SYNTHESIS OF NORTH FLORIDA FARMING SYSTEMS
PROGRAM, IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Dwight Leigh Schmidt
of Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida
In Cooperation 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 Program. \
A Report Commissioned by Dr. Peter Hildebrand,
Department of Food and Resource Econ-
omics, University of Florida, Gainesville.
SYNTHESIS OF NORTH FLORIDA FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND
EXTENSION PROGRAM, 1981-1984.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. Purpose of Synthesis ...........................
Objectives....... ................... ....
What FSR/E Is ................................
II. General. Information .............. ........ ..
Overview of Region and Its Historic
Agricultural Development .....................
Contemporary Agricultural Demographics
and Economics ...............................
Character of Farm Population ..............
Major Production Enterprises ..............
Relation to Other Economic Sectors ........
III. Farming Systems: Clientele and Problem-Oriented
Research of the FSR/E Team.....................
Purpose of Farming Systems Research
and Extension .................... ....... ..
The North Florida FSR/E Clientele.............
Clientele Problems and Proposed
Alternatives Identified by the Team ..........
Constraints identified in the Sondeo ....
Soil Compaction .......................
Grain Crops ..............................
Fertilization Requirements .. ...........
Forage Crops ........ ...... ................
Proposed Alternatives .........................
Other Alternatives ...........................
Summary ..... ......... .............. ......
IV. Specific Research Foci ........................
A. Research Focus: Enterprise Records ..........
B. Research Focus: Subsoiling Practices ........
C. Research Focus: New Forage and Grain Crops ..
D. Research Focus: Tropical Corn ...............
E. Research Focus: Winter Grains ..............
F. Research Focus: Fertilization Trials .......
G. Research Focus: Perennial Peanut ...........
H. Research Focus: Learning Curve ...........,
I. Proposed or Recently Initiated Research .....
J. Sociological Studies ........................
Summary Discussion .... .........................
Research.Results Since 1981 and Expected
V. Numbers of Cooperators..........................
Institutional Cooperators ............ ......
Farmer Cooperators ............................
Overall Discussion .............,... .......
VI. Organization: Development,.Problems
and Proposals ..... ..............
Development of Program .......................
Administrative Problems ...................
External Review Recommendations ...............
Recommendations for Future FSR/E
Appendix A. Modified Stability Analysis ...........
References Cited ...................................
PURPOSE OF SYNTHESIS
This chapter presents two things: the ooDectives of this
synthesis, and a general discussion of what the farming systems
Two major and one minor objectives guided this e-seareh.
-The major objectives were these:
--to synthesize the data generated by the North Florida
Farming Systems Program to date, including research findings
from station and on farm trials, and to describe the program's
organizational development and structure, specifying how it
determined its objectives and the degree to which it has met
said objectives over time;
--to identify research inconsistencies, problems or needs
which can be met through further programmed activities.
The minor goal is this:
--to prepare a report capable of serving as the basis for
annual reviews and related team documents, and for evaluation
This report is designed to "walk" the reader through the
development of the North Florida Farming Systems
Research/Extension (FSR/E) Program. The research strategy of
farming systems is discussed below, and is necessary to
understand before proceeding to a description of research
The following chapters describe the region in which the
program presently operates, the nature of its clientele group,
problems and constraints identified by the clientele which have
been addressed by the program, and the outcomes of research
activities to date. Concluding chapters present data on the
administration of the program, including financial support,
team structure, and managerial problems which have been
WHAT FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION IS
Farming systems is an holistic, multidisciplinary 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 not simply the farm production unit, but
rather it is that unit within its biophysical, social, economic
and cultural environments. (1)
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 a multidisciplinary 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 technological alternatives.
The term farming systems) as used here refers to both the
development approach and the definition of the farm environment
just given. Specific meaning of the term should be evident
from the context in which it is found.
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 farming systems 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
farm-unit oriented, systemic and multidisciplinary character of
the farming systems approach distinguishes it from the
unilinear, top-down development perspectives which dominated
agrarian aid programs into the 1970s (Baker et. al. 1983;
Bradfield 1981; Byerlee et. al. 1982; Hildebrand 1981a, 1981b;
Rhoades and Booth 1982; Whyte 1981).
