Synt hesis of North Florida Farming Systems Project, University of Florida, 1981-1984

Material Information

Synt hesis of North Florida Farming Systems Project, University of Florida, 1981-1984
Schmidt, Dwight Leigh, 1955-
French, Edwin C
Hildebrand, Peter E
University of Florida -- Food and Resource Economics Dept
Place of Publication:
Gainesville Fla
Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
53 p. : ill., map ; 28 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Agricultural extension work -- Florida -- Suwannee County ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Florida -- Suwannee County ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Florida -- Columbia County ( lcsh )
Agriculture -- Florida -- Columbia County ( lcsh )
bibliography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Includes bibliographical references (p. 53).
General Note:
"April, 1984."
General Note:
"A report commissioned by Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville."
Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Dwight Leigh Schmidt, in collaboration with Drs. Edwin French ... [et al.].

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University of Florida
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Full Text

Synthesis of North Florida

Farming Systems Project

University of Florida

University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Gainesville, Florida
August, 1984




Dwight Leigh Schmidt
Department of Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida

In Collaboration With

Drs. Edwin French, Marilyn Swisher and Peter
Hildebrand, Mr. James Dean, Mr. John Wake,
Mr. Glenn Sappie, Mr. Bruce Dehm and Other
Members of the North Florida Project.

April, 1984

A Report Commissioned by Dr. Peter Hildebrand,
Department of Food and Resource Econ-
omics, University of Florida, Gainesville.

Dr. Schmidt gratefully acknowledges the help of the
collaborating individuals, but takes responsibility for any
errors within the text. Some of the observations related to
administrative problems also are his, and do not necessarily
reflect those of other team members.




Executive Summary ............................... i

Purpose of Synthesis ............................. 1

What FSR/E Is .. ................................. 1

History and Social-Economic Characteristics
of Suwannee and Columbia Counties: An
Overview ....................................... 4

Farming Systems: Clientele and Problem-Oriented
Research of the-FSR/E Team...................... 8
-- Development of the North Florida
FSR/E Project ....................... 8...... 8
-- The North Florida FSR/E Clientele ........... 12
-- Clientele Problems and Proposed
Alternatives Identified by the Team ......... 17
Management .................................... 23
Drought and Soil Compaction .................. 24
Grain Crops .................................. 25
Fertility .................................... 26
Forage Crops ........... .......... ....... ..... 26
Other Alternatives ..................... .. 26
Summary ....................................... 27

Discussion of Research Results ................... 30

Numbers of Cooperators................. ............ .. 37
-Institutional Collaborators .................. 37
-- Farmer Collaborators ....................... 39

Organization: Development, Problems
and Proposals ................................ 42

Development of Project ......................... 42
-- Team Administration ................ .0 .. ..... -42
-- Budgets ..................................... 47
-- Administrative Problems ......... 49
-- Synopsis of 1983. External Review ...... 53
-- References cited............................... 54

Executive Summary
Synthesis of North Florida Farming Systems
Research and Extension Project, IFAS,
University of Florida.


The major objectives of this work were 1) to synthesize the
data generated by the North Florida FSR/E Project to date,
including research findings from agronomic and socioeconomic
activities, and to describe the project's organizational
development, structure, and objectives; 2) to identify research
inconsistencies and problems capable of being rectified through
further programmed activities; and 3) to prepare a report to
serve as a basis for team documents and for evaluation purposes.
The University of Florida received USDA support in 1980 to
begin a domestic farming systems effort, supplemented by IFAS
funding and politically supported by a growing awareness of "the
plight of the small scale farmer." The report's sections
describe the region in which the project operates, the nature of
its clientele group, problems and constraints of the clientele
addressed by the,project, and the outcomes of research
activities to date. Administrative structure and problems are
discussed and budgets provided.


Agriculture is important to the Suwannee River Basin-where
the project operates. While agriculture provides roughly 20% of
the area's personal income, agricultural land makes up a major
part of the tax base. Farm household connections to the urban
sector through jobs, commerce, credit and the like are high.
Approximately 600 farm households in Suwannee and Columbia
counties form the North Florida FSR/E clientele. Major traits
characteristic of this clientele include (1) gross farm income
under $40,000, (2) tobacco and peanut acreages under 10 and 15
acres respectively, (3) high reliance on family labor and
reciprocal exchanges, and (4) high proportion of off-farm income
use. Approximately 80% of the clientele have been on the farm
two or more generations or have social connections to
established farm families. These connections provide them with
access to support networks and land, among other things. Newer
members of the clientele typically lack the degree of social
integration seen in established families. Limited management
time and cash flow are major constraints for both groups. While
profit motivated, these clients tend to choose production
strategies which are least risky to disruption of the total
household's stability and the goals of its members.
Production systems here include crop centered, livestock
centered, and mixed crop and livestock systems. Specially

crops, specially peanuts and tobacco are important. Most
clients practice diversified farming.
A survey (Sondeo), conducted in 1981, was used to classify
the clientele described. It also and most importantly
identified problems and constraints faced by the clientele. The
major bio-physical constraints are a result of the poor resource
base. Soil structure and native fertility are poor. Rainfall
is unreliable, and soil moisture retention is poor. Weed,
insect, and disease pressures are high. Socio-economic
constraints are a result of insufficient management time and
cash flow, exacerbated by unstable markets, changing government
policy and rising production costs.
The Sondeo focused the team's research efforts. Short range
objectives were delineated and research activities were designed
to meet them. The Sondeo focused the team's research efforts.
Short range objectives are designed primarily to increase the
profitability of current enterprises. To this end, the team has
attempted to find means of reducing costly farm inputs,
especially fertilizer; improving cash flow management; moving
away from energy-intensive systems; attacking hardpan problems;
developing intercropping systems; and improving information
transfer. Observations of farm practices determined production
techniques which the team needed to incorporate into its
research designs. In particular, these included planting
techniques, and varying fertilization timings and rates of
fertilizer used. Work began on-farm and station in the fall of
1981. Long range objectives include developing alternative
enterprises that will provide on-going stability for the farm


Farming systems is designed to rapidly and accurately
identify problems faced by the clientele, and proceed to develop
alternative and systemic solutions to those problems.

Problem Identification: 3 years of feedback from various
sources including farmers, review teams and collaborating
professionals has offered a general consensus that the FSR/E
work has rapidly and fairly accurately identified a number of
key problems faced by the clientele, and moved to find
alternative solutions to those problems. Useful technologies
have been tested with winter grains, tropical corn, as a result
of the fertility studies, and with perennial peanut.
Many of the alternatives investigated have been examined on
the basis of potential multiple uses (e.g., wheat production for
grazing and/or grain), variable management conditions and the
degree to which they meet management, capital, labor and other
constraints. In general, these solutions have been oriented
with the characteristics of the farming systems in mind, and
thus are systemic in nature. Many of the research activities
are designed to offer farmers alternatives which either reduce
their input costs, improve overall resource use, or replace

costlier enterprises.

Research Results to Date: Simplified record books were
made available the first year, and since modified. An
educational effort, directed largely at farm wives who commonly
manage the record books is now under way. The records have
provided excellent comparative data on production practices,
identified areas where research is needed and
to compare then own practices from an agronomic and economic
A simple, low-cost low horsepower requiring subsoiler was
developed the first year to break the soil hardpan. It has
potential use for planting summer grains in particular, and will
be used in planting tropical corn. Pigeon pea, having a long
tap root, was examined to see if it could break through the
hardpan. Varied management problems encountered with presently
available genotypes have eliminated this crop as a potential
alternative crop for the present.
Alternative grain and forage crops--amaranth, pigeon pea,
and alyceclover--were investigated on station. They all
experienced problems due to biophysical constraints. IFAS
researchers are continuing a selection and breeding program with
the two promising crops, alyceclover and pigeon pea.
Tropical corn was first planted on farm by the team in
1983. It faced severe insect and drought problems. Farmer
enthusiasm toward this corn type has spurred further testing of
cultivars, planting dates and fertilization practices. It
potentionally offers a good alternative to traditional corn
because of its higher resistance to weevil damage in storage, in
addition to its ability to grow and produce following summer
Winter grain work has been quite successful. Originally
examined as an alternative to corn, winter grains may be more
widely used in doublecropping systems and to supplement costly
winter forage. Wheat work concentrated on planting date,
fertility and grazing studies, resulting in recommendations
specific to the region on these practices. Wheat can be grazed
for 6 weeks in the region, and new varieties such as Florida 302
promise longer grazing. Triticale and new oat cultivars were
first examined in 1983-84. They offer greater frost- and
disease-resistance than other grains. Microelement trials
should provide sufficient data to make recommendations by late
Application of 80#/acre N on wheat was verified by 1982 and
now work is focusing on timing of application, especially
critical on the shorter season wheats being grown here in
Florida. Sulfer was identified as critical in 1982 and research
demonstrated the advantages of adding 20#/acre.
A research effort examining P, K, S and microelement
responses in wheat-soybean doublecropping systems has been going
on for 3 years in cooperation with agronomic and soils
scientists. Fertilization recommendations thus will soon be
available for operations which either monocrop or doublecrop.

Perennial peanut work has centered on finding ways of
establishing the crop in the area's deep sands, where weeds are
also prevalent. High costs of establishment may inhibit
adoption. Intercropping work in established stands showed
success with winter grains but not summer crops. Overseeding
oats into coastal bermuda sod, looked promising in'1984.
Further trials are planned. ,
Two graduate studies how in progress should identify better.
ways of reaching the clientele. A newsletter for small scale
producers is being produced and will be distributed at various
sites to test its effectiveness as a media for information
transfer. Slide-tape modules are also being developed for the
Cattle management studies are being discussed. A prototype
automatic gate opener is now being tested on farm controlling
grazing. This innovation could play a key role in pasture
grazing management.
During the period from FY 1984-1987, the IFAS Evaluation
Unit will conduct an evaluation of the FSR/E effort and the
Florida A and M University 1890s project. This effort will
provide good measurement data of FSR/E effectiveness in
generating appropriate technology for a small farm clientele.


The FSR/E team has cooperated with 20 research and 9
extension agents during 1983-84. An average of 6 students per
year have been affiliated with the project conducting some phase
of research.
The numbers of farmer contacts made by the team went from
66 in the original Sondeo to over 225 by spring, 1984.
Approximately 60 different farms have cooperated in on-farm
trials. The team has produced 30 papers or other publications
on the project-and research findings, with at least 8 more
forthcoming in 1984.


The Florida team began as a core of 2 faculty (Hildebrand,
French), 2 USDA appointees (Dean, Clough) and 5 graduate
students, supervised by the Deans for Extension, Research and
Resident Instruction, and a Technical Advisory Committee of
department deans and members of International Programs. Today,
the project has a multicounty agent (Swisher), and is largely
centered at the Live Oak Area Research Center, where much of the
station research is conducted. Research station staff perform
much of the work. This represents a movement towards
"regionalizing" FSR/E.
Extension agents play much greater roles in developing
FSR/E work plans and research designs than was true during the
first two years. Annual reviews have been held. since 1982 and
during 1983, an external review was also conducted. The


recommendations of that external team were favorable to
maintaining farming systems at Florida, though questions about
further institutionalization were raised.
The FSR/E project continues to face a number of
administrative/managerial problems, mostly related to turnover
of personnel. An individual in a long term position is needed
to maintain an updated data management system including field
trial and enterprise records. Questions about how members of
the project should be evaluated within the University system
need to be addressed.


This report was prepared by Dwight L. Schmidt, in collaboration
with the members of the North Florida FSR/E Project, in April,
1984. Drs. Peter Hildebrand, Edwin French and Mickie Swisher
provided major assistance to Dr. Schmidt.


This report represents a synthesis of the data generated by
the North Florida Farming Systems Project to date, including
research findings from station and on farm trials. It describes
the project's-organizational development and structure,
specifying how it determined its objectives and the degree to
which it has met said objectives over time.

