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Arkansas SARE FY2007 Report ABSTRACT The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (1862) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Cooperative Extension Program (1890) continue to have an excellent working relationship. A Memorandum of Understanding exists between the two organizations that allow specialists, administrators and county-based program personnel to jointly plan and conduct Extension education programs. Both organizations are members of the “Arkansas Conservation Partnership” which includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, the Arkansas Forestry Commission, the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts, and the Arkansas Association of Conservation District Employees. Both organizations also enjoy a productive and continuing working relationship with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Non-Governmental Organizations, Farmers, community leaders, youth leaders in 4-H and FFA as well as other agricultural professionals. Specific Sustainable Agriculture training has been provided for UAPB Farm Advisors, County Extension Agents, NRCS field staffs, state agency representatives, youth leaders and master trainers including the workshops offered at annual Rural Life Conference which is held on the campus of UAPB, activities at the UAPB Lonoke Farm site and various other sites around the state. Core curriculum training and commodity specific training are to county extension agents and other natural resource and agricultural professional at locations throughout the state. Sustainable Agriculture Report FY 2007 The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (1862) and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Cooperative Extension Program (1890) continued to work cooperatively during 2006/2007. As sister programs within the same university system, a close working relationship has been forged over the years. To accomplish the goals presented in the FY 2007 Sustainable Agriculture Plan of Work, both organizations used the available resources to serve the citizens of Arkansas. Specific accomplishments are listed for each goal set forth in the “Plan of Work”. Understanding of Resources Available to Farmers Training was offered to county agents, UAPB Farm Advisors, and personnel from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Farm Service Agency (FSA), as well as farmers through various workshops at the Annual Rural Life Conference that was held on the campus of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). The planning a committee consisted of UAPB faculty and staff, University of Arkansas-Cooperative Extension Service (UA-CES) personnel, NRCS personnel, FSA personnel, representatives from Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), farmers, homemakers, and community people. Workshops were presented by various USDA agencies including NRCS, the FSA and Rural Development (RD), UA-CES and UAPB. Topics included: Fisheries, Wildlife Management, Risk Management; Marketing for Limited Resource Producers; Crop Insurance; USDA Conservation Programs, Rural Housing Development, Rural Community Development, and Grants for Small Farms. There were approximately 400 attendees that included UAPB participants, UA-CES participants, FSA participants, NRCS participants, RD participants, NGO representatives, 93 farmers and some elected officials. Poster/exhibit sessions were presented; offerings included the aforementioned federal agencies; the SARE display and provided information on a variety of topics including: ATTRA, Master Gardeners, Agricultural Adventures, USDA programs, Human Nutrition, Stormwater Education, USDA Rural Development, Rural Fire Protection, USDA National Water Management Center, Recycling, NRCS Outreach and Sustaining and Improving the quality of Arkansas Communities. The third Arkansas Women in Agriculture Conference provided educational sessions and exhibits to 150+. Topics included: Estate Planning, Agriculture, Women & the Law, Asset Protection, Agro Tourism, Oil & Gas Leases, Water Issues, and Financial Assistance for Sustainable Land Management Practices. A SARE exhibit was featured in the exhibit area. “The Natural State Expo - A Sustainability Conference” organized by the Arkansas Sustainability Network, featured the SARE exhibit. Over 1000 attended the event, many unfamiliar with Sustainable Agriculture. The Expo also featured a booth promoting Community Supported Agriculture. An article about grant opportunities through SARE ran in approximately 10 newspapers in the state. The article heightened the interest of farmers. Six farmers contacted the Small Farm Staff at UAPB about submitting proposals. Reduced and/or prescriptive application of commercial pesticides, nutrients and animal manure Fourteen counties in Arkansas were identified as “nutritive surplus areas”. In these areas, nutrient applicators must be trained and certified to apply nutrients on areas exceeding 2.5 acres. In addition, all farmers must have approved nutrient management plans. Confined animal operations (CAO’s) are major contributors to nutrient surpluses in these counties. CAO’s have been identified as contributing factors to excessive phosphorous in streams due to runoff from land where manure has been applied. Excessive phosphorous in streams affects water quality and provides an opportunity to train agents and others on effective methods of dealing with manure. Training for CES agents, NRCS staff, Arkansas Association of Conservation District (AACD) staff and other agricultural professionals continues. The training included information on utilizing the Arkansas phosphorous indexes as a management tool for protecting water quality when applying animal manures to agricultural lands. 