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)--FSk/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. FSIP
also requires social science input.
The distinction between FSIP and FSR/E has both
organizational and methodological significance for farming
systems programs. Hildebrand and Waugh (1983:1-2) summarize
the division as follows:
FSIP--"macro"; variables are outside the farm gate
and thus involve more social science anaylsis;
survey methods to predict farmer responses to
policy are frequently used; is applied socioe-
conomic research which mainly produces inform-
ation useful to infrastructural management.
FSR/E--"micro"; variables are within the farm gate
and thus involve more agro-biological analysis;
is-applied agronomic science which mainly
produces technology and extension techniques
-useful to farmers.
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 dnder diverse management and perhaps 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. Figure I-1 at the conclusion of this chapter provides
further details on the organization and research procedures of
The North Florida FSR/E Program
The North Florida Farming Systems Research/Extension
(ESR/El Program initially was conceived as a "pilot" domestic
project. The development and goals of the Program are fully
discussed in Chapter III.
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. (2)
Appropriate technology refers to any technology or modification
that 1) can be put into practice immediately and under farmers'
present agrosocioeconomic conditions, and 2) is acceptable to
target farmers (Hildebrand 1983, "The Farming Systems Approach
to Technology Development and Transfer," Paper presented at
Utah State University).
The program cooperates with both research and extension
efforts in the region. The program is operated by a
multidisciplinary team consisting of social and agronomic
scientists, local extension personnel, and research scientists
from agricultural research stations and the University.
The methodology employed by the program has five basic
steps. They are L1 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. (3) 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 program began in 1980 when Peter
Hildebrand and Edwin French were given authority to organize a
domestic farming systems program. U.S.D.A. support for the
- program was forthcoming. A survey (Sondeo) was completed in
1981 and on farm testing began in the fall of that year.
Further details on the North Florida Program are provided in
Chapters III and VI.
APPRWIWMATE TIME G81
*-OL MONTH---il 4
-- oao-ECOKoMVc SCIENCES
PARTICIPANTS, ACTIVITIES AND PRODUCTS IN) THE
APPA'IMW TIErME GPM
-----ONCTO TWO MONTS AJNNALC1CUWCW--
FSR/E APPROACH TO TECHIfLOG9 DEVELOPMENT
ARM il goc fliEM Fyn
Figure I-i diagrams the activities of a farming systems
program, and the kinds of personnel it attempts to integrate in
developing, testing, evaluating and disseminating technology.
As the figure depicts, the multidisciplinary farming systems
team of biophysical and social scientists functions throughout
the time span of a particular program. Support and policy
directed towards the effort need to be made at critical
decision-making junctions by policy makers (.state legislatures,
agricultural agencies, etc.) and those managing program
components. Feedback loops serve to direct research activities
between station and farm, depending upon the types of problems
encountered and barriers to acceptability on the parts of farm
units. The end goal is development and dissemination of a
technological alternative which has been refined through the
integrated evaluations of farmers, researchers and
(1) The term "farm unit" as used here refers to the
sociocultural-production organization which makes decisions
about how resources are allocated to farming activities. The
unit's composition varies cross-culturally. In some cases, it
may be an individual farmer or corporation; in others, a
nuclear farm family; in yet others, an extended kin or
otherwise related human group.
Farming systems efforts properly begin with identifying
the character of a farm unit in a particular
(2) 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 capital.
"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.
(3) Dissemination activities actually begin when the farming
systems team initiates research activities with a cooperator.
HISTORY AND SOCIAL-ECONOMIC
CHARACTERISTICS OF SUWANNEE AND
COLUMBIA COUNTIES: AN OVERVIEW
This chapter presents historical and contemporary data on
Suwannee and Columbia counties' agricultural populations and
production systems. It serves as an introduction to the
following chapter, which describes the clientele group with
which the North Florida FSR/E team works.