The following sections describe the region in which the
project operates, the nature of its clientele group, problems
and constraints identified by the clientele which have been
addressed by the project, and the outcomes of research and
extension activities to date. Concluding sections present data
on the administration of the program, including financial
support, team structure, and managerial problems which have been


Farming systems is an holistic, interdisciplinary approach
to agrarian development. It is being used with varying degrees
of success in many Third World countries and in a limited but
growing number of cases in the United States. The holism of the
approach derives from the meaning of a "farming system." A
farming system is the phenomenon that results from the members
of each farm unit's unique interpretation of the natural and
socioeconomic environment in which they attempt to farm, as
influenced by available resources and those agronomic,,
biophysical and sociocultural factors affecting their decisions.
Farming systems teams work with "homogeneous farming systems"
once these have been identified in a region. The latter
represent sets of individual farm units sharing common
characteristics and problems to which a farming systems team can
direct its efforts.
A farming systems perspective draws upon social and
biological sciences in order to delineate and comprehend this
broad and dynamic context. The use of an interdisciplinary team
offers a greater probability of defining real problems and of
producing useful technological alternatives. The approach
maximizes knowledge gathering and interpretation and minimizes
time and costs involved in problem solving and dissemination of
new technologies. It achieves this by focusing on specific
problems and incorporating farmers into the research. The
approach differs from component research in that it recognizes
interactions between components (hence, a "system") and takes
these into account in proposing and evaluating technological

The public policy goal of farming systems is to improve the
food production capabilities of family farm units within the
context of their societal and biophysical environments. From
the farm unit's members' point of view, farming systems is
successful if it generates technologies which they adopt for
whatever reasons. The felt needs and desires of farmers and
their families are the focus of work.
As a development strategy, it takes a "bottom up"
orientation in which the members of farm units are the clients.
Decisions about research, technology design and agricultural
policy are formed through an understanding of farm
family/household goals, needs, resources and constraints.
The farming systems approach has structurally evolved to
the point where it necessarily encompasses two basic and
integrated components. These are known as the farming systems
approach to infrastructural support and policy--FSIP, and the
farming systems approach to technology generation (research) and
dissemination (extension)--FSR/E (Hildebrand and Waugh 1983).
FSIP is more "macro" than FSR/E, and because it deals with
policy, has been harder to implement and evaluate.
If farming systems examines the farm unit as a
sociocultural and economic whole, and therefore empirically
develops a systemic farm model, then as a perspective and
research procedure it is likewise systemic. Thus, FSIP can
influence the technology and dissemination component by
revealing infrastructural barriers to development and indigenous
support systems to which a farming systems team could become
connected. FSR/E can inform policy by revealing how farmers
manipulate resources that are available to them. Feedback loops
integrate the components; research and development flow both
"up" and "down" when farming systems is understood in its widest
meaning. It is this dynamic framework and the proper
functioning of a team of biological and social scientists that
potentially makes the farming systems approach so powerful a
tool for development.
As its name implies, FSR/E combines research and extension
activities. Farming systems research is conducted both on
station and on farm. On farm trials allow the testing of
technology under diverse management and environmental
conditions, while allowing the farmer to observe and participate
in the trial, thereby enhancing learning of the technology and
providing direct farmer evaluation. On farm trials can be
either researcher or farmer managed; the former are usually
conducted when the research is addressing basic questions, and
they are commonly supplemented by station trials.

The North Florida FSR/E Program

The North Florida Farming Systems Research/Extension
(FSR/E) Project initially was conceived as a "pilot" domestic
project. The purpose of the North Florida FSR/E Program is to
identify, develop, test and deliver appropriate technology for

limited resource farm households in north Florida.
The project cooperates with both research and extension
efforts in the region. The project is operated by a
interdisciplinary team consisting of social and agronomic
scientists, local extension personnel, and research scientists
from agricultural research stations and Gainesville.
The methodology employed by the project has five basic
steps. They are: 1) identify specific problems within
homogeneous farming systems on the basis of farm household
input; 2) generate alternative solutions to those problems; 3)
test promising solutions on farm; 4) evaluate acceptability of
solutions; 5) disseminate acceptable alternatives to population.
The most important evaluation criterion in the long run will be
the numbers of farmers adopting the technology developed or
validated by the FSR/E team.
The North Florida project began in 1980 when Peter
Hildebrand and Edwin French were given authority to organize a
domestic farming systems project. U.S.D.A. support for the
project was forthcoming. Selection of a region for research
followed by a survey (Sondeo) of smaller-scale farms there was
conducted in 1981. On farm testing began in the fall of that
year. A Sondeo is a relatively inexpensive, informal
interviewing technique conducted by interdisciplinary teams,
designed to gather baseline information on farm characteristics
and operational problems. Further details on the North Florida
Project are provided in ensuing sections. For information on
the Sondeo technique, refer to Hildebrand (1979a).


(1) The term "farm household" appropriately describes the north
Florida farm unit, as decisions about farming are made within
the context.of a family household. Household and 'farm expenses
are typically not distinguished; household labor, capital and
other resources are critically integrated into the farm
activities. Household membership is variable, ranging from
single adult units to extended families sharing land, labor and
"Farm" as used here refers to the production-economic
activities, as used in the census.
"Farmers" is employed in this report when its use better
fits the context.


Suwannee and Columbia counties were selected as the focus
for initial work by the North Florida FSR/E Program.
Agriculture has always been the major economic activity in this
region and, despite industrialization and declines in farm
numbers, it remains crucial to these counties' economies.
Historically, Suwannee and Columbia counties were located
peripherally to Florida's "plantation belt," which extended
north and west across the Panhandle and reached down into
Alachua and Marion counties. (See Figure 1.) Settlement by
Anglo-Americans began in the 1830s and quickly increased after
the Civil War ended. The pine and hardwood timber were
initially exploited, clearing lands which were put into farming.
Railroad and riverboat. access to these counties attracted farm
families, and by the late 19th century Live Oak and Lake City,
the county seats, were expanding towns serving an established
and largely independent hinterland agrarian populace. Farm
tenancy rates were lower in these counties than in many other
Florida counties, creeping upward only when the Depression hit
in the late 1920s.
Like much of the South, the early farm households in this
region combined subsistence with commercial production.
Subsistence crops included corn, potatoes, greens and other
vegetables, and a few livestock. Cash -crops included cotton,
and by the early 20th century, watermelons, winter produce and
vegetables for the town markets, and pecans. When cotton was
decimated by the boll weevil in the early 1900s, a combined
effort by Suwannee's leading farmers and town capitalists
(merchants and timber magnates) brought in flue-cured tobacco.
Tobacco farmers from the Carolinas were transported to Suwannee,
and a major warehouse was built. Live Oak rapidly became
Flor.ida's leading flue-cured tobacco market and the farms of
Suwannee and Columbia counties the leading flue-cured producers.

Mechanization, introduction of hybrids and chemical
fertilizers affected this region as they did nationally.
Tobacco production was slow to mechanize, but other
enterprises--especially corn--profited by "modern" agriculture.
As tobacco markets weakened in the 1950s, the town business
community once again acted to strengthen the agricultural base
by encouraging the development of livestock production. Farmers
were provided incentives to improve the quality of their cattle
and hogs, new breeds were introduced, and corn, the major animal
feed source, became a major cash crop.
During the 1960s, the region experienced a number of trends
towards enterprise specialization. Poultry operations were
established, wealthier white farm households moved into cattle
production, and the trend toward consolidating tobacco
allotments intensified. Some large farms developed irrigated,

"agro-industrial" corn production. On many smaller family
farms, diversity still predominated. Small farms tended to have
mixed livestock herds with but a few purebred stock, unirrigated
corn, and mixes of modern and older equipment.
The 1970s have proven to be a critical decade for
agriculture in the region. Strong export markets, rising land
values (related to migration into the area by former
urban-dwellers), and accessible credit encouraged farmers to
further capitalize their operations. In the late 1970s, a
series of droughts, stabilization of land values, declining
agricultural prices brought about by excessive national
production, declining world demand and consequent credit
restrictions reversed the trend, and farmers faced debt and
disturbing market prospects.
The early 1980s further saw changes in the tobacco and
peanut allotment systems, which have forced additional small
farmers from producing these crops. Corn production dropped
with continued weather problems and low prices, although the
P.I.K. program is expected in 1984 to result in increased
acreages planted compared to the past three.years. Soybeans and
wheat acreages are on the rise but soybeans is a capital
intensive crop. Farmers are still learning how to raise both
crops. Many farm households have off-farm income and have had
to pay debts through selling land, equipment or other farm
The local Chambers of Commerce and county commissions are
soliciting light industry capable of employing semi- and
unskilled labor, but industry has hesitated to locate there
because of limited infrastructure, poor schools,, and related
factors. Economicindicators suggest that the region will
strengthen its dependency upon industrial, as opposed to
agricultural, employment. Yet in the meantime, agriculture
remains important, and for many families it is a critical source
of income and a preferred lifestyle.
There were 1,140 farms in Suwannee and 589 farms in
Columbia according to the 1978 Census of Agriculture. Both
counties have experienced population increases in the rural
areas over the past decade. Suwannee's rural population
increased 78.2% between 1970 and 1980, and Columbia's increased
102.1% over the same time (U.S. Census of Population). Part of
this increase represents people establishing farms, mostly of
small acreage and the "hobby" type. These population influxes
helped to raise land values against which farmers borrowed
money. They have also led to the adoption of more restrictive
development legislation in the counties. In general, the
counties' established farm populations have been declining since
the end of World War II, a trend expected to continue.
The average age of the farm household head (as defined by
the census) was 50 years for Suwannee and 50.4 years for
Columbia. Average farm size, respectively, was 217 and 240
acres. These averages have remained relatively unchanged over
the past decade. Less than 15% of the farm households in either
county are black; black farm households tend to be concentrated
in small farm communities centered about old churches, and many

older white farm communities follow this pattern.
Farm operations in the region remain largely independent in
character, as ownership data reveal. Just over 68% of the farm
households in both counties own their farms; approximately 25%
are part-owners in both counties, and the remaining 6% are
tenants. Regarding the organization that runs the farm, both
counties are dominated by "individual" and "family" farms.
Approximately 83% of the farms in both counties are owned by-
individuals and/or families; close to 9% are in partnerships and
the remainder are in corporate holdings or institutional ones.
Major corporate holdings include large timber company tracts of
The following table presents the number of farms reported
in various farm size annual sales classes for 1978. It is
notable that the majority of farms in each county sold less than
$40,000, which makes them small by the definition used by many
farm agencies.

Table 1. Numbers of Farms by Farm Sales Class, 1978.

Sales Class Suwannee Columbia
No.Farm % of No.Farm % of
Sold total Sold total
$100,000+ 117 10.3% 32 5.4%
40-99,999 115 10.1 46 7.8
20-39,999 132 11.6 56 9.5
5-19,999 328 28.8 151 25.7
<4,999 446 39.2 303 51.5

Source: U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1979.

Major Production Enterprises

Crop enterprises generating the most agricultural income in
both Suwannee and Columbia counties include tobacco, corn, and
more recently, soybeans and wheat. Of these crops, tobacco
dominates. Wheat and soybeans continue to gain in importance.
The second highest income producer is poultry. Vegetable
production ranks third in Suwannee, and fifth in Columbia.
Cattle production is fourth in Suwannee but third in Columbia.
Other livestock (mainly hogs) are ranked fifth and fourth
respectively (Gordon and Mulkey 1977). Timber production is
being encouraged in the region and many farmers are presently
taking advantage of A.S.C.S. credit to plant pines.
While these statistics indicate enterprise value, they say
little about numbers of farm units participating in each
enterprise. Poultry operations to a small
proportion of the farm population, for example; hogs are
produced on a majority of farms while cattle are largely found
on white farms producing pasture and summer grains. These
following statistics, collected for Suwannee County in 1982 by
the extension office there, indicate the percentage distribution

of farm enterprises.

