Iowa 2019-20 SARE plan of work

Project Overview

NCIA19-001
Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2020
Grant Recipient: Iowa State University
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
State Coordinator:
Christa Hartsook
Iowa State University

Information Products

2020 Crop Advantage Proceedings (Conference Proceeding)
2019 Crop Advantage Proceedings (Conference Proceeding)

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, manure management, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, watering systems
  • Crop Production: beekeeping, conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, drainage systems, food processing, food processing facilities/community kitchens, forest/woodlot management, high tunnels or hoop houses, irrigation, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, postharvest treatment, season extension types and construction, strip tillage, varieties and cultivars, water management
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, renewable energy
  • Farm Business Management: agricultural finance, agritourism, community-supported agriculture, farm-to-institution, financial management, market study, new enterprise development, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: grass waterways, habitat enhancement, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultivation, precision herbicide use
  • Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil chemistry, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, food hubs, local and regional food systems, partnerships, quality of life, sustainability measures, urban agriculture, values-based supply chains

    Abstract:

    Iowa’s state Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Professional Development Program (PDP) is supported by Extension and Research administration at Iowa State University (ISU). The Iowa Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program has a history of strong professional development support in organic and traditional agriculture, agriculture educator capacity-building, and local food systems. The program, coordinated by Extension Program Specialist and State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator, Christa Hartsook, works closely and cooperatively with other university entities and related centers, including the Extension Small Farm Sustainability program, Extension Value Added Agriculture Program, Extension Beginning Farmer Center, Extension Women in Agriculture Program, Extension Organic Program, ISU Veterans in Agriculture Program, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSGW), Iowa Water Center and the Iowa Learning Farm. The state program has a long-standing partnership with Practical Farmers of Iowa and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) (e.g. Women, Food & Agriculture Network and Iowa Farmers’ Union), as well as state agencies, including Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS).

    The Iowa PDP target audience, the primary stakeholders, include a variety of sustainable agriculture outreach educators: ISU Extension specialists and field staff, NRCS, FSA, IDALS, other agency personnel, community college faculty, vocational agriculture instructors, state natural resource educators, and leaders/educators in Iowa’s RFSWGs, non-profits and community-based organizations. This target audience in Iowa is loosely approximated to contain upwards of 600 individuals, of which up to 10% are likely newly employed at any given time. The Iowa program provides both initial sustainable agriculture educational opportunities for new educators and updated and continuing educational opportunities for current employees as mandated in federal legislation.

    The State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator provides and supports professional development training and shares SARE resources and information at local, state, regional and national conferences, workshops, and field days.

    Project objectives:

    Iowa Initiative 1: Addressing Issues in Soil Health, Water Quality, Energy and Climate

    Education and research on cover crop selection and use to enhance soil quality and crop yield continues to be in the forefront of sustainable agriculture. Farmers learn from other farmers through experience and educational and networking opportunities, so educating farmer mentors on energy and climate change can be an effective tool. Agriculture educators need to be current on water issues and efforts taking place in their regions.

    Activities

    Funds will be used to sponsor conferences, workshops, and field days support mini-grant projects and programs:

    1. Soil health field days sponsored by soil, water conservation districts, PFI, NRCS and ISU Extension (2019, 2020)

    2. Sponsor annual Iowa Water Quality Conference (2019, 2020)

    3. Sponsor PFI field day and conference (2019, 2020)

    4. Sponsor Soil Health Conference (2019, 2020)

    5. Support proceeding publication for Crop Advantage Series statewide meetings (2019, 2020)

    Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

    1. 3 educators to attend the Iowa Water Quality Conference (2019, 2020)

    2. 2 educators to attend the Iowa Soil Health Conference (2019, 2020)

    Expected Outcomes

    50 educators (Extension, NRCS, agriculture instructors) will continue to enhance their knowledge about soil quality and health through the use of cover crops and improved nutrient management

    – 100 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their production system

