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Farmer Outreach Needed to Increase Adoption of Research InnovationsNational Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Farmer and Extension Agent on farm. Photo credit: KY State University.

Farmer Outreach Wanted to Improve Adoption of Research Innovations

July 29, 2019

Farmer and Extension Agent on farm. Photograph credit score: KY State University.

U.S. agriculture relies on innovations and new know-how to help not continued productiveness and to increase resilience inside our farm and meals methods. Funding in publicly funded agriculture research, nevertheless, has stagnated over the several many years, although the need to equip farmers with new tools to deal with new challenges is increasingly dire.

Help for outreach and dissemination of analysis findings is as essential as the analysis itself – in any case, innovations are a lot much less helpful if no one is aware of about them. Cooperative extension and non-profit organizations typically fill this outreach position by leveraging federal funds. Identical to investments in public research, nevertheless, help for outreach and extension has additionally waned over the previous few many years. A brand new report released final week by the Charles Valentine Riley Memorial Basis (RMF) highlights the crucial perform that outreach performs in the adoption of latest practices within farming communities.


In 2014, RMF first started their effort to create a unified public message on the need to improve help for food, agriculture, and natural assets analysis. After the discharge of their first report, Pursuing a Unifying Message: Elevating Meals, Agriculture and National Assets Research as a National Priority, it turned clear that concrete examples have been wanted to showcase the impacts of public investments in underpinning a meals system most of us take as a right.

RMF’s new report, Cooperative Extension and Public Outreach: Advancing Agriculture and Enhancing Lives, options 22 success stories illustrating the necessary position Cooperative Extension, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and different establishments serve in offering crucial outreach to farmers. A number of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) member organizations who work on the bottom conducting each analysis and outreach to farmers, are featured in this report.

organizations, with the help of grants from the Nationwide Institute of Meals and
Agriculture (NIFA), create progressive coaching and education schemes for
farmers and processors that assist beginning farmers, small and medium-sized
farms, as well as underserved and socially disadvantaged communities. The
report highlights the exceptional work these NGOs are doing for farmers and
farming communities throughout the U.S.

Sensible Farmers of Iowa – Cover
Cropping Techniques for Corn and Soybeans

Utilizing a Sustainable Agriculture Research and Schooling (SARE) grant, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) labored with two transitioning organic corn and soybean farmers in north-central Iowa on an on-farm analysis trial that sought to optimize no-till cover cropping by way of crimping. Their results, which showed sufficient weed suppression and identified the perfect occasions to terminate cowl crops, led to the native adoption of the method, and farmer schooling on the results via area days, webinars and revealed newsletters. This farmer-led challenge is only one example of how helpful on-farm analysis may be when farmers are involved and may educate different farmers on what they have discovered and the influence on their backside line.                              

Carolina Farm Stewardship Affiliation – Small Farms and Meals Security

With their Local Produce Security Initiative (LPSI) program, Carolina Farm Stewardship Affiliation (CFSA) is at the forefront of delivering research-based food safety training, schooling and outreach to small and financially constrained, starting growers all through North and South Carolina. With a grant from NIFA’s Meals Security Outreach Program (FSOP) program, CFSA was capable of practice more than 600 farmers in water administration and soil conservation, assist greater than 140 farms in writing meals safety plans, and mentor greater than 100 farms to move good agricultural practices (GAP) audits.

There’s a robust demand
from farmers for food security coaching and technical assistance given new GAP
necessities and new federal meals safety laws. LPSI provides producers and
consumers confidence in a small or beginning farm’s potential to handle food safety
danger, thus increasing farmer access to local, regional and national markets.
These trainings also go hand-in-hand with workshops on food safety rules
and the creation of the Good Agricultural
Practices for Small Diversified Farms: Ideas and Strategies to Scale back Danger and
Move an Audit guide. 