Table 2. Distribution of Enterprise Systems in
Suwannee County, 1982.

System type Percentage of Farms

tobacco only 7.0
tobacco/other 14.0
cattle only 20.2
corn/hog 5.9
corn only 16.9
hog/other 26.8
misc. other 11.2

Source: Suwannee County Extension Service and Chamber of
Commerce survey, 1982.

Relation to Larger Economic Sector

In 1978, agriculture remained the number one revenue
producing sector in Suwannee, Government ranked first in
Columbia with 30.3% of the total revenue. These figures obscure
the true economic importance of agriculture because they do not
measure importance of agriculture to the other industries.
Besides supplying town labor, farm households are sources
of seasonal employment to youth, elderly and those town laborers
who cannot find full-time employment. Working on a farm teaches
useful agricultural and mechanical skills which are not likely
to be obtained in traditional academic educational settings.
These observations further do not measure other exchanges
of great economic value. These include social support such as
health care and provisioning, gardening, exchange of produce,
reciprocal labor and equipment exchanges, land sharing, kin
credit loans, and unreported income from roadside sales, to name
the most important ones. -These activities take place to some
degree on virtually every farmstead in the region.
If political statements are a valid basis for assessing
farming's importance to an -economy, then the 1982 election
rhetoric indicates that farm households in .the region are its
"lifeblood." Farmers commonly win election to county commission
and school board seats, and their interests importantly guide
development policy.
In conclusion, agriculture continues to have a major social
and economic influence on the region. Many activities of
importance to the local community, such as the county fairs, the
4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs, church gatherings and
family get-togethers, have agricultural bases. Many rural
industries depend upon a farmer clientele. Extended families in
the rural areas support each other with aid, food exchanges and
care when someone is ill. These observations justify research
and extension activities oriented towards farmers in the region.



The North Florida FSR/E Project has a history dating to the
late 1970s, with interest in the approach among some
administrators in IFAS extending back to the early 1970s. It
was in these early years that International Programs in IFAS,
under the leadership of Hugh Popenoe, began to develop a strong
interdisciplinary focus.
Certain key individuals, later to play roles in developing
farming systems at Florida, were already involved in
interdisciplinary work in developing countries. There, they
made their initial connections with one another. Peter
Hildebrand, an agricultural economist, worked with Chris Andrew,
also trained in economics, in Colombia on a University of
Nebraska contract. Andrew later moved into International
Programs as assistant director to Hugh Popenoe. Both helped in
bringing Hildebrand and farming systems to Florida. Hildebrand
first made contact with Edwin French in El Salvador, on a
project directed by the University of Florida. French, then
serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, was trained in horticulture
and agronomy and was to become the North Florida Project's team
administrator. He and Hildebrand experimented with
multicropping systems in El Salvador which later became widely
used in the region.
In the mid-1970s, Hildebrand joined the Rockefeller
Foundation and moved on to ICTA, in Guatemala, where he
pioneered the Sondeo and other farming systems techiques. There
he worked with Romiro Ortiz, an agronomist at ICTA, who was
later to come to Florida to work on his doctoral degree. French
had meanwhile returned from El Salvador to obtain his doctoral
degree at Texas A and M, then went to Bolivia, under a Florida
contract. Around the same time (late 1970s), Marilyn Swisher,
trained in geography and soils science and who was one of
Popenoe's students, began research at CATIE, in Costa Rica,
where she associated with Francisco Romero, an animal scientist
who also was to come to Florida to obtain his doctorate.
This was the state of affairs when Florida initiated
establishment of a farming systems project in the late 1970s. In
December, 1979, Hildebrand, still with the Rockefeller
Foundation, arrived at Florida to discuss farming systems with
IFAS faculty and prepare to teach a course on the subject while
on Sabbatic leave. Hildebrand was asked by IFAS administrators
to develop a domestic and international farming systems program

for Florida,. The International Programs faculty submitted a
white paper to the administration in January, 1980, supporting
the establishment of a farming systems project at Florida. The
paper represented a summary of thinking about "how Florida might
capture experience from international work with small farmers to
address the State's concerns for this client group as well as
for low energy systems" using a farming systems approach.
Departments expressing interest in development of such a project
included Agronomy, Anthropology, Animal Science, Entymology and
Nematology, Food and Resource Economics, Forestry, Vegetable
Crops and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Hildebrand taught his course in farming systems methodology
during Spring, 1980. George-Clough, Dwight Schmidt and James
Dean, who later played key roles in the administration and/or
operation of the North Florida Project, were in the class. A
preliminary Sondeo (survey) of Alachua County farms was
performed by the class,, providing evidence for the effectiveness
of the method. Meanwhile, Live Oak Agricultural Research
Station was mentioned as a possible research base for work in
north Florida, where small farms were known to be numerous.
By April, 1980, major components of a farming systems
project at Florida were tentatively identified by involved
faculty. They included: 1) a Domestic FSR/E Project, working on
problems of small farmers, scarce resource problems and energy
technologies which affect commercial producers and smaller ones
alike; 2) an international training center teaching students and
visiting administrative and planning personnel how to conduct
FSR/E work, and providing consultancy to governments and
development agencies; 3) involvement in international projects,
includ-ing teaching FSR/E courses in foreign countries.
During the following summer, Art Hansen coordinated a
full-scale survey of Alachua County's smaller scale farmers,
expanding upon Hildebrand's class' farming systems work. During
this time, department chairmen Charles Dean (Agronomy), Don
Maynard (Vegetable Crops) and Leo Polopolous (FRED) agreed to
the FSR/E Project concept in a formal memorandum to
Vice-President of Agricultural Affairs Tefertiller, Dean of
Extension Woeste, and Dean of Research Wood, provided budgetary
problems could be negotiated. They proposed that Hildebrand
coordinate the domestic FSR/E Project, joined by Edwin French,
then working in Bolivia. The FSR/E domestic team would begin
work in Alachua County, concentrating on problems such as
vegetable marketing, intercropping systems, and minimum tillage
systems. These areas were already of concern to the three
departments. FSR/E would coordinate relationships between the
supporting departments.
In October, 1980, Hildebrand offered a "Strategy for
Developing a Farming Systems Research and Extension Project in
IFAS." The paper listed three objectives for a domestic FSR/E
Project. They were "1) determine the appropriateness of FSR/E
methodology to help solve problems of small, limited resource or
'left-behind' farmers under Florida (and U.S.) agricultural
conditions; 2) to the extent the methodology can be changed to
fit domestic conditions or improved for foreign locations,


modify the FSR/E procedures to make them more effective; 3)
through technology generation or modification, help
'left-behind' farmers improve their farm operation by means
which fit within their resource constraints and the available or
modifiable infrastructure." Field trials could begin as early
as February, 1981 should the project be approved, Fig. 1.


July .* t. G t. o c. l Jam. Mch APril Jne SeaW Oct. 04. Ja. MIarch Ari June Sip. Oct.- ot.

: CPli lawi oId
TI of oTrials I I Tr~i l~s l A/
{?lri:. ] s d IaI rrei>ar aad aca Aenlo "l st //////a// F//// //// /
[Itagignt A cgiltios. Tull.. 0- tlol //// // // '/// ///, ,"/ f f // /'/ ,'/
IFrul. oa ad W / Tie Track
lteae, track, I sHf///t
trl 1 a. FIeld T- I 'j."
I Co ea tie e. I Set State
Percuecage Io Proitle runJId l.oces* (I)
Softl Sltae fiunds -

r t //////!/ T--

Figure 1. Initial North Florida FSR/E Team Programming

'Te paper also discussed international farming systems work
at Florida, including technical assistance to foreign projects
and training to be conducted through Florida faculty.
USDA/OICD (William Hoofnagle, Don Fergusen) approved initial
funding support for a domestic FSR/E Project at Florida shortly
.afterwards. (The funding was later extended to cover a three
year period.) French then joined the project. By the end of
October, during an administrative meeting, questions were raised
as to how farming systems differs from what IFAS presently is
doing. These differences were suggested: 1) FSR/E offers a more
collective and interdisciplinary (versus a
departmental/commodities) approach; 2) it offers better
integration at the delivery point of technology to the farm; 3)
it pays greater attention to social variables; and 4) it goes
beyond farm management in that it considers technology and
constraints of the system as variables to be addressed by
research.. The point was underscored that the approach is not
intended to change what IFAS is doing, but only to "zero in" on
specific farm needs, especially those of small-scale farms.

An administrative decision followed to proceed with a
survey of farms. Vice President Kenneth Tefertiller.named
Hildebrand as coordinator of the IFAS farming systems program in
December, 1980, and appointed an administrative coordinating
committee and a technical advisory committee. The former
consisted of the deans for extension, research and resident
instruction, and the latter of departmental chairpersons, headed
by Chris Andrew. At this time, James Dean and George Clough
were hired as core team members on USDA funds. A Pre-Sondeo was
then conducted in a six county area of north Florida, after a
decision to move the project out of Alachua County was made.
Before the survey, a meeting was held in Live Oak with extension
agents to familiarize them with the procedure and purposes of
the survey. The counties surveyed included Jefferson, Hamilton,
Union, Madison, Suwannee and Columbia. Because of the proximity
of the latter two and prevalence of small farms there, they were
selected to be the sites of an intensive Sondeo.
The Sondeo was conducted between June 18-July 27, 1981.
Approximately four 2-person teams averaged 3 days a week in the
field surveying farms; a total of 66 interviews were conducted (Fig. 2).
By July 29, a classification system of the farm households was
completed, and major problems and constraints faced by them
identified (see next section). It was September 1, 1981 when the
team received word that the project would be funded by the
State. Two weeks later, the FSR/E team produced its final
Sondeo Report on Suwannee and Columbia County farming systems.
The groundwork was laid to begin developing and testing
alternative technologies for the identified clientele.

LI ~r
+~a \
=U~- \

Figure 2. Map of North Florida

FSR/E Research Area.

The Technical Advisory Committe of department chairmen
reviewed the Sondeo and budget during the fall of 1981,
providing input to the farming systems team and Administrative
Coordinating Committee of the project.
The team began to distribute "Update" reports on its
activities to IFAS faculty shortly after research commenced.
The first on-farm trials involved winter wheat. The first
meeting the team held with farmers concerned the outcome of the
wheat trials, and was conducted during June, 1982. Also in this
month, the First Annual In-House Review occurred, providing the
opportunity for extension agents and researchers to critique the
team's efforts. By the fall of the first full year of research,
the first graduate student thesis projects done with the team
were completed. The team presented reports of its activities at
the Florida Soils and Crop Sciences Annual Meetings in
Tallahassee. Also in 1982, Florida became the lead institution
in the Agency for International Development Farming Systems
Support Project.
In January, 1983, Marilyn Swisher of the FSR/E team was
appointed a multi-county agent, strengthening the team's
connection with extension. Figure 2 summarizes these
During July, 1983, a Second Annual Review was held, this
time involving an external review team which recommended
continuance of the FSR/E Project and further expansion.
An evaluation design of the project was approved in June,
1984, and evaluation procedures are planned to be initiated
during the summer of 1984.


