Educational Materials for Cover Crop Adoption and Use in the Subtropics and Tropics

Project Overview

LS18-302
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2018: $46,999.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Florida
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Danielle Treadwell
University of Florida

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: catch crops, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, intercropping, multiple cropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, technical assistance, workshop

    Abstract:

    Educational materials and support systems to support cover crop adoption and management were developed for farmers and service providers in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.  This project's objectives and deliverables contribute directly to the Southern Cover Crop Council (SCCC) and Southern Region SARE (SSARE). The SCCC was established in the summer of 2016 and finalized in Athens, GA, in December 2016 with support from SSARE, and is composed of farmers, service providers, industry representatives, and research and extension faculty from 13 states who aim to increase cover crop use through collaborative education and research efforts throughout the Southern region.

    In 2017 during a meeting of the 40-member SCCC board in College Station, Texas, the SCCC prioritized the development of a comprehensive website with enhanced educational content on cover crop selection and management with input and contributions from other regional cover crop councils, farmers, NRCS, ARS, land-grant university faculty and staff and seed industry representatives. Specifically, the council identified the need for 1) a cover crop decision tool, 2) cover crop management recommendations that reflected the current science, relevant policies, practitioner experiences, and 3) a directory of services and experts to help farmers find the resources they need 24/7. Collectively, these three resources comprised the foundation of the plan for electronic educational materials. The content was organized by physiographic regions (n=9) and three farming systems (grazing, row, and vegetable) to distinguish practices among climate, soil, and system differences.

    This project's rationale was to assess needs for and produce educational materials on cover crops for farmers and service providers in subtropical and tropical climates, including specialty crop producers and farmers with agronomic crops and livestock. This project provided funding for semi-structured interviews of 25 farmers and five service providers in Florida, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico, review and selection of current cover crop educational materials relevant to our climate, and the addition of new peer-reviewed educational content, including high-resolution photographs, short videos, and fact sheets for the SCCC website.

    This educational project was built on previous and current team efforts, including LS18-290, and the outputs directly reflected farmer and service provider preferences on how and why they plan to use the SCCC website materials.

     

    Project objectives:

    1. Conduct 30 semi-structured interview of farmers and technical service providers in Florida, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix and: document current cover crop practices and perceived barriers to cover crop adoption; and identify priorities and preferences for future educational content as well as electronic format, presentation, and the likelihood of use.
    2. Build an annotated database from a review of 100 publications including journal articles, technical notes, SSARE final reports on cover crop grants, cover crop publications from agencies such as NRCS and ARS, as well as instructional video relevant to the subtropics and tropics that will serve as supporting documentation for cover crop recommendations in our area.
    3. Publish five new educational products and a library of high-resolution photographs for farmers and service providers based on Objectives 1 and 2's outcomes and make these available on the SCCC website.
    4. Implement three workshops in Florida, Puerto Rico, and St. Croix in Year 2 to present the content, receive critical feedback, and obtain recommendations for the next steps.
    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.