- Animal Production: watering systems
- Crop Production: irrigation, water management
- Education and Training: Conference
- Natural Resources/Environment: drift/runoff buffers, grass waterways, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization
High quality and adequate supplies of water are essential to sustainable agriculture producers for enterprise profitability, and for the health of their families, workers and supporting ecosystems. From arid areas of the Southern region where impaired water quality and reduced water availability have been long recognized as significant challenges and obstacles to successful sustainable agriculture to the more humid Southeastern areas, farmers and rancher (n=153) responding to a regional survey (Mahler et al. 2013) indicated that they need to know more about a wide variety of water management topics.
Topics of strongest interest to farmers were irrigation management, private well protection, protecting drinking water supplies, nutrient and pest management, septic system management, fish and wildlife water needs and restoring fish and aquatic habitat, watershed management, and forest management related to water issues.
A regional water conference with the goal to improve producer adoption of sustainable water management practices was developed and delivered. Training and instruction addressing topics identified by surveyed producers were provided by 1) Extension and research faculty supported through this proposal request, as well as by additional faculty and agency representatives registering for the conference and participating through support independent of this request, and 2) at least one producer from each of all states cooperating on this proposal providing a presentation, overview, or serving on a discussion panel to describe their experience with sustainable water management practices or impediments to their implementation of more sustainable agricultural practices. The organizing committee for the conference was comprised of producers representing participating states as described in this proposal and other project co-investigators listed in this proposal.
Program impacts and outcomes included 1) increased knowledge regarding practices supporting more sustainable water management, 2) increased knowledge, with special focus on limited-resource farmers and ranchers, regarding state and Federal sustainable agricultural programs designed to overcome barriers to implementation of sustainable water management practices, 3) improved attitudes and intentions to adopt sustainable water management practices, and 4) increased adoption of sustainable water management practices by producers attending the conference.
Survey responses received from farmers across nine SSARE states indicated strong interest in learning more sustainable practices for a wide variety of water management topics and practices affecting water/environmental quality. Objectives of the conference included:
- Increasing the knowledge regarding practices supporting more sustainable water management,
- Increasing the knowledge, with special focus on limited-resource farmers and ranchers, regarding state and Federal sustainable agricultural programs designed to overcome barriers to implementation of sustainable water management practices,
- Improving the attitudes and intentions to adopt sustainable water management practices, and
- Increasing the adoption of sustainable water management practices by producers attending the conference.