Orientation Towards Small Scale Farmers

Administrators within IFAS encouraged the North Florida
FSR/E team to orient its activities towards smaller scale,
limited resource farm households. This orientation inherently
paralleled farming system projects in many developing nations.
Interest in small scale farm problems expressed by the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (OICD) and the State of Florida also
further directed program focus on small farm sector.
The team has found it difficult to arrive at an
economic-based definition of the clientele, such as is used by
federal agencies to separate farm classes. Farm size, measured
in acreage and/or sales, did not necessarily separate farms in a
useful manner for the team. Relying upon economic definitions
of "small farms" excludes recognition of motivational and
sociocultural factors and of inadequate technology available for
smaller scale producers which influence observed agricultural
practices by members of this class. Motivational, socioeconomic
and technological factors associated with the FSR/E clientele
are discussed below.
Prior to describing the clientele group, it is helpful to
identify those farmers with whom the team predominantly excludes

interacting with on a research basis. When the Sondeo was
initially conducted, the team was uncertain about specific
criteria distinguishing farms by scale in the region. Team
members agreed to avoid contacting farms having large acreages
as represented on plot maps, farms with numerous modern tobacco
bulk barns, farms with large grain storage bins, large
mechanical equipment and irrigation rigs, and farms which
appeared to be of the "hobby" type. Today, any or all of the
following criteria exclude a farm operation from consideration
as FSR/E "clientele": tobacco acreage exceeding 10 acres, peanut
acreage exceeding 15 acres, total acreage farmed exceeding 400
acres, gross income exceeding $40,000 annually. In general, the
team additionally avoids cattle producers with herds exceeding
200 head, grain producers capable of irrigating hundreds of
acres, farmers with sizable acreages of specialty crops like
watermelons and vegetables, "hobby farmers" and owners of small
"ranchettes." In 1984, an estimated 600 farm households in
Suwannee and Columbia counties could be included in the FSR/E

The Clientele

The characteristics descriptive of the clientele group in
general include these:

--households whose members would prefer to farm full-time
but commonly must work off-farm to meet the needs of the family,
which are primary;

--limited management ability due to shortage of time or
other factors.

--access to capital and specifically capital flow is

--rely upon family labor in many instances, and wives are
typically responsible for much of the farm work, especially

--view of farming dwells on the importance of the land
(identity with and ownership of it).and of farming as a
preferred lifestyle, rather than the farm as a business solely;

--while profit motivated, often choose strategies designed
to assure maintenance of this lifestyle, ie. minimize risk of
losing farm, rather than maximize profit;

--make use of reciprocal exchanges with kin and neighbors;

--tend to operate mixed -crop/livestock systems to create

more even yearly cash flow'and distribute risk.

--use older, low horsepower equipment, which has long since
depreciated and is relatively easily repairable on farm;

--in most instances do not deal with futures markets,
forward contracting, or crop -insurance (except on the most
lucrative crops);

--possess little political clout and ability to alter
market conditions.

The FSR/E team characterized the clientele on the basis of
socioeconomic (social identity, race and length of residency in
county) and production (enterprise mix) traits. Socioeconomic
classification took precedence, because social and cultural
factors, particularly race and residency, clearly influenced
production factors on these farms, such as access to land, labor
and capital.
Socioeconomic classification broke down as follows: 86.4%
of the original sample had been on the farm two or more
generations and/or had social (principally marital) ties to
established farm households and local networks. These networks
provided them with access to land and other resources, and gave
them identity -- i.e., they "fit into" the traditional Southern
rural communities. The team classified them as "old-line."
The remaining 13.6% were classified as "recently-
established" farm households. The members of this class were
peripheral to local community support networks and often lacked
full access to the resources provided among established farm.
households, the most important of which were land and shared
Racially, over 60% of the sample was white. Blacks
represent nearly 40% of the sample, and based on county
statistics are overrepresented in this class. Swisher, based on
discussions with local agents and additional farm household
contacts over the last three years, estimates they may actually
represent only about 10% of the clientele. Most of the farmers
had mixed crop/livestock systems; blacks had a higher proportion
of crop-dominated systems and whites a higher proportion of
livestock-dominated systems.
Crop systems were dominated by cash grain production, with
individual farms raising combinations of tobacco or peanuts,
watermelons, and/or vegetables. Mixed systems were dominated by
grain/swine or grain/cattle systems. The major grain component
of these systems was corn, though wheat has come to be an
important grain component in recent years. Livestock systems
primarily were cow/calf operations, with genetically-mixed
Vegetables, raised primarily for home use, were found on
76% of the surveyed farms; corn, which was both sold and used as
feed, was found on 76% of the farms; and hogs were found on 58%
of the farms. See Table 3.


Table 3.

Classification of Clientele Sampled
in the 1981 Sondeo.

Farm Unit Type Number Percent

Old-Line 57 86.4

White 31 47
--Crop 1 1.5
--mixed 19 28.8
--livestock 11 16.7

Black 26 39.4
--crop 11 16.7
--mixed 13 19.6
--livestock 2 3.1

Recently-Est'd 9 13.6

White 9 13.6
--crop 3 4.5
--mixed 3 4.5
--livestock 3 .4.5

The following traits distinguish between the farms on the
basis of socioeconomic differences. These are general
differences. Many newer farm units were established on the
basis of one major enterprise, such as grain, hogs, or cattle,
requiring heavy initial investments. Their members tend to be
better educated than old-line farm household members, and to
have spent more time in urban places and positions. However,
many children in old-line households are leaving the farm to
obtain an education and employment until they can come back to
the farm and either take over its management or purchase land
for themselves.

Table 4.

Selected Characteristics of "Recently
Established" and "Old-Line" farmers.
(Adapted from Sondeo, 1981.)

Farm Group
Characteristics Old-Line Recently Established







inherited or
purchased from
family; av.
holding 184 ac.

family labor;
more assured
own/share equipt.

low cash flow
low indebtedness
land as collateral;
informal loan

open market pur-
chases; av. holding
196 ac.

hired labor;
*uncertain avail-
availability; purchase
or hire equipt.

high cash flow
high indebtedness

institutionalized loan

The data presented above-have been verified by extension
agents and continued research in the region. The initial survey
established the existence of a clientele who desired to farm but
faced many problems in doing so. The farm household members
interviewed were interested in a program focused on their needs
and willing to incorporate their opinions into the research
design. The nature of the problems they faced is the subject of
the next section.
Most of the on farm work conducted by the FSR/E team has
involved old-line farm households, reflecting the predominance
of this group within the clientele.


Problems and Critical Constraints Identified in the Sondeo

Farming systems projects must be able to identify
homogeneous farming systems on the basis of both internal
systemic qualities (that is, common enterprises, common
socioeconomic and cultural variables, similar ecological
conditions) and common problems faced by the farmers. Problem,
as used here, refers to any condition for which an alternative
is desired, or to a parameter value which needs to be
identified. The Sondeo identified the existence of a number of
problems faced by the clientele. Many cut across all three
classifications of production systems, while some were
restricted to one type. The major problems included:

--rising costs of fertilizers; (poor soil fertility
prevails across all production systems)

--erosion, caused by strong winds in Spring and loose
topsoil conditions (crop, mixed systems)

--market difficulties, including variable or low prices,
and limited outlets, (all production systems)

--difficulties in obtaining credit because of other
restrictions, e.g., bank policies requiring the farmer to have
crop insurance before making a loan, ridig production guidelines
or land which is tied up in heirs estate and cannot be used as
collateral (all production systems)

--insufficient or even annual cash flow (particularly crop

--poor quality of labor (primarily crop systems)

--lack of alternative crops to corn, tobacco; lack of a
stable grain crop (primarily crop, mixed systems)

--high costs of winter pasture and feed supplement (mixed,
livestock systems)

--management time (all production systems)

--poor access to and/or knowledge about appropriate
information and its sources (all production systems)

--unpredictable character of federal legislation regarding
allotment systems, credit, market price supports and pesticide
use (particularly crop systems)

--lack of sufficient grain production to meet year-round
on-farm feed requirements (mixed, livestock systems)

--lack of high quality forage throughout the year.

--disease and insect damage, including high populations of
Snematodes in soil (crop, mixed systems)

Talks with extension agents supplemented this list to include:

--livestock breeding and pest problems (mixed, livestock

--difficulties in understanding soil fertilization
recommendations (crop, mixed systems)

--problems with fertilization timing and rates (crop, mixed

--lack of good and/or inexpensive veterinary services,
leading farmers to experiment with treatments (mixed, livestock

--high parasitism and infant mortality rates among hogs,
due to poor facilities and farmers' beliefs-that improvements
are not economical (mixed, livetsock systems)

Many of these problems are related to the kinds of
constraints to which farm households in the region are subject.
The most critical constraints operating on the clientele as
identified in the Sondeo are now presented. They may be divided
into endogenous types, or those which can be directly modified
by the farm unit, and exogenous types, or those beyond the farm
unit's direct ability to change. The term constraint as used
here refers to any condition or practice which limits the
achievement of some goal.

Endogenous Constraints

Two major endogenous constraints were identified --
management, time and capital.
Management time is a constraint because most members of the
clientele have off-farm employment, or rely upon the labor of
family members who cannot devote full time to the farm. The
steady and higher wages offered by town employment draws youth
away; black youth particularly leave the rural area. The
consistency of town wages makes dependency upon such income
critical for many households. The diversity of enterprises
likewise places seasonally excessive demands on management time.

These conditions may interfere with the ability to obtain and
process information about farming and the household.
Capital is a constraint because the farm households must
make monetary decisions on the basis of meeting family needs
rather than maximizing farm profit. That is, they make
decisions designed to avoid high risk and consequent debt, and
to provide income consistent with household demand throughout
the year. Many spend only if they have cash "on hand." Cash
transactions are preferred, because money represents immediate
payment, and/or because bank-like transactions are neither
trusted (they signify formal debt)' nor understood.
Despite the preference to avoid excessive debt, debt is a
problem on most farms. One reason is the lack of records and
consequent ignorance of actual cash flow through the year.
Record keeping tends to be done only for the most lucrative
crops. Farm expenses are not separated from household expenses
in most households.
.Another reason relates to federal credit policies and land
values. Increasing land values, the result of migration into
the region, improved the collateral farm households used towards
obtaining low interest disaster loans offered by the government
in the 1970s. Land prices are now dropping, and farm businesses
and the government, realizing the severity of over indebtedness
are raising interest rates and in cases reducing repayment
periods. Private banks, once the primary lenders to farmers,
are removing themselves from loaning to this high risk group or
restricting loans to the larger, 'more credit-worthy' farm
Labor does not appear to be a universal constraint, as
family members are widely used and seasonal labor is available.
In households where youth are few or absent, this situation
forces farmers to hire labor or cut back production,
concentrating, e.g., on livestock, which has a lower labor
requirement. Land is not a constraint for old-line farm units,
but is for new farmers who pay full market value for it. Land
is usually inherited within established farm families or
purchase arrangements made at low interest rates and long term
payback periods. Land and cattle are a major source of
collateral for all farmers.