A brief history of the region is first presented. It is
followed by contemporary statistics and information on the two
counties' farm populations, what agricultural products are
produced, and the relative value of farming to the rest of the
community in both economic and sociocultural terms.
OVERVIEW OF REGION AND ITS HISTORIC
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 employer 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. 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
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 Florida's leading flue-cured tobacco market and the
farms of Suwannee and Columbia counties the leading flue-cured
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 initiated 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 but planted for high yields, 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 the elimination of the tobacco
and peanut allotment systems, which has 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 to draw farmers back into corn in
1984. Soybeans and wheat acreages are on the rise but these
are capital intensive crops and farmers are still learning how
to raise them. Many farm households have off-farm income and
have had to pay debts through selling land, equipment or other
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. Economic indicators 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.
CONTEMPORARY DEMOGRAPHICS AND AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS
,.This section presents demographic and economic data from
the two counties. The intention of this presentation is
two-fold. First, to provide a general description of the
character of farmers in the region against which the FSR/E
clientele may be compared, and second, to establish the
significance of agriculture for the region which, in turn, has
implications for justifying extension and research activities
Characterof the Farm Populatioi
There were 1,140 farms in Suwannee and 589 farms in
Columbia according to the 1978 Census of Agriculture. This
*subsection provides general statistical information on these
farms for the counties as a whole.
Both counties have experienced population increases in the
rural areas over the past decade. Suwannee's rural population
increased 78.2% between 19,7T and 1980, and Columbia's increased
-I02.1% 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
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 forest.
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. $20,000, which makes them small by the definition used by
many farm agencies.
Table II-1. Numbers of Farms by Farm Sales Class, 1978.
Sales Class Suwannse Columbia
$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
The enterprises generating the most agricultural income in
both Suwannee and Columbia counties include tobacco, corn,
soybeans and wheat. Of these crops, tobacco dominates, In
Suwannee County alone in 1983, it generated over $12 million
with an.estimated total economic impact of close to $80
million. 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 are limited to a small
proportion of the farm population, for example; hogs are
produced on a majority of farms while cattle are largely found
on whitp 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 11-2. Distribution of Enterprise Systems in
Suwannee County, 1982.
System type Percentage of Farms
tobacco only 7.0
cattle only 20.2
corn only 16.9
misc. other 11.2
Source: Suwannee County Extension Service and Chamber of
Commerce survey, 1982.
Relation to Larger Economic Sector
The following table indicates the share that agriculture
has had in Suwannee and Columbia counties' total economy from'
1945 to 1978, in terms of personal income generated from
Table 11-3. Agriculture's Percent of Total County
Personal Income, Suwannee and Columbia
Year Suwannee Columbia
1968 32.8 9.5
1973 21.2 5.9
1978 19.6 5.0
urce: U.S. Census
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
For/example, members of farm households do purchase many
household and farm goods from suppliers. A survey of Suwannee
County merchants, conducted in 1982 (N = 104), revealed the
following information (Schmidt 1983).
Farm households, on the average, support many diverse
kinds of businesses in Siuwannee County. The estimated gross
annual sales made to farm families by enterprisers surveyed in
1982 is shown in Table 11-4. Tables II-5 and II-6 present
evidence on the number of employees having town jobs who also
farm. Farmers clearly make up a notable proportion of the
local urban-industrial work force.
Percentages of Gross Annual Sales Made to
Farm Households, by Business Type.
Percent Business Type
of sales Retail Prof. Grocer Manu. Other Wholes. Serv.
Numbers of Employees Who Farm, by Business
Retail Prof. Grocer Manu. Other Wholes. Serv.
Table I1-6. Percentages of Farmers Having Off-Farm
Labor, Suwannee and Columbia Counties,
% off-farm 100+ days
Source: U.S. Census of Agriculture.
Merchants often hire employees who farm, as Table II-5
indicates. Over half of Suwannee's surveyed merchants
themselves had farmed at one time, and a similar percentage
had kinfolk still in farming. Merchants reported a decline in
farm household purchases over the past five years, and nearly
two-thirds estimated that their businesses would continue to
suffer economically should agriculture continue to decline in
-_, 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
These statistics 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.
