and promote adoption of low-cost sustainable sweetpotato production strategies for the southern region that are profitable and environmentally sound. Sustainable practices will focus on cover crops to reduce pest pressure and/or improve soil fertility, on conservation tillage to reduce costs and soil erosion, and on novel planting methods to eliminate the high cost of bedding and transplanting.
To delineate the objectives of this proposal, we focused on the inputs of the Mississippi Sweetpotato Producer Advisory Committee. In addition, the PIs from each state met with participating farmer and service providers to discuss and select particular strategies to comply with the project objectives.
The objectives for this investigation are:
1. Evaluate sustainable ground management strategies to improve sweetpotato production in a sustainable production system.
2. Develop sweetpotato planting strategies including planting method and type of planting material to increase production efficiency and reduce costs.
3. Promote adoption of sustainable sweetpotato production systems through farmer participation in on-farm research and demonstrations trials, workshops and publications.