450 producers, industry, or agency personnel attending education programs attended Nutrient Management Planner and/or Nutrient Management Applicator Trainings. Also, training in Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for applying manure and nutrient management strategies were covered in the Core Curriculum for agriculture agents. Application of poultry litter to reclaim land that has been precision leveled for rice production has become a sustainable practice that is now an Extension recommendation. Some excess litter from impacted watershed is now being exported to neighboring states within a 150 mile radius. Training Pesticide Applicator Training is provided for producers and other agriculture professional in almost every county. A workshop on Integrated Pest Management conducted Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in OKC was attended by UAPB & UACES agricultural professionals. Through a SARE grant for training of county agents, specialists, university faculty, agricultural professionals, and farmers, on Organic Fruit Production was conducted. Marketing Options for Farmers A session for marketing options was offered as a workshop at the 2007 Rural Life Conference. The workshop was designed to provide Extension agents, NRCS field staff, UAPB Farm Advisors, and farmers with information and education on the Marketing of Agricultural Products. Workshops titled “Grain Marketing” and “Crop Insurance” were also presented. Extension Specialists collaborated with local market managers and supporting agencies to support a statewide farmers’ market association, Arkansas Farmers’ Market Association (AFMA). A state meeting was held to provide education and information to AFMA members, which includes market managers, county agents and local farmers. Increased Farmer Utilization of Water Conservation Best Management Practices Several areas in Arkansas have been designated as “critical ground water use area”. Thus, adequate water at the appropriate time is likely to be a limiting factor in crop production and the ability of farms to survive regardless of size. To address the issue of declining groundwater, UA-CES continues to train new agents on water conservation practices as a unit in the “Core Agriculture Curriculum Training.” Water management for irrigation efficiency, water quality and economics is an emerging concern and will is likely to spill over into the policy arena and water policy issues will come to the forefront in the near future. UAPB operates an 871-acre farm; the Pearlie S. Reed and Robert L. Cole Small Farm Outreach Wetland and Water Management Center. The farm is located in an area that has been declared a critical groundwater use area. UAPB, UA-CES, AACD, NRCS, NGOs and farmers had an opportunity to see water management activities being performed on a working farm during Field Days conducted in even number years. On going activities include: the USGS demonstrations on groundwater monitoring at the following URL address http://water.usgs.gov/nwis/uv?dd_cd=01&for-mat=gif&period=30&site_no=345057091525601, using storage reservoirs as alternative water sources, multiple inlet rice irrigation, furrow irrigation vs. flood irrigation for soybean production, and the use of 6 Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN) Weather Station for irrigation scheduling. SCAN stations are located in Lonoke, Earle, Marianna, DeWitt, Pine Bluff and Atkins. The web address is www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/scan/Arkansas/arkansas.html . The UAPB Partnership in Progress includes 25 water management and conservation projects that are currently being conducted on the farm site. Extension education efforts in water conservation include: 1) Multiple Inlet Irrigation which has been shown to reduce the amount of water pumped onto crops show that Multiple Inlet, 2) production of crops on zero grade fields, irrigation water required for zero grade fields is significantly less than what is required for conventional irrigation on conventional fields; and 3) surge irrigation on furrow irrigated fields, which has the potential to reduce the amount of time and water required to furrow irrigate certain fields, reduce labor requirements and allow for better management of furrow irrigation, and 4) utilization of scheduled using an Irrigation Scheduling Program. Extension specialist conducted in-service training for agents on “Irrigation Management to Save Water” and included a field day for farmers and other agricultural professionals in