- Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
- Farm Business Management: agritourism, farm-to-institution, marketing management
- Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
- Production Systems: integrated crop and livestock systems
- Sustainable Communities: leadership development, local and regional food systems, partnerships
South Dakota is a rural state with a population of about 869,666 people (US Census 2018). The unemployment rate in SD was 3.2% in June 2018, below the national average of 4% (SD Bureau of Finance and Management 2018). Agriculture is South Dakota’s number one industry with over $25 billion dollars in generated revenue contributing to 20% of state’s economy and employing 15% of the population in agriculture production and related fields in 2012 (South Dakota Department of Agriculture 2014). However, the farm economy has weakened over the last few years due to low commodity prices and SD Farm income is at its lowest since peaking in 2011 (SD Bureau of Finance and Management 2018). South Dakota’s beef industry is the main driver of the livestock economy, with 1.69 million beef cows in the state, it ranks 7th in the nation (USDA-NASS 2016). Pasture and rangeland account for half of the land use with the remaining used for crop production. The major crops are corn, soybeans, wheat, all hay, sunflower, oats, and sorghum (USDA-NASS 2016). Conventional agriculture tends to dominate the state with only a small minority of producers that are involved with alternative, sustainable, or organic agricultural practices. There are very few non-governmental agencies (NGOs) working on sustainable agriculture issues in the state.
South Dakota State University (SDSU) is the Land Grant institution with missions in research, teaching, and extension. SDSU Extension has seven regional hubs strategically located across the state where 37 field specialists and associated field staff, with specific duties in generally one discipline reside (iGrow 2018). Extension’s core focus areas are: 4-H & youth, livestock, agronomy, healthy families, community development, and gardens. Extension mirrors the agricultural climate in South Dakota, however, local foods, community development and soil health are gaining traction. South Dakota SARE has been coordinated by Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Smart, a rangeland ecologist, in the Department of Natural Resources, since January 2015. Dr. Smart has spent considerable time rejuvenating the advisory board and increased activity to outreach professionals through travel scholarships and mini-grants. In 2018, Dr. Smart recruited Dr. Rhoda Burrows, SDSU Extension Horticultural specialist, to help co-coordinate the FACE of SARE portion plan of work.
Initiatives for 2019-20 are:
- Soil health
- Livestock-crop integration
- Local foods
- Beginning Farmers/Ranchers: Building sustainable operations