Exogenous Constraints

Two major types of exogenous constraints were identified --
1) soils, with poor native soil fertility, low pH, and
associated low moisture holding capacity; and 2) infrastructural
(largely market) limitations.
The region as a whole suffers from poor native soil
fertility and low pH. The soils consist primarily of sands with
scattered pockets of clay. Drought occurs in early summer and
late fall, and spring winds additionally cause erosion. The
presence of a plow pen is common to many farms resulting in
shallow root systems. This problem exacerbates the effects of
drought and effectively lowers crop yield. During rainy

periods, nutrients are quickly. leached from the soils.
Micronutrient deficiencies is not uncommon. Farmers are thus
faced with heavy fertilization in order to achieve yields
equivalent to 1/2 to 1/3 the yield common to the Midwest.
Considering only fertilizer and fuel costs which have risen
dramatically over the past decade and variable market prices,
the profit margin is extremely slim when compared to midwest
The infrastructural constraints are varied. There are
limited vegetable market opportunities; local market demand is
easily saturated by local~production forcing farmers to distant
markets. The recent changes in the tobacco and peanut allotment
systems (the latter was eliminated) and changes in grading and
marketing policies have tended to force small farm households
out of these enterprises. Livestock markets are unstable and
given limited sources of animal feed, it is risky to initially
invest in livestock. Volume sales enables the Midwest to
dominate grain and livestock markets, determining the market
price feedstuffs cost. This has a dominating influence on
expected net profit of a Florida livestock producer. Finally,
credit tends to be extended on the basis of whether farmers
follow recommended practices designed to achieve maximum yields,
rather than practices to assure some returns given the
constraints just described.
Constraints may interact with one another. For example,
exogenous constraints have further constrained management.
Droughts during recent years have made it difficult for a farmer
to decide when to plant and fertilize. Part time farmers must
take advantage of free time to perform a particular management
practice with the risk of failure because the time was not
opportune, e.g. planting in a dry period. Other farmers, not so
constrained, .will plant over a period of time so that at least
part of the crop makes. Infrastructural conditions affect both
management and capital constraints. Federal legislation has
periodically changed credit policies, for example, and farm
policy has delayed when markets open and consequently left farm
household members guessing as to what, when and how much to


Farm Strategies Employed in Meeting
Problems and Constraints.


of resources



Need for


Need for

-low-management livestock systems
-distribute labor and record-keeping
among family members
-concentrate on critical enterprises and
reduce time spent on minor needs
-utilize reciprocal exchange systems

-sell livestock ("money in the bank")
-borrow from kin
-participate in barter, non-reported
income activities
-obtain off-farm employment
-delay making repairs
-sell land, if not in use, at urban values
-rent land
-leave farming

-space plantings over time
-lower plant population
-employ different varieties with varying
drought tolerance traits
-withhold fertilizer until crop is established
-reduce cultivation to conserve moisture
-alter planting date
-try new cultivars or crops

-try new crops

-wait until crop is established to fertilize
to reduce risk of poor weather or failure
to establish; reduces leaching losses since
establishment assures better use of

-try new crops
-utilize native forages to cut expenses
-reduce herd size if constrained

Implications of Survey Results

These findings led the FSR/E team to select certain
problems for research and to delay work on or exclude others.
Delayed work and exclusions were based upon estimations that

Table 5.


Problem tratecie

alternative solutions for the particular problem could not be
achieved in a timely fashion, and/or required additional support
not immediately available to the team. The problems the team
excluded were the following:

--alternative vegetable markets and, relatedly, vegetable
technologies. The team lost its only vegetable specialist
during the second year. Market problems need to be worked out
before new technologies would be acceptable in the region. The
team is sharing information with the 1890s agents in the two
counties who work with vegetable producers. (Note: Observations
since 1981 indicate increasing interest among clientele members
in vegetables. Many planted small acreages the products of
which were sold at roadside stands.and local markets. Work in
this area should be considered in the future.)

--general grain and livestock market conditions. For the
time being, the team is seeking alternatives which are feasible
within the region's present market structure.

--changes in the allotment systems. Small farmers are
getting out of peanut and tobacco production anyway.

--labor quality. This is not problematic for many family
farmers who use family labor.

--federal market and credit policies. The team at present
has little experience or influence in these areas.

--pests and diseases. The team has avoided working on
pesticides but is investigating more disease resistant crops.
Farmers do not commonly use pesticides on their agronomic crops.

The team summarized the needs of the clientele into "short"
and long" range research objectives.. Short range objectives are
those which could be addressed immediately, while long range
required further research or depended upon external changes made
in the market or agricultural policy sectors. This
summarization follows.

Table 6. Identified Short and Long Range
Objectives of the FSR/E Program.

Short Range Long Range

reduce inputs new crops for area

cash flow management new markets

alternatives to energy- new forage systems
intensive systems

attack hardpan problems vegetable systems

intercropping systems rotation systems

N-fixing crops N-fixing crops

information transfer improve overall transfer

The Sondeo helped to identify existing production
strategies which should be incorporated into the team's research
activities. Knowledge of existing practices allowed the team
to do two things: 1) focus on alternative technologies that are
appropriate considering present practices and constraints; and
2) compare cost and managerial factors of traditional to
proposed innovative practices. listed below are several types
of activities undertaken by the team.

--examinations of variable times of planting and
fertilization,including single versus multiple fertilizations
(Used in the small grains trials.)

--examinations of variable fertilizer rates, especially N,
K, S, and microelements

--examination of liming practices

--determining the degree to which alternative winter grains
could be grazed, such as is done with rye and oats

--compare tropical corn to traditional corn

--using low horsepower tractor for subsoiling

Proposed Alternatives

The Sondeo led the team to identify five major problem
areas to be researched. They are management, soil compaction,
grain crops, fertilization requirements, and forage crops. The
general kinds of alternatives which the FSR/E team initially
considered under each specific problem area are described below.
Actual research projects initiated since 1981 are listed
following the discussion of alternatives under "FSR/E Research."


PROBLEM: The fact that many members of the clientele group work
off-farm means that management time is a constraint. It may be

the single most limiting constraint, especially if other family
members likewise have limited time to devote to farmwork.

ALTERNATIVES: Proposed alternatives needed to reduce or simplify
management time and activities if possible, or make existing
management more efficient. Efforts have been made to find ways
of reducing management and assessing management effects on yield
for traditional crops. New alternative enterprises have
similarly been investigated by the team because'of*their
potential for reducing the overall management demands.on the

FSR/E Related Research: farm budgets; time of planting and
fertilization trials on winter grains; fertilization trials in
doublecropping systems; perennial peanut

PROBLEM: Cash inputs are a constraint. Farmers presently tend
to be overborrowed (many from disaster loans) against land
prices which are beginning to decline. Many do not prepare
enterprise budgets and consequently ar not aware of the extent
to which they are losing or making money per enterprise. Income
tends to be concentrated in the summer with major cash outlays
in the spring and fall. Predicting and planning to meet cash
flow needs are difficult.

ALTERNATIVES: Developed simplified budget forms for farmers to
use. Efforts are being made to determine where input costs can
be cut in order to meet economical, rather than biological,
optimums of production on new and traditional crops.
Alternative crops that require less capital inputs and
distribute cash flow to other times of the year are being

FSR/E Related Research: Farm budgets; economics of wheat
grazing; fertilization trials on winter grains, summer crops;
perennial peanut

Drought and Soil Compaction

PROBLEM: Drought has been problematic in the region for years.
The late spring especially is dry, and corn faces a 40% chance
of drought induced stress (Renner 1982). Sandy soils do not
retain moisture. Drought induced corn crop failure is a majr
problem. Renner (1982) shows that there is a 40% probability of
drought induced cron crop failure for corn planted in Feb. and
Marc. Yet, farmers are forced to fo to earlier plantings
because typical hybrid will not withstand insect pressure and
weed competition when planted later.

ALTERNATIVES: Two potential solutions to this problem have been
considered. One is to find crops which fit into the needs of
the farm but which are not grown during traditional periods of

low rainfall. The other is to find a means of improving the
substrate's ability to retain moisture, such as by using a
ground cover crop.

FSR/E RELATED RESEARCH: tropical corn, winter grain trials;
perennial peanut

PROBLEM: There is a hardpan layer found at a depth between
12-14" on many farms in the region. This hardpan effectively
prohibits roots from reaching soil moisture below this layer
during the early summer dry period. Compaction from equipment
enhances this problem.

ALTERNATIVES: Two potential solutions to this problem have been
investigated: cultural practices involving the use of an
inexpensive, low horsepower "home-made" subsoiler rig, and
agronomic crops capable of penetrating the hardpan because of
their powerful and long tap roots.

FSR/E Related Research: subsoiling practices on corn;
alternative crops

Need for Grain Crops

PROBLEM: The prevalence of livestock on these farms means grain
crops are a key component of the system. Cash grains have also
been major staple enterprises in crop systems. Traditional corn
was the most widely used cash grain and livestock feed source,
and had the advantage.of multiple use: sale, storage, animal
feed. Droughts, rising production costs, national
overproduction and diseases have made farmers wary of raising

ALTERNATIVES: Two possibilities were identified by the team: 1)
alternative summer grain crops that were more drought tolerant
and/or were planted during period with greater rainfall but had
the multiple use functions of corn; 2) winter grain crops which
could be followed by a summer crop. Winter grains would not
face the drought, disease and insect problems that summer crops

FSR/E Related Research: 1) alternative grains and forage crops:
amaranth; pigeon pea; tropical corn; consideration was given to
sorghum; corn overseeding into perennial peanut
2) winter wheat for forage and/or grain; winter wheat time of
planting and fertilization trials; winter grain (wheat, oats,
triticale) variety trials; winter grain overseeding into
perennial peanut


PROBLEM: Fertilization problems in Florida include the need to
apply high levels of N nd K additionally, micronutrient
deficiencies may exist. There is a need to determine the most
economical time and rate of application of N d K many new crops
appearing in the region. Recommendations for traditional crops
may also be uneconomical and perhaps could be changed.

ALTERNATIVES: Instead of recommending fertilization practices
which achieved the highest yield, research was focused upon
determining fertilization practices more in line with the
region's biophysical constraints and farmers' capital and
managerial limitations. Work has involved examining major
elements (N, P, K, S) as well as micronutrients (particularly
Mn, Zn).

FSR/E Related Research: wheat fertilization trials -- timing of
N and K application, micronutrient trials; wheat-soybean
doublecrop fertilization trials; wheat N and K rate trials;
nutrient recycling and small grain overseeding in perennial
peanut and recently initiated work with hairy indigo.

Need for Forage Crops

PROBLEM: Forage costs continue to rise in the region, related to
fertilizer expenses. In the typical cow-calf operation forage
is the major expense.

ALTERNATIVES: High quality but low cost forages are desired.
There have been two alternatives researched: 1) forages and
forage systems that additionally provide a grain crop; 2)
forages that do not yield grain but are very low cost once

FSR/E Related Research: 1) winter wheat; small grains overseeded
into perennial peanut; winter grain variety trials
2) perennial peanut; 3) overseeding trials into grass pastures
4) hairy indigo grass mixed pasture.


The biophysical and economic "marginality" of the research
region severely affects agriculture. Yet the economic and
social importance of farming to the local economies is
significant. We can expect farmers to employ a variety of
strategies in trying to maintain a farmstead, from exploring new
crop alternatives to reducing expenses wherever possible to


mixing farming with town employment. In reality, full time
farmig is not now nor is it apt to be an alternative for the
vast majority of these farmers. A successful program however
should be defined as one that provides alternatives within the
framework of the part-time farm. Such alternatives must be
economical of management time. Today, off-farm income often
goes to support the farm. On the future, hopefully, the farm
Swill itself make a positive contribution to family income.
A short-term solution to farm problems involves reducing
management time and capital demands. Unless a truly profitable
enterprise system is developed however, farmers wilt continue to
rely upon non-farm income sources. This expectation leads to
this conclusion: there is a need for integrated agricultural and
urban-industrial development. Already, the Chambers of Commerce
in the region are seeking to attract light-scale industry. The
appearance of such industry would probably help to stabilize
land values, allow younger people to remain on or obtain a farm,
and develop local markets for such potentially lucrative crops
as vegetables.
Where IFAS can fit in regarding the promotion of integrated
development should be considered.


Tables 10 and 11 summarize the types of research activities
which have been or are being conducted by the North Florida
FSR/E team, relating them in the first table to the
problems/constraints addressed, and in the second to the
enterprise systems most likely to benefit from the research.


TABLE 10. Problems.and Constraints Addresses by the Research Foci of the
Farming Systems Research and Extension Program, 1981-1984.

Research Manage-
focus mrent
Enterp records x

New Forages,
Trop. corn

Winter grains
Planting time
Wheat grazing
Variety trials

Wheat-N,K x
Doublecropping x

Perennial Peanut
Establishment x
Winter Grain
Summer Grain
Weed Control

Need for
Drought/ Altern. Soil
Capital Compaction Grains Fert. Disease A/C/Q*



x x

Learning Curve

Nutrient Recyc


Cattle Manag.

Market Altern.