the L’Anguille Watershed. UAPB is working with 15 farmers in eastern Arkansas on a Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) that allowed the farmers to use drip irrigation for vegetable production. In addition the CIG program (sponsored by NRCS) has allowed the university to demonstrate soybean production on a zero grade field and make a comparison to an adjacent 0.1 grade field. . Increased Use of Native Plant Species Native grass plots and forestry plantings cover 190 acres at the Pearlie S. Reed and Robert L. Cole Small Farm Outreach Wetland and Water Management Center. This provided an excellent training opportunity for UA-CES Agents, UAPB Farm Advisors, NRCS personnel, Conservation District Technicians and certified crop advisors. Information on the production of native grass ecotypes (Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian-grass and Switch- grass), show how these native grasses could be used on a working farm to improve wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion. The project is being conducted in concert with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Memphis District. A training “Native Grass for Wildlife and Bio-fuels” for agricultural professional was conducted at the USDA- NRCS station at Booneville. SARE funds helped bring in speakers and provide attendees with CD’s of resource materials. Increased Consideration of Wildlife Habitat Needs in Agricultural Management County Agents are encouraged to show the economic and environmental benefits of incorporating wildlife management into farm plans. A web-based training module “Developing a Wildlife Enterprise: Is it for you?” is offered available. It can be found at www.forestandrange.org. Several research/demonstration projects were established to assess the attractiveness of plant materials in wildlife food plots. County agents were trained to establish and evaluate the plots. An in-service training on “Deer Management” was conducted. New projects in the early stages include development of riparian areas and developing and managing quail habitat at University of Arkansas Forests around the state. These projects are progressing and will be incorporated into field days and future trainings. Agents and specialist attended a Quail Habitat Training workshop held at the UA Winrock Center. Master Farmer Program A Master Farmer Program has been discontinued. Other Areas The S SAWG Conference provided an opportunity for 36 UAPB and Extension staff/faculty and ag producers to attended a sustainable agriculture conference. Breakout sessions on Community Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture Research And Demonstration, #Pastured Poultry, and Meat Goats and networking opportunities provided attendees a chance to learn about successful alternative ventures. There are several participants that have put to practice a lot of the information that was gained from attending sessions and networking with others that were present. Mrs. Jimmie L. Edwards, director of the Our Agri-Kids 4-H group, has a one-acre vegetable garden. After attending the conference Ms. Edwards put the whole garden in plastic mulch with drip-line irrigation. A result of her networking Ms. Edwards acquired rare sweet corn seed varieties, hybrid watermelon seed varieties, and several supply houses to get materials for her irrigation system. Dr. Njue, UAPB Horticulturalist, made a video of this garden. Leroy and Ruby Emerson gathered information on meat goats and vegetable production and marketing. They operate a 50-acre vegetable farm in McGhee. They have joined a coop in Lake Village mainly for the purpose of acquiring meat goats through Heifer International, and to better market the vegetables. Lance Brown, a UAPB student and a cattle farmer, attended the conference. Since then Lance has received a USDA loan to purchase more cattle and equipment. He was interested in organic livestock production, and realized the importance of good breeding stock from the start. There were about 12 Master Gardeners that went to the conference. They have developed a 8-group coalition called the Tri-County Community Coalition for the purpose of community food systems education, vegetable production & marketing, and livestock. The Coalition is in the process of revising a proposal that was submitted to Heifer International. Stephan Walker, a row crop and vegetable farmer in southern Arkansas, has been elected to the board of Southern SAWG. He expressed an interest in raising meat goats and selling vegetables through the farm-to- school lunch program. Meat Goat Production is an area of growing interest. A session was presented at the Rural Life Conference also a Meat Goat In-service training was conducted for county agents. Compost training is provided to Master Gardeners classes and to others requesting training on the topic. Lee Meyer conducted a seminar on SARE & SARE grants for Extension, UAPB and UAF faculty. As a result more SARE grant applications were submitted from the state. The Southern Region SARE Advisory Council and State Coordinator summer meeting was held in Little Rock.
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