An Educational Program in Low-input Sustainable Agriculture Production Technology and Philosophy
There is a wide variety of perceptions of the meaning of low-input, sustainable agriculture among agricultural industry leaders. Consequently, there is an obvious need for an educational program directed at agricultural leaders from all sectors in agriculture in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. The clientele would include agricultural policy makers, leaders of farmer organizations and commodity groups, university administrators, researchers, and extension workers. This proposal suggests holding a two-day conference to introduce this clientele to current LISA technology and its uses in order to enhance the possible adoption of this technology and the support (both monetary and legislative) it receives from the agricultural industry.
A regional workshop on sustainable agriculture was held in Tifton, Georgia on October 8-9, 1991. Attendance at the conference was 115 participants. Represented at the conference were: producers, university administrators, researchers, extension specialists, extension agents, soil conservationists, industry personnel. Seven states were represented: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Extension agents that participated represented: Alabama (9 counties), Florida (6 counties), Georgia (15 counties) and South Carolina (8 counties).
The workshop was geared so that information on the concepts and practical applications of sustainable agriculture would be shared with producers and extension personnel. A proceedings was distributed at the meeting for future use of the information, possibly at county level producer meetings. Information obtained from the workshop has been used at county extension meetings. Those agents who have responded to a request for information report the following use at producer meetings: Alabama (4 county meetings), Florida (2 county meetings), Georgia (7 county meetings), South Carolina (4 county meetings).
General subject matter that was included in the workshop includes: Perceptions of agricultural sustainability; sustainable agriculture policy; effects of sustainable agriculture on the farm; soil and water issues; food quality and safety; legal issues, rotations; nutrient management; groundwater protection; water management; environmental issues for animal systems; pesticide stewardship.
Future plans for the information obtained at the workshop are presentations at county meetings, newsletters, additional workshops.
Sustainable agriculture workshops and presentations at professional meetings and regional conferences.
The evaluations of the workshop were very positive. In general, the content of the workshop and the quality of speakers were rated very high. As expected most participants enjoyed having a panel of farmers to discuss their views on sustainable agriculture. Suggestions for improvement included shortening the program, more interactions of speakers, and making it more of a workshop with involvement in the actual program by all participants. Approximately 80% of the respondents of the evaluation indicated they would attend another conference on sustainable agriculture.
The overall objective of this proposed educational program is to promote a better understanding of LISA technology and philosophy and to foster the formation of new research and extension interest in this area through a conference for agricultural industry leaders. The intended audience includes industry leaders in the private sector, agricultural researchers and extension specialists at universities, county extension faculty, and government officials responsible for public policy decision.
(1) To educate agricultural industry leaders of the Southeast in the specific technology and philosophy behind low-input, sustainable agriculture.
(2) To provide a forum for the sharing of research and extension information about LISA technological developments that are currently available to farmers or in development.
(3) To provide an opportunity for people involved in agriculture to interact on both a formal and informal basis in order to discuss and develop mutual research and extension interests that may lead to future cooperative work.
(4) To continue the extension and educational facets of this project through the dissemination of printed proceedings of the educational program.