* : Availability, Cost, Quality
**: Includes Amaranth, Pigeon Pea, Millet and Alyceclover

TABLE 11: Types of Productibn Systems Benefitting from the
Research Foci Efforts of the Farming Systems Research and


Enterprise Records


New Forages, Grains

Winter Grains
Time of Planting
Wheat Grazing
Variety Trials


Perennial Peanut
Winter Intercrop
Summer Intercrop
Weed Control

Learning Curve

Nutrient Recycling


Cattle Management

Market Alternatives













How well has the North Florida Farming Systems Project
rapidly but accurately identified problems faced by its
clientele?. How successfully have its research efforts addressed
these problems? How well has the approach generated truly
"systemic" research designs?

Problem Identification

The FSR/E team has had 3 years of feedback regarding its
efforts from farmers, county agents, IFAS research scientists,
local advisory committees, and internal and external review
teams. The consensus of these groups is that the program has
rapidly and fairly accurately identified a number of key
problems faced by the clientele, and moved to find alternative
Columbia county agent William Thomas reported in April,
1984, that the FSR/E team generated research which otherwise
would not have been conducted in the region. The advisory
committee of multicounty agent Marilyn Swisher commented in
March, 1984, that in general, the FSR/E work was reaching
important conclusions about winter grains and tropical corn.
The committee members were interested in the longer-term results
from the fertility trials, and desired more record-keeping
activities, including training in using records. The only
research thrust the committee did not strongly support involved
perennial peanut.

Systemic Solutions

The FSR/E approach complements existing research and
extension efforts by investigating "systemic" solutions to
clientele problems. A "systemic" solution is one which is
adjusted and relevant to the felt needs, resources and practices
characteristic of a particular farming system. This is
sometimes called "adaptive research." Commodity research and
systems research are complementary. The value of the systems
approach is that it increases the utility and probability of
adoption of commodity research by making sure that such research
is designed to meet systems needs. Alternatively, no farming
systems project can move forward without sound commodity
As indicated previously, during the discussion of clientele
problems and constraints, alternative solutions proposed by the

FSR/E team in north Florida typically had to meet several
criteria imposed by the biophysical and infrastructural
environments of the region and America's agroindustrial
structure. For instance, in cases proposed technologies had to
meet conditions of drought-tolerance, low management and
available markets. Moreover, the diversity of enterprises
common to clientele farms meant that enterprise
interrelationships needed to be considered if a systemic
solution was to be achieved.
It was also indicated that the major agronomic needs -of the
clientele included finding. alternatives to traditional corn, and
providing data on managerial practices specific to the region
for newly-introduced grain and forage crops. Additionally,
techniques for or crops which avoided drought conditions were
desired. Finally, an overall need was to find ways of aiding
these households to "survive" on the farm, through reducing
inputs or improving management time and resource use efficiency.
The FSR/E team proposed initial examination of 9 major
research foci. Figure 5 diagrams how these research efforts
-were systemically linked to one another. As the figure
exemplifies, RECORD KEEPING connects to every research activity.
Records provide the team with managerial and economic data.
Farm data can be compared to researcher-managed trial results,
and over time, the records can serve as measures of farm
household aceptability of new technologies. Records are
important sources for discovering farmer strategies for avoiding
The two major thrusts of the North Florida Program have
been towards grain and livestock studies. Because of the
prevalence of mixed systems in the region, the team has sought
enterprises which provide multiple uses, or fit into integrated
crop-animal enterprise operations.
For example, WHEAT and related WINTER GRAINS have been
examined in terms of both grain production and forage-grain use.
They have been considered in both monocrop and doublecrop
systems, and in conventional and mulch (INTERCROPPING/PERENNIAL
been subjected to similar treatments.
The diversity within the clientele suggested multiple uses
would be made of these various crops and the FSR/E team had to
consider a range of management practices. Principal interests
involved fertilization (timing, rates and types), especially on
new crops (SOYBEANS, WINTER GRAINS), SUBSOILING (with summer
grains), and time and methods of planting. CATTLE MANAGEMENT
studies are just underway.
The primary objective of these trials is to generate a
series of suggestions or recommendations reflecting the
different types of uses made of a particular technology (i.e.,
"recommendation domains"). Thus, for instance, suggested wheat
management practices for cropping operations, where wheat is
grown for grain and perhaps doublecropped as well, will differ
from suggestions made for mixed systems, where wheat will be



-Learning curve


-Time of planting
-Insecticide Control


-Method of olantinq Cycling
-Variety trials Herhicides
-Fertilization -Method of planting
(N, K, Micros) -Feedinq trials
-Variety trials..

-7 I ,
(graze) I** | TEiRCrfpTRO IN


-Time of planting -Time of olantinq
-Sentoria ctrl. -Sentoria ctrl. .(Winter)


-Other foranes. -eat
-oats -Corn
'--- I [ I

-Amaranth -1illet CATTLE PAtAGEMENT
-Pigeon pea -Sorghum
Alyceclover -Control grazing using gate
" 'I I -Ear tags /

Figure 5. Interrelationships of Research Foci,
North Florida, FSR/E Program,

Rapid Results

FSR/E is an expensive methodology during initial years.
The success of farming systems approaches is ultimately measured
by how many members of 'the clientele adopt generated technology.
This includes the need to measure how farmers themselves come to
understand and use scientific methods to test new technologies.
As has been suggested, successful generation of technology
hypothetically results from rapid and accurate identification of
problems and rapid, simplified but scientific "fine-tuning" of
research designed to meet these problems under specific
conditions of the farming systems 4' question. At this point,
it is possible to summarize the research results achieved by the
North Florida FSR/E team, to indicate how rapidly they were
achieved, and to indicate expected acceptance of the proposed
alternatives by the clientele. The IFAS Extension Evaluation
Unit will be conducting an evaluation of the program during
1984-87, in which adoption rates among the clientele will be

-- Doublecroo
- Subsoil
* Multi-use


Enterprise Records: simplified record books were made
available the first year, and have since been modified. After 3
years, the team is organizing record management education
sessions in the counties under the direction of Dr. Swisher.
Pressures to provide farm records by credit agencies should
enhance clientele interest in learning to use these-record books.
Families with members in Future Farmers of America and vocational
agriculture are more likely to use records or be amenable to.
learning about them than are older farm families, but perhaps
with expanded educational programs, acceptance will increase.
Dr. Swisher is coordinating her educational efforts with
farm women in the region, many of whom do the record-keeping for
the farm and household.

Subsoiling: a simple, effective subsoiler was made the first
year, and since modified. It is undergoing further evaluation by
an agricultural engineer. The subsoiler has great potential for
use in planting sumner grains. Suctvssful demonstration of its
utility on corn trials should enhance clientele interest in it.
Those with cropping systems and mechanical ability capable of
constructing one are most likely to adopt it.

New Forage and Grain Crops: trials in the region quickly
determined major biological problems with each of the new
alternatives. Basic research has been initiated on the more
promising alternatives, namely, alyceclover, sorghum and
pigeon pea.

Tropical Corn: successful efforts in the Hastings, Fla.
area growing tropical corn prompted -the FSR/E team to
initiate its research on tropical corn in the Suwannee
Columbia County area. The farmer interest and suggestions
that resulted from the first year of station and farm trials
with tropical corn led to an amplified program in 1984,
including cultivar comparison, planting date, insect,
subsoiling and fertility studies. Experimental sites which
include farms as well as the station provide for rapid
evaluation of the corn under diverse environments.
Appropriate managerial practices for tropical corn should be
confirmed by 1986. Because of its resistance to weevil
damage, acceptability should be high among those who raise
traditional corn and particularly those who store it on farm.

Winter Grains: (GRAIN) many of the questions raised by
farmers and extension agents concerning management of grain
have been answered after 3 years of research. Especially
important to achieving these results with high confidence
levels have been the wide sources of data used: farm records,
grain studies in mulch and no-mulch sod, and fertility
studies. The past 3 years have validated planting date,
variety and nitrogen level recommendations, both for wheat
which is grazed and not grazed. By 1984, questions about
timing of fertilization and microelement additions should be
sufficiently answered for the cultivars being used. As new
varieties are introduced, they are subjectedrto research in
the region.
Wheat is increasingly being adopted by clientele members
and a majority of them are expected to utilize these research
findings. Significantly, larger winter grain producers in the
region should also benefit from these efforts.
(GRAZING) the question was raised by farmers during the
first year as to whether or not wheat could be grazed
followed by grain production. Research was immediately
initiated to answer this question. The first year's grazing
data indicated that wheat can be grazed for up to 6 weeks
without significantly affecting grain yield. These results
have proven to be consistent over the past 3 years. Wheat
grazing recommendations were made in 1983. New grains, like
triticale and oats, and improved wheat cultivars, are
subjected to grazing trials as they are introduced.
Since wheat seed prices have dropped, it is expected
that clientele who traditionally graze rye may add wheat to
their grazing management, especially as wheat becomes more
popular in the region. Higher management demands may retard
rates of adoption, however.

Fertilization Studies: S deficiencies on wheat were
noted in 1981. Based on demonstration and research
activities a recommendation of 20#/acre S was established in
1983. Nitrogen levels of 80#/acre on cultivar Fl.301 was
validated from trials by 1982. Farmer questions regarding
residual fertilizer in doublecropping systems led to research
on N and K levels required in such systems, and microelement
(Mn, Zn) studies. This research has potential benefit to all
farmers in the region, who similarly share heavy fertilizer
costs. The long-term nature of this research and certain
field problems have delayed recommendations, but these are
expected for wheat and soybeans by 1984-85.

The N and K studies should be widely acceptable because
farmers are familiar with the need and cost of these
elements. The cost of fertilizer is an incentive to adopt
practices reducing the amount required, or which make more
efficient use of fertilizer applications. Present funding on
microelements indicate that significant yield increases occur
on those sites with better environments. The wide spread
application of micronutrients remains in question.

Perennial Peanut: this crop has been investigated in
Florida for over 20 years, and appears to have manydesirable
qualities. A stand of perennial peanut had been established
at the Live Oak Research Station 13 years earlier, and
flourished.with little care. However, first year attempts to
establish it on farm were generally unsuccessful. Immediate
though not well integrated research began on weed control (a
primary limiting factor to successful establishment), method
of planting, seeding rate, intercropping and grazing. Recent
research efforts have better integrated these efforts, and
enabled the team to eliminate those which clearly hurt the
peanut, like intercropping during the first year.
The high cost of initial establishment and problems in
the field have discouraged interest in this crop by clientele
members. It is-expected that only clientele who can afford
to make the long-term investment required by this crop shall
adopt it. At this point, winter and summer grain
alternatives appear more promising than does the peanut.
Recent trials have revealed that shallow planting depth
increases plant stand. This combined with Arbrook can result
in a 70-80% stand the 1st. yr.
Because of the long establishment time of the peanut,
intercropping trials were initiated in-recently established
stands to determine if farmers could make use of this land
while the peanut was taking root. Summer corn intercrops
failed in newly established stands because weed control was
made difficult. Winter grain intercropping appears promising
with both rye and wheat. Two years.' data suggest the peanut
forage yield is lowered as nitrogen applied to the grains
increases. Overseeding small grains increases annual forage

Investigation of new varieties is being pursued to
identify those best suited to the region. Corn produced in
association in an established perennial peanut stands
produced 5 times more forage than corn alone. However, corn
grains production was reduced 1.1/2 to 3 times when grown in

Information Studies: it became evident during the first
year's activities with clientele that certain problems
existed regarding how information is obtained and understood
by them. Certain of these difficulties related to the
educational levels of clientele families; many clientele
expressed confusion over how to interpret soil tests and
similar technical documents; pamphlets produced by IFAS
contained so many facts that clientele expressed difficulties
in determining which ones were most significant. Extension
sources were typically underutilized as contrasted to larger
scale farm households and hobby farmers.
Beginning in 1982, the FSR/E team developed multi-media
presentations designed to express information in as many ways
as possible: visual, audio, graphs, etc. Dr. Swisher
initiated programs and began to write articles for the local
papers. Wheat findings have been printed in the popular
Florida Grower and Rancher magazine. Beginning in 1984, Dr.
Swisher developed a newsletter directed specifically to the
clientele which discusses management strategies. Studies are
planned over the next 3 years measuring the influence that
various information transfer strategies have on the
clientele, including the following: development of slide
modules, displays at the county fair and other community
gatherings, newsletters left at churches, post offices, feed
and retail stores, and the like, radio shows, and of course,
direct farm household contact.
Expected to help these studies are the data being
collected presently by the students from Florida State

Cattle Management: while controlled grazing was
recognized as a problem by the team during the first year,
the generality of the problem for the region was determined
only recently. An agricultural engineer from ICRISAT is
presently helping the team develop a solar-battery operated,
pasture gate control mechanism which is being tested on farm.