Land Stewardship Venture – Coaching Starting Farmers

Farm Beginnings, a farmer-led, community-based model for coaching the subsequent era of farmers was created by the Land Stewardship Venture (LSP) over 20 years ago. Supported by NIFA’s  Starting Farmer and Rancher Improvement Program, Farm Beginnings has educated more than 1,000 farmers in methods to overcome limitations to entry and be successful in agriculture. Targeted to these with lower than two years of farming experience, the program helps construct on primary expertise and foster larger group connection. 70 % of farmers who have taken the structured course proceed to farm 5 years later, with 98 % of graduates following sustainable practices, 75 % proudly owning or managing their own farms, and 69 % exceeding their farm revenue objectives.

This system’s reputation and success may be attributed to many elements. These embrace the best way it addresses totally different levels of farmer improvement with a farmer-to-farmer focus the place the instructors are other farmers, guiding the development of curriculum and provide mentoring. General, the aim of Farm Beginnings is to strengthen farmer networks and set up sustainable practices to allow communities to develop their native food economies, giving small farms a better probability of success. This program was just lately also featured in NSAC’s evaluation of BFRDP as a profitable mannequin to train new farmers.

Organic Farming Analysis Foundation – Educating Farmers about Soil Well being

As a champion of natural
farmers, fostering the widespread adoption of natural farming, the Organic
Farming Analysis Foundation (OFRF), developed a collection of instructional
guidebooks and webinars that train natural farmers the best way to improve each soil
well being and the overall resilience of their operations. Seven guidebooks have been revealed
in 2017, overlaying subjects from weed management and cover cropping to plant
breeding and water management. Hundreds of guidebooks have been downloaded and
lots of of people registered for the webinars. Webinars coated conservation
tillage, ecological approaches to weed management and organic practices for
climate mitigation, to name a number of. With college companions, OFRF has also
created free, online programs on organic production in California specialty
crops. The programs embrace on-farm demonstration videos illustrating the
implementation of quite a lot of organic practices, like growing cover crops for
weed management and soil fertility, and methods for composting using a spread
of feedstocks.

Translating Analysis Via Outreach

NGO outreach plays an
essential position in advancing agricultural research and schooling to farmers
across the nation. But, in response to the report released last week, there are
opportunities for better supporting these essential features shifting forward.
This consists of the need for extra outcome-based reporting to raised understand
how funded analysis tasks are reaching farmers, how analysis is being
communicated, and whether or not this helps to create more sustainable farming
alternatives. Focusing on research that prioritizes partnerships between NGOs
and different community-based organizations with expertise in training and outreach
especially benefits farming communities and may help ship extra targeted
outcomes and on the ground impacts.

The report additionally highlights the position of Cooperative Extension and the evolution of its relationship with analysis and public outreach. Extension’s education schemes rely on science and evidence-based analysis. This is additionally practiced within the subject, with many states having university relationships and co-funded school at analysis stations, the place connections between the campus-based school with county/regional Extension remains a key element of the Extension community.      

In the direction of a Unifying Message                            

Reflecting on the importance of extension and outreach in creating a unifying message to increase help for agricultural analysis, the report suggests some themes and next steps for advancing this agenda. These embrace:

  • Securing the economic, environmental and social sustainability of
    agriculture, with regard to helping farmers make
    manufacturing selections in evolving environmental and social contexts
  • Respecting the differing needs and capability of U.S. agriculture by tailoring packages to profit large-scale operations, small-scale
    operations, city and rural, and socioeconomically disadvantaged and
    underserved farmers, ranchers and communities
  • Motivating the subsequent era of the meals and agriculture workforce relative to agriculture and meals literacy, city agriculture, and
    health and vitamin, together with the various 4-H packages that educate shoppers
    about how meals, fiber and gasoline are produced
  • Initiating a complete city agriculture effortthat educates People about the place, how and by whom their meals was produced at the side of help of latest native and regional meals production methods in rural and concrete communities in an effort to increase the workforce beyond the normal farms in rural communities                 

With partnerships round
analysis, schooling, and extension, there’s opportunity to deal with essential
societal points and have interaction extra stakeholders within the process to maneuver agriculture

NSAC was a contributor to
this latest RMF report along with Purdue University, the Affiliation of Public
and Land-Grant Universities, Cooperative Extension, College of Tennessee at
Martin, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Iowa State College, among

Learn the complete report at 

Research, Schooling & Extension