Facilitating Farmer-scientist Collaboration Furthering Sustainability

Derrick Exner, P&S, Agronomy


Producers are developing creative farming methods and production systems both to protect the environment and to meet the needs of premium, specialty markets.  However, in many cases they lack technical or scientific backstopping that would contribute to success.  At the same time, many university/Extension scientists have knowledge that these producers need, but those producers may lack a venue or structure to utilize the information.


Facilitate information exchange around sustainable agriculture between producers and university/Extension personnel through field days, workshops, and collaborative, on-farm research projects.


Organized and publicized statewide 15 farm field days, four winter workshops, and two dozen on-farm trials.  Topics included the Green Lands Blue Waters initiative, Canada thistle management, artificial insemination for small swine producers, corn breeding for sustainable systems, organic flax production, producing meat for ethnic markets, grass-finishing beef, and herd health for alternative swine systems.  Collaborators included: American Natural Soy Processors, Cherokee, Iowa; Darrell Busby, Extension livestock field specialist; Richard Cruse, professor of Agronomy; Robert Hartzler, Extension weeds specialist; Thomas Isenhart, professor of Natural Resource, Ecology and Management; Matt Liebman, professor of Agronomy; Matthew ONeal, professor of Entomology; John Sellers, Leopold Center grasslands specialist; Jeremy Singer, USDA Soil Tilth Lab scientist; David Stender, Extension swine field specialist; Darrell Trampel, Extension poultry veterinarian; and the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.  In addition facilitated the ISU On-Farm Research and Demonstration mini-grant program, publicizing the RFP among producers and in the university community, and helping match farmers and scientists in collaborative teams.


Attendance at the four winter workshops held was 212.  Total attendance at the 15 field days was 1,037.  Attendees returning evaluations for 2005 events traveled an average distance of 75 miles one way, indicating that they regarded these field days and workshops as important learning opportunities.  Of attending producers, 58 percent indicated that because of the event attended they were considering changing at least one farming practice.  Ninety-five percent of respondents indicated that the event they attended met or exceeded their expectations.

147 - Sustainable Agriculture

Page last updated: November 30, 2006
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