Collaboration between farm families, research scientists
and extension agents is critical to the success of farming
systems approaches. Involving each of these actors in the
process of identifying problems, searching for alternatives,
testing and evaluating technology, and disseminating it
theoretically achieves two things. They are 1) problems are
identified with greater clarity and relevancy to actual farm
conditions, and 2) more acceptable (to the farm unit) solutions
are reached. Additionally, better cost efficiency is achieved
through speeding up the process, including learning on the part
of the clientele.
Working with farmers and scientists from other disciplines
provides farming systems teams with a mechanism for rapidly
generating and assessing information, and an arena for
critically proposing and reviewing research strategies.
Achievement of collaboration must proceed on two levels.
At the institutional level in the U.S., extension and research
must be linked to address common problems. Resources must be
shared across both domains in order to gain legitimization and
the most efficient management of time, labor and information.
Administrative support is crucial for obtaining funding at the
state and national levels, and for politically justifying the
approach. Ideally, extension agents and research scientist
support should be sought from the start, and incorporated into
annual planning and review sessions. Despite initial
difficulties in linking extension and research to FSR/E, this is
how the project proceeds at Florida.
The second level involves farm unit support, and is
achieved by working directly with farm unit members who are the
clientele. Incorporating these members builds trust, furthers
learning and enhances-adoption of new technologies.
Florida's project additionally benefitted from U.S.D.A.
support and a political climate in Florida which had drawn
attention to the needs of smaller scale, family farmers.


When the FSR/E project began its work in 1981, it relied
upon a core group of 2 full-time IFAS appointed faculty and 2
individuals on U.S.D.A. funds. The core members were Dr. Peter
Hilderbrand, an agricultural economist and former member of the

Rockefeller team at ICTA, Guatemala, and Dr. Edwin French, an
agronomist. Both had farming systems experience. The U.S.D.A.
appointments were to George Clough, vegetable crops, and James
Dean, an anthropologist with a background in agricultural
Graduate students working on research problems provided
additional support. They included an anthropologist, a soils,
dairy scientist, 3 agronomists and 3 agricultural economists.
In 1983, Dr. Marilyn Swisher was appointed a multi-county
extension agent. She supervises activities in the research
counties. The U.S.D.A. provided support for a biologist from
1982-83. This position was filled by an agronomist.
A number of other graduate students joined the team
including some from geography and animal science. Since 1982,
the team has had a number of graduate students successfully
defend theses (1 in agronomy, 1 in.geography, and 1 in food and
resource economics) and dissertations (1-anthropology) based
upon their work with the FSR/E effort. As of Spring, 1984, 4
other students (2 in agronomy, 1 in animal science and 1 in food
and resource economics) are nearing completion of their
research. 2 students from Florida State are conducting
information transfer studies with the team at present. In sum,
a total of 11 graduate level theses have been or are nearing
completion which directly relate to farming systems activities
in north Florida.
A number of special projects have been done by students
working with the team. Topics have included the following:
determination of environmental index for wheat trials, record
keeping on corn and wheat, economic analysis of soybean
fertilization practices, measures of physiological changes in
wheat associated with grazing, determination of associations
between farming systems and soil variations in the region, and
planting depth and position of perennial peanut rhizome.
Students continue to approach the team about research
projects. The FSR/E effort has hired paraprofessionals in the
research counties who aid with experiments and data collection.

Table 4. Faculty and Graduate Student Team Support,

Faculty Student

1981 2 3 2 1 2 2 0 1.
1982 3 3 3 1 3 3 1 1
1983 3 0 2 1 3 3 1 0
1984(A) 3 1 0 0 4 2 1 0

(A) 2 students from Florida State University are working on the
team. They are in the fields of adult education and

Once research problems were identified during the 1981
-Sondeo, the team began to initiate experiments designed in
conjunction with researchers and extension agents. During the
1982-83 budget year, the team had a total of 23 individual
research projects.
Participating with the team in this research have been
approximately 20 IFAS research scientists and 9 extension agents
from 5 counties. Major local regional support has come from
Suwannee County extension agents Dr. William Smith, Merry Taylor
and Phillip Rowan, Columbia County agents William Thomas and
Rick Goff, and from Howard Smith, the district county extension
director and FAMU technicians Morris Lester and Jimmy Shepperd.
The Live Oak Agricultural Research Center, directed by Drs. Jim
Rich and Ed White, has also been extensively involved with the
project. The team has periodically drawn upon the knowledge and
advice of personnel in the Food and Resource Economics
Department (records and market studies), James Wershaw
(agricultural law), and the Agricultural Engineering Department.

During the 1983-84 fiscal year, there are 14 research
scientists and 9 extension agents cooperating with the team in
studies similar to the 1982-83 year.
Research plans and extension activities are jointly planned
by these individuals and team members, and submitted as
cooperative efforts during the annual budget review.


Farm family collaboration is a fundamental part of farming
systems. A Total of 66 farm households were contacted during
the 1981 Sondeo, and since then team members have visited
approximately 200 other farms of various size.
The following table presents data on the types of farm
households which have participated in various trials placed on
farm in 1981-82, 1982-83, and 1983-84. A majority of these are
located in Suwannee and Columbia counties; but some
collaborators reside in Hamilton, Madison and Alachua counties.
The latter have principally been involved in winter wheat,
perennial peanut establishment and tropical corn trials.

Table 5. Collaborating Farmer Data,
Trial Type. On Farm


wheat 81-82
corn 81-82

Alyeclover 82

Millet-pea 82


1 1

Trop. corn 83 2
84 4

Winter Grains

Wheat 81-82
graze 82-83

trials 83-84

K20 82-83.

micros 82-83

Perennial Pnut
establish 82
(5 replant) 83*
(1 replant) 84*

corn int. 82

wheat int 84

1 (also Live Oak FFA chapter)

2 1

* represents new collaborators only,
farmer fields .

In addition to these trials, 20
records for the team in 1982. 10 of
were new white, 6 were old black.

i.e., excludes replanted

farmers kept rainfall
these were old white, 4

Table 6 lists the total monetary contributions which farm

households have made to on farm trials in 1983.

Table 6. Farmers' Monetary Contributions to On Farm
Trials, 1983.

Number Acreage Contribution($)



Pig. pea/millet
Trop. corn
Wheat grazing
Wheat, soybean

Soybean fert.
Peren. Pnut





96.7 10,619.44


(a) K20, N trials
(b) microelement trials
(c) costs of establishment
(d) costs of replants

Selecting Collaborators for On Farm Trials

There are no prescribed means for selecting a collaborator
other than membership in the clientele group and willingness on
the farmer's part to make the required contributions to the
research. It has been Dr. Swisher's responsibility to contact
potential collaborators, and she has deliberately attempted to
do so on a geographical basis--that is, an effort is made to
distribute trials across various soil types. The county agents,
feed store dealers and local farm household members have
provided names of potential collaborators. Many initial
collaborators were interviewed in the Sondeo.








The organization of the project During the first two years
involved joint administration through an Administrative
Coordinating Committee, composed of the Deans for Extension,
Research and Resident Instruction, and a Technical Advisory
Committee consisting of department deans and chaired by Chris
Andrew in International Programs. The former committee made
policy for the project while the latter provided input to
program operations, selection of team members and research
designs. Andrew remained an important liason between the IFAS
administrative deans, faculty, and the team members during this
crucial early period and until late 1982.
The actual field team, responsible for the initial survey
(Sondeo) and -ensuing research-transfer activities, was managed
by Peter Hildebrand, faculty-member in Food and Resource
Economics, and Edwin French, faculty member in Agronomy.
Hildebrand devoted less and less time directly to the project as
it became established, while French quickly became the
administrator of the fieldwork. The two USDA appointees, George
Clough (Vegetable Crops) and James Dean (Anthropology/FRED),
carried out much of the initial fieldwork and conducted a goodly
portion of the routine administrative duties such as purchasing,
organizing equipment, correspondence, and meeting with
interested parties to discuss the project. A secretary was
hired part-time in the first year. The core team was later
supplemented by a one year biologist position.
Figure 3 depicts the early organization of the North
Florida FSR/E Project. As the diagram indicates, ties with
extension agents in the region during the early years were
limited, despite recognition as early as the spring of 1980 that
agents would be important to consult in programming the team's
activities. The team originally did not have a core team member
living full-time in the field. Marilyn Swisher rectified this
situation by moving into that position in late 1981, enabling
her to coordinate field activities on farm. The students and
faculty core -mmbers of the team were responsible for all of the
fieldwork during the first two years. This placed a great
strain on the team as there were periodic labor shortages; team
members would have to make time-consuming and costly round-trips
from Gainesville into the research counties to conduct research
The First Annual Review, held in the summer of 1982,
indicated three major administrative problems plagued the
project. They were 1) the team was not adequately incorporating

extension agents into the project, and concerns were raised by
agents regarding.whether farmers understood the distinction
between.farming systems and extension personnel; 2) the team
needed to collaborate more with IFAS research scientists; and 3)
a field-based agent with local laborers would make operations
more efficient. After these problems were discussed in detail,
the team worked to ameliorate them. By late summer of 1982, the
team initiated planning of on-farm activities with extension
agents, coordinated its research with interested collaborators
at the Live Oak Agricultural Research Station, the Quincy
Agricultural Research Station and in Gainesville, and obtained
funding to hire paraprofessionalss" in the two counties, to be
supervised by an FSR/E field agent (Swisher).

Figure 3. Organization of North Florida Farming
Systems Research and Extension Project,

Other organizational changes were made over the next two
years. Hildebrand.moved further away from the domestic project
and into teaching and international work. French became the
leading team administrator in Gainesville, assisted by Dean and
short-term appointed research assistants (Noel Beninati and,
later, Chandra Reddi). Swisher began to significantly take over
responsibility for in-the-field trials and coordinating team
activities with local extension and the research station
scientists. In 1983, Swisher's position was further solidified
through her appointment ds a multi-county agent, legitimating
her extension role and the team's linkages with the agents in
the region.
Planning and budgeting decisions were made during late 1981
which allowed the FSR/E Project to affiliate itself within the
Agronomy Department. The Technical Advisory Committee and
International Programs linkages diminished over time, although
team members continued to conduct work with the latter,
especially after the establishment of the U.S. Agency for
.Internati.onal Development backed Farming Systems Support Project
in 1982. Faculty continue to be exposed to farming systems
activities through reviews, plans of work, administrative tours,
special presentations and collaboration on projects. Figure 4
depicts the present organizational structure of the North
Florida Project.




COLLABORATING NJ.F. FS/E P ro .l-adr{ M tultiounty COUNTY

STUcES _-- -arorofmessionalst

S__ /


Figure 4. Organization of North Florida FSR/E
Project, 1984

The two major differences to emphasize about the
administrative changes the project has experienced between 1980
and 1984 are 1) "vertical" linkages have been replaced by more
"horizontal" linkages, which has had the effect of moving the
project "out of Gainesville" and "into the counties," and 2)
collaborative planning and evaluation efforts involving
researchers and extension agents with the team are stronger.
During 1934, a majority of the project's on-farm trials have
been put in utilizing labor and resources from the Live Oak
Agricultural/Education Center. While most of the data are still
processed in Gainesville due to the availability of facilities,
some processing has been transferred to Live Oak, and Swisher
keeps copies of research results on hand. Personal computers-
have been purchased which will expand the processing capacities
of the research station based staff even more during 1984-85.