    – 10 educators will use this information to answer client questions

    – 15 educators will gain insight into communication techniques that motivate action among new, young farmers

    – 50 farmers and educators will develop new contacts and partners for work 

    – 50 educators will increase their understanding of the watersheds and nutrient management research in their regions

    – 150 farmers will learn water and nutrient management skills

    – 25 farmers will incorporate new knowledge into their farming systems

    – 15 educators will use this information to answer client questions

    – 50 educators will learn new production strategies to minimize agricultural inputs and improve nutrient management by attending the Crop Advantage Series meetings

    – 250 farmers will make a change on their farm to improve nutrient management and soil health after attending the Crop Advantage Series meetings

    Evaluation

    Post-event evaluations indicating change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information will be conducted by sponsored organizations/events. Agriculture educators receiving travel scholarships will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1-6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

    Iowa Initiative 2: Building Leadership, Communication, and Capacity in Sustainable Agriculture

    It has become widely recognized within Iowa’s sustainable agriculture community that interdisciplinary, multi-organizational collaboration and coordination is essential to further the implementation of sustainable practices among diverse audiences in our food and agriculture system. For example, Iowa’s Regional Food Systems Working Group (WFSWG), a network of agriculture Extension educators and their partners, need to collaborate to address issues that strengthen and enhance the local food systems in Iowa. Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and farmer educators need to work together in the careful planning and implementation of management intensive grazing systems in order to maintain profitability in a dynamic market and attract young producers to the industry.

    Activities

    Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

    1. Regional Food Systems Working Group (RFSWG) leaders quarterly meetings (2019, 2020)

    2. Sponsor a continuing education workshop on new grazing and forage research, as well as mentorship best practices, for trainers and farmer-mentors who teach in the Certified Grazier program (2019, 2020)

    3. Travel scholarships for agriculture educators to attend the Women, Farming and Agriculture Network Annual Conference (2019, 2020)

    4. Increasing opportunities and access to local meat processor planning group (2019, 2020)

    5. Maintain communication with stakeholders through the Iowa SARE website (2019, 2020)

    Funds will be used to sponsor events/programs at conferences, field days and special events:

    1. Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference (2019, 2020)

    2. Practical Farmers of Iowa Summer Field Days (2019, 2020)

    Expected Outcomes

    – 50 local food advocates and educators/yr will increase their leadership and collaborations within their communities

    – 25 educators and 20 loan officers will learn how federal and state funding support can be used to increase farmers’ production, profitability, and conservation strategies.

    – 45 will develop new contacts and partners for work

    – 45 will conduct client consultations or answer client questions

    – 10 will incorporate ideas and information into new or existing programming

    – 300 certified Grazier educators will update their skills in grazing management, planning, and mentorship

    – 200 will use new information to answer mentee questions

    – 100 will incorporate new ideas into regular programming or events

    – 50 will develop new contacts or partners for work

    – 25 educators will increase their knowledge of beginning and transitioning farm management

    – 100 non-traditional farmers will incorporate new, sustainable practices into their agri-businesses

    – 50 educators and farmers/landowners will develop new contacts and partners for work

    – 50 ranchers, Extension staff, RFSWG leaders, meat processors, and institutional buyers will work together to develop a plan to improve relationships between ranchers, processors, and buyers and increase local meat sales through local retailers and institutions.

    Evaluation

    Post-event evaluations indicating change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information will be conducted. Iowa educators will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool after workshops or events to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

    Iowa Initiative 3: Implementing Diversified Production and Marketing Systems

    As input costs continue to rise, beef producers are seeking sustainable ways to feed and market their livestock. Iowa soil stewardship educators continue to request advanced training about production practices in certified organic systems, especially regarding how tillage and soil quality can be compatible. A large percentage of Iowa farms are still “small farms.”

    Sustaining these farms requires diversification and innovative marketing systems. Pest management requires a significant amount of input for fruit and vegetable farmers in terms of equipment, supplies and labor.