One Production Credit Association official stated his
opinion of farming's importance to the region: "If Occidental
Chemical and farming went out of business, there would be
nothing left here."*
It 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.
FARMING SYSTEMS: CLIENTELE AND PROBLEM-
ORIENTED RESEARCH OF THE FSR/E TEAM
This chapter is divided into two sections. The first
briefly describes the development of the North Florida FSR/E
Program and why it is helping small scale farm households. A
discussion of social, cultural and economic characteristics
descriptive o:f the FSR/E Program clientele follows.
The second section presents a discussion of the kinds of
problems and constraints under which these farm households
operate. Alternative solutions addressing these problems
which have been or are being considered by the FSR/E team are
listed. Two figures are included at the end which summarize
the research efforts of the team and their relationship to the
problems and constraints identified among the clientele.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTH FLORIDA FSR/E PROGRAM
The North Florida FSR/E Program has a history dating to
the late 1970s, with interest in the approach among some
administrators in IFAS extending back to the early 1970s. The
dates of critical events in the program's history are now
SPRING, 1971-- Dr. Peter Hildebrand, recently of the
Rockefeller Foundation and who helped to intiate farming
systems work in Guatemala, arrived at Florida to teach a
course in farming systems methodology. He is joined by
faculty members Art Hansen (Anthropology), Elon Gilbert and
John van Blokland (Food and Resource Economics), and Steve
Kostowitz (Vegetable Crops). George Clough, Dwight Schmidt
and James Dean, who will later play key roles in the
administration and/or operation of the North Florida Project,
are in the class. A preliminary Sondeo (survey) of Alachua
County farms is performed by the class.
SUMMER, 1970-- Dr. Art Hansen conducts a full-scale
survey of Alachua County's smaller scale farmers, expanding
upon the farming systems work. (See Hansen et. al. 1980.)
DECEMBER, 197j-- IFAS holds a meeting to discuss problems
of small scale farmers; the concept of a farming systems
program is presented at that time by Hildebrand and members of
the Food and Resource Economics Department (FRED).
JANUARY, 1980-- IFAS International Programs faculty
submit a white paper to the administration supporting the
establishment of a farming systems program at Florida. The
International Programs faculty argue that such a program would
attract much attention and funding, as farming systems is
gaining interest among both American and foreign governments.
They stress that Florida needs to act in order-to gain
prominence and funding, since competition over resources for
such programs will undoubtedly increase.
APRIL, 1980-- FRED produces a document entitled "Future
International Program Involvement of the Food and Resource
Economics Department," in which it specifies the "lead role"
it is taking in developing an FSR/E program in IFAS. .The
major components of the program are to be 1) a Domestic FSR/E
Program, 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, including teaching
PSR/E courses in foreign countries.
SPRINGi 1986-- A proposal, written under Hildebrand's
guidance, is submitted through FRED to IFAS concerning a
farming systems program. It lists five major goals for the
program, as follows: 1) to establish one or more FSR/E teams
to work with small scale farmers in Florida, and on related
energy issues; 2) establish FSR/E programs in several other
countries, including training missions; 3) further develop the
student training in FSR/E program at Florida;.4) develop a
network of courses taught in foreign countries related to
FSR/E; 5) provide consultancyto government and development
agencies employing FSR/E perspecives.
SUMMER, 1980-- Charles Dean (Agronomy), Don Maynard
(Vegetable Crops) and Leo Polopolous (FRED) agree to the FSR/E
Program concept in a formal memorandum to Vice-President of
Agricultural Affairs Tefertiller, Dean of Extension Woeste,
and Dean of Research Wood. They agree to support the program
provided bugetary problems are negotiated. They propose that
Hildebrand coordinate the domestic FSR/E Program, joined by
Edwin French, then working on a Florida-spornored project 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 are already of concern to the three departments. FSR/E.
would coordinate relationships between the supporting
departments. Live Oak is discussed as a future site for a
FSR/E Program further north.
FALL, 1980-- Hildebrand outlines a "Strategy for
Developing a Farming Systems Research and