Field-to-Table Technical Outreach Package for Smaller-Scale Farmers – Ranchers in the Front range

Project Overview

SW01-004
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $48,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $73,500.00
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, oats, potatoes, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: melons, apples, peaches, pears, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), onions, peas (culinary), peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bees, bovine, poultry, rabbits, swine

Practices

  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, feed formulation, free-range, feed rations, manure management, mineral supplements, grazing - multispecies, pasture fertility, pasture renovation, preventive practices, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, mentoring, networking, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development, budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, marketing management, agricultural finance, market study, risk management, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, grass waterways, habitat enhancement, hedgerows, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, hedges - woody
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, cultural control, economic threshold, eradication, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, trap crops, mulching - vegetative, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, composting, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: infrastructure analysis, new business opportunities, partnerships

    Abstract:

    The process of creating a “user-friendly” agricultural manual and effective hands-on technical assistance package revealed that many smaller scale farmers and ranchers have worked out a particular system of production that is generally satisfactory. In most of these cases the market is weak or developing slowly. Closer examination reveals that business management and process control are usually the critical bottlenecks to improved economy of the operation. Improvements to these generally improve production and marketing. Development of the manual and technical assistance package was modified to include more material on assessments, business management, process control, and standards. Assessment tools are critical to effective management but are rarely employed by producers, and were resisted by many of the participants who were aware of their poor recordkeeping. Technical assistance and the marketing workshops emphasized the need for assessing one’s operation as well as the marketplace. Those who adopted assessment tools improved their operations and were better able to use the manual.

    Project objectives:

    1) Produce a manual with regionally relevant information on agricultural commodities for smaller-scale operations utilizing sustainable agricultural techniques. 2) Develop a process of hands-on technical assistance that is most useful and accommodating to farmers’ and ranchers’ needs within a developing marketplace. 3) Work with farmers and ranchers to increase their awareness and understanding of market development and evolution through workshops and direct mail. 4) Completed manuals will be advertised and mailed to other agricultural professionals who are working on similar projects in marginal areas. For those that have e-mail, publications will be available over the internet.

    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.