    Activities

    Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

    1. Sponsor guest speaker on Integrating cover crops to reduce feeding costs at Driftless Beef Conference (2019, 2020)

    2. Educator training on weed and pest management in horticultural crops workshop (2019, 2020)

    3. Speaker sponsor at Iowa Small Farms Conference (2019, 2020)

    Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

    1. For three educators/year to attend the Iowa Organic Conference and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (2019, 2020)

    2. Two educators/year to attend the Iowa Small Farms Conference (2019, 2020)

    3. Two educators/year to attend the Annual Great Plains Growers’ Conference (2019, 2020)

    Expected Outcomes

    – 25 educators will enhance their understanding of production

    – 5 will develop new contacts or partners for work

    – 15 will use new information to answer client questions

    – 150 farmers and agri-businesses will increase their knowledge of sustainable beef production systems

    – 15 educators will increase their understanding of weed and pest management in fruit and vegetable production systems

    – 50 producers will increase their knowledge of weed management strategies in vegetable crops

    – 30 fruit producers will improve their knowledge of insects and diseases to incorporate management strategies with reduced inputs.

    – 4 educators will gain new technical knowledge on best practices in organic production and tillage, use organic agriculture and incorporate organic information into regular programming

    Evaluation

    Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions of participants to act on new

    information. Iowa educators attending events and receiving travel scholarships will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1- 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

    Iowa Initiative 4: Scaling Up and Strengthening Local Food Systems

    An ongoing increase in the demand for local foods in Iowa has prompted questions about how this demand can be met efficiently, profitably, and safely. If Iowa’s agriculture is to consistently provide its citizens with a higher proportion of their diets, obstacles in increasing the production and marketing capacity for local foods through local and regional value chains must be addressed. An increasing number of local food producers are scaling up for larger, wholesale markets and seek to mitigate risks associated with institutional sales. Educators are working to facilitate the aggregation and distribution of local foods through relationships with larger-order buyers, primarily through development of food hubs.

    Activities

    Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

    1. Sponsor activities that promote community-based food systems (2019, 2020)

    2. PDP for educators and regional food systems coordinators through meetings and workshops (2019, 2020)

    3. Support strategic planning for collaboration among ranchers, meat processors, and food services (2019, 2020)

    Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

    1. Three educators/year to attend a national or regional local foods conference (2019, 2020)

    Expected Outcomes

    – 75 educators will be trained in priority local food system development topics

    – 50 educators will use new information to answer client questions and address local issues

    – 20 educators will incorporate new ideas into ongoing programming to support local food systems

    – 50 Food systems leaders and educators in Iowa will increase their knowledge of food hub management

    – 2 educators will gain national exposure and leading expertise in the area of food hub management

    – 20 educators will develop numerous contacts and partners for work

    Evaluation

    Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information. Iowa educators will complete Iowa SARE PDP post-event evaluation tool 1 – 6 months after workshops to assess short- and intermediate-term outcomes.

    Iowa Initiative 5: Strengthening the Success and Sustainability of Beginning Farmers

    The North Central SARE Region adopted this regional initiative directed at supporting those working with beginning farmers. Within Iowa, this initiative was adopted by the advisory committee to directly support those already working in this space, including Practical Farmers of Iowa, the Beginning Farmer Center and the peer mentoring networks established by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach located throughout the state.

    Activities

    Funds will be used to support mini-grant projects and programs:

    1. Sponsor activities that promote beginning farmer networks, peer networks and regional workshops (2019, 2020)

    2. PDP for educators of beginning farmers through meetings and workshops (2019, 2020)

    Funds will be used to support professional development travel scholarships:

    2. Three educators/year to attend a national or regional beginning farmer conference (2019, 2020)

    Expected Outcomes

    – 25 educators will be trained in beginning farmer development topics

    – 20 educators will use new information to answer client questions and address local issues

    – 20 educators and farmers will develop new contacts and partners for work

    Evaluation

    Post-event evaluations will be conducted to determine change in knowledge and intentions to act on new information.

    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.