Discussions at the 1983 annual review suggested that the
FSR/E Project begin to consider expansion. This would require
moving into new counties and perhaps into new types of farming
systems. In order for this to develop, further
institutional-administrative modifications would probably be
necessary. The idea that has the most merit at present is to
create "regionally-based" FSR/E units. Regional units would be
stationed at the Agricultural Research Centers around the state.
Regional field teams could consist of multicounty agents
affiliated with FSR/E, FSR/E trainees on internships or other
kinds of support-in-training, and paraprofessionals. This
represents a general organizational form common to other farming
systems projects, such as ICTA's in Guatemala. These team
members would cooperate with station research scientists and
county extension agents. Figure 5 depicts this type of
institutional organization.
As of June, 1984, the Assistant Deans for Extension and
Research have been appointed to oversee the North Florida
Project's future development, evaluation, and planning. This is
yet another step in the institutionalization of the project in


How does'the team make decisions about the research and
extension activities it conducts? The following steps summarize
the decision-making process as it is generally and somewhat
ideally employed.

1) a need or problem is identified on the basis of
observations of and discussions with members of the clientele,
and/or with extension agents and researchers. Initially, these
needs were determined through a Sondeo. Once the team began
working in the region, periodic assessn:ents ot farm conditions
have been used to determine new needs or problems. The
evaluation to.hbe .'.:zu:cted over 1984-87 will help provide such

2) the identified need/problem is presented to the team.
An evaluation as to its prevalence within the clintele
population and importance to various farming systems follows.
NOTE: Once a research eLort is begun, problems arise
which occasionally involve an immediate decision -- e.g.,
something that must be done for an on-farm research trial. Team
leaders have the authority to act on their own in these cases.

3) alternatives to the problem are discussed and research
designs proposed. Since 1982, the designs of research trials
emerging from these discussions have usually been assigned to
individual team members to prepare. In some cases, these are
thesis projects. As the project develops its base in Live Oak,
designs have increasingly been prepared on the basis of farmer,
extension agent, research station scientist and field-team
member collaboration, reflecting the shift in team composition
to staff not working in Gainesville.

Figure 5. Proposed Regionally-Focused Farming Systems
Effort, with base at area Agricultural
Research and Education Center.

4) the team holds its own annual planning session when it
organizes its research activities and gives priority to each
proposed research trial. Required purchases for these trials
are then built into the budget submitted to IFAS. Much of this
activity is presently coordinated with the Live Oak AREC staff,
to avoid budget complications.
A special session of the team is called occasionally to
discuss research proposals which cannot be reviewed at an annual
planning review.

5) the team opens its proposals to review at its annual
summer reviews, and to extension agents, who often are consulted
as the design is being prepared.

6) proposals are modified accordingly and formally written
into a plan or work.

This planning procedure has usually functioned well.
However, in general, the University's budgeting time schedule--
budgets need to be submitted before June-- has conflicted with
the team's planning and review schedule, held necessarily in
late June after the winter wheat harvest. During the period
1983 to present much of the project discussion and planning has
taken place between the extension and station/campus research
personnel. This represents a positive step toward
regionalization of the project and less dependence on campus
Despite problems with time schedules, the FSR/E team has
usually had sufficient funds to alter research designs as needed
when.conflicts between budget and planning research activities
occur. More attention to the budget should have been given by
IFAS administrators, and some means of coordinating budget plans
with the Live Oak facilities developed earlier.


The following tables summarize the budget support for the
project since 1980.

Table 7. USDA Funding, 1980-84.

Period Amount Spent
Sept. 1980 60,700
Sept. 1981 111,894
Oct. 1981 30,000 (conference)
Nov. 1982(a) 155,777

TOTAL 358,371

(a) Use of this money was extended until March, 1984.

USDA funding
Disbursement: 1980-82 1982-84

Salaries, benefits 132,034 121,980
Travel(a) 18,280 10,000
Overhead 19,805 18,297
Other 5,475 5,500

(a) This money was used for international work. Hildebrand
was sent to service OICD teams abroad and for briefings in
Washington, D.C.

Table 8. State Funding, 1981-84.




















* Represents proposed budget.



Table 9. Budget Requests Identified by On Farm
Versus Research Station Activities.

Expense/year On Farm ($) Station

OE 81-82 22,500 14,300
82-83 23,275 16,875
83-84 19,900 21,460

OPS 81-82 7,900 15,800
82-83 6,275 17,012
83-84 21,110 13,100-

Totals OE+OPS
81-82 102,845
82-83 105,787
83-84 148,515

Administrative Problems

The following is a list of administrative-managerial
problems experienced by the project which can be expected to
arise in other farming systems projects in the U.S. Efforts
the Florida team took to rectify these problems are described.

1). difficulties existed initially in obtaining support for
the project within IFAS. The FSR/E Project appeared to have
been "pushed" into the system and was receiving funding support
when the State was decreasing overall funding to IFAS. Failure
to educate more faculty about the Project's goals was partially
to blame.
Since the first year, various "educational" presentations
have been made by the FSR/E team to farm groups, members of
IFAS and other organizations. These have taken the forms of
FSR/E slide modules, papers read at annual society meetings,
television promotions, public annual reviews, published papers,
and through research and plan of work reports. Faculty have
been encouraged to work with the team in conducting research.
Particularly good ties have been established between certain
personnel in agronomy, soils science, entymology and pathology.

2) relationships with extension initially were poor. The
team was overly critical of extension outreach. This situation
was rectified by working closely with extension in later years,
incorporating agents into team planning sessions and the design
of field trials. Extension agents have also hosted farm
meetings in conjunction with the team, and help to publish a
newsletter sent to the area's diversified farm households.

3) turnover on the team has been problematic. This
particularly is in reference to its student membership.

Turnover has generated periodic labor problems and led to
inconsistencies in data collection and research follow-up.
Training of new personnel to assume responsibilities of members
planning to leave has been accomplished in only a few cases,
and remains a problem. Lack of career service position has
been partially to blame.

4) a computerized data management system would allow for
more efficient storage and retrival data and other farm
information. One permanent individual should be responsible
for maintaining these records. MSTAT could be incorporated for
analysis and storage of data.

5) on farm research designs in a limited number of cases
have been complicated by too many variables. The result has
been a confounding of variable interactions.

6) the team agronomist cannot effectively manage the
year-round work done by the team and meet his faculty
responsibilities. There is a need for summer and winter crop
agronomists and a full time field biologist to manage
multicounty field trials, and data collection. The biologist
requires a compliment of field labor.

7) faculty team members probably cannot be evaluated on
the same criteria as traditionally used within IFAS. Rather,
evaluation should reflect the work they do as members of a
FSR/E project, where research activities are generally
simplified in order to obtain more immediate and critically
important results, and are "systemic" rather than "component"
in nature. This may be one factor limiting the numbers of
faculty working with the team. Technology acceptance is the
best evaluation tool.

8) since so much work occurs on station, equipment
sharing, land use planning and budgeting need to be coordinated
between the FSR/E team and station researchers. The team has
coordinated its efforts with the Live Oak ARC since 1982.

9) there is a lack of long-term, carefully thought out
integration between the social-economic and agronomic research
activities. Economic studies tend to remain
commodity-specific, despite the systems-oriented approach.
Measures of how the new technologies being examined are
altering labor, managerial, cash flow and related activities
are only partially being made. Emphasis, in terms of both
support and project objectives, has been given to agronomic
activities and problems. There is a need to strengthen social
and economic efforts by providing greater participation of
faculty from these disciplines on the team. A newly added
multicounty agent with specialization in marketing should help
tie the micro and macro economic factors to benefit the farmer.
The upcoming addition of a marketing/farm management agent
should solve this problem.



During 1983, an external review team consisting of Drs.
J.K. McDermott, Roberta van Haeften, Robert Waugh, and Dale
Harpstead examined the North Florida Project. Their report
consisted of two major sections, "findings" and
This team found that a significant strength of the project
has been its ability to focus upon critical issues and design
research and educational/field demonstrational activities
accordingly. The project has established community linkages
and aggressively moved technology onto .farms for testing and
demonstration, while simultaneously addressing multiple factors
in the farmers' production equation. There are other programs
in IFAS and the State which could collaborate with FSR/E, such
as the Florida A and M 1890s Project, integrated pest
management, minimum tillage work, etc.
It appeared to this team that the extension branch.has
developed considerably more interest in FSR/E than has the
research counterpart, but the agricultural research center
network could serve as a means for the expansion of a farming
systems effort. Also, the predominant number of faculty in
IFAS associate farming systems with limited resource farmers
rather than FSR/E in its broader context, a situation which
needs correction.
The team recommended that FSR/E should be continued at
IFAS, enlisting increased participation of core, discipline
oriented IFAS faculty. FSR/E needs legitimization and an
institutional "home." This means establishment of IFAS policy
for FSR/E and an appropriate reward structure. Joint
extension/research planning might be promoted at regional
agricultural research centers. A central administrative
structure could be established within a high level unit, such
as the Center for Rural Development. Other possibilities
include individuals with joint research/extension appointments
who coordinate these activities on farm. An expansion strategy
for the project is needed.
Data Control

Figure 6 models the processes by which farming systems
projects organize, collect, interpret and utilize data. The
figure indicates how the data should be integratively
incorporated into the development of work plans, budgets, and
annual reviews. A centralized file ideally is employed into
which all data are entered. Note that in a project having
regionally-based farming systems teams, a data (work) file
should be kept in the region. The development of computer data
management systems makes this kind of data processing both
feasible and efficient.

The work occurring at Live Oak suggests that a successful
field organization can be put together at a research center,
where an FSR/E field agent coordinates activities between
researchers, extension agents, paraprofessionals and farm
collaborators. This. field agent needs to have legitimate,
acceptable extension and research responsibilities.
Unlike the North Florida FSR/E Project's start, extension
should be drawn into U.S. farming systems approaches from the
beginning. County agents are important sources of information
and provide crucial support to an FSR/E team in gaining
legitimacy and acceptance within a county's existing
agricultural structure. The North Florida effort has improved
its research efforts through the development of close linkages
with extension personnel at the local and regional levels.

Figure 6. Proposed Regionally-Focused Farming Systems Effort,
with base at area Agricultural Research and
Education Center.



Farming Systems Research and Extension Program.
1981 Sondeo of Farmers in Suwannee and Columbia
Counties. Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, Uni-
versity of Florida.

1982 First Annual In-House Review of FSR/E Program.
Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, University of

1983 Second Annual In-House Review of FSR/E Program.
Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, University of

Gordon and Mulkey.
1977 Value of Agricultural Sales in Florida Counties.
Gainesville: IFAS, University of Florida.

Hildebrand, Peter.
1979 The ICTA Farm Record Project with Small Farmers--
Four Years of Experience. ICTA: Guatemala.

Hildebrand, Peter and Robert Waugh.
1983 "Farming Systems Research and Development."
Farming Systems Support Program Newsletter,
1 (1):4-5.

McDermott, J.K., Roberta van Haeften, Robert Waugh and Dale
1983 Report of the External Review Team on the North
Florida Farming Systems Research/Extension Project.
Gainesville: IFAS, University of Florida.

Renner, Mikal.
1982 Probability of Drought-Induced Corn Crop Failure
in North Florida. Gainesville: Dept. of Geography,
University of Florida. (M.S. Thesis.)

Census materials

U.S. Censuses of Agriculture, for the years 1860 to 1979,
inclusive. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce,
Bureau of the Census.

U.S. Census of Population, 1980. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida