DSU, UDE, UMES Joint State Program Project: Cover Crops and Soil Health & Beekeeping and Attracting Pollinators

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2014: $100,280.00
Funds awarded in 2015: $94,329.00
Funds awarded in 2016: $83,332.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2017
Grant Recipient: Delaware State University
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
State Coordinator:
John Clendaniel
Delaware State University


  • Animals: bees


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, cover crops, pollinator habitat

    Proposal abstract:

    Cover Crops and Soil Health

    This project aims to not only increase the knowledge of Ag service providers about soil health and cover crops, but also train them on how to better assist farmers and hold programming that can address the needs of diverse types of farmers in their area.

    The interest among Ag service providers nationally is evident following the national SARE/NRCS cover crop and soil health conference. NRCS staff and extension professionals have an increased need and desire to improve their ability to assist farmers with cover crops and soil health; however, many professionals have only a basic understanding of the benefits of using cover crops as well as what farmers can do to adopt cover crops. Even for those who have a deeper knowledge base in cover crops, many are still unaware of details pertaining to their local area and different types of farmers.  Cover crop issues are extremely specific to local areas, the crops a farmer is growing, and the production system in which crops are grown. Also, farmers and service providers are often not aware of current research and suggestions for management practices that are available. Additionally research that has been done, even in a nearby state, may not apply to their area.  Service providers need to learn how to filter all of this information in order to best meet the needs of their farmer clients.

    Local interest in cover crops and soil health was confirmed through a poster board survey conducted at Delaware Ag Week in January to gauge the interests of farmers and Ag service providers. 17 service providers and 53 farmers chose two of nine categories that they were most interested in. Of those, 9 service providers and 22 farmers chose cover crops. This was the highest response for service providers and the second highest for farmers.

    This project will respond to the local interests of service providers and farmers in cover crops by participating in a regional conference and then offering educational opportunities in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Participants in these programs will learn about the broad issues of cover crops and how to tailor their programming to their local area and for their farmers.

    Beekeeping and Attracting Pollinators

    Pollinators are an essential aspect of successfully growing fruits and vegetables. However, many farmers, especially those who manage small farms know little about attracting them.  Likewise, this is often an overlooked area for Ag service providers and the topic rarely comes up while reviewing a farmer’s operation. Generalist Ag service providers who do not work with bees could still benefit from and utilize knowledge gained in this area.

    Beekeeping is obviously another way, in addition to promoting native pollinators, to ensure pollinators are on a farm when they are needed. The clear additional benefit of honeybees to farmers is the value added products from their honey. This project will educate Ag service providers and farmers directly through a series of workshops.  Participants may have a wide range of knowledge levels so the workshops will be of varying levels. Beginners through experts will be able to benefit from the project and some will be able to drastically improve their knowledge, skills and production by going to multiple workshops.

    A few years ago, DSU did a series of beekeeping workshops with very high participation levels at all of the events. Interest remained very high, but the funding for these activities ended and farmers and service providers were left without local educational opportunities. A honey extractor was also purchased by DSU during this time, but was never able to be utilized by farmers or service providers.

    A poster board survey was conducted at Delaware Ag Week in January to gauge the interests of farmers and Ag service providers on multiple sustainable agriculture topics. 17 service providers and 53 farmers chose two of nine categories that they were most interested in. 6 service providers and 25 farmers chose beekeeping/pollinators. This was the highest selected category for farmers and the second highest among service providers.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    Cover Crops and Soil Health

    10 agriculture service providers from DE and MD who participate in the regional cover crops conference and/or post-conference follow-up trainings will use learned information to develop educational events and services including one-on-one consultations, workshops, presentations, and educational materials to reach 100 farmers.

    Beekeeping and Attracting Pollinators

    5 Ag service providers in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland will include knowledge and skills gained at trainings in their programs through workshops, trainings, the development of educational materials and one-on-one consultations delivered to 75 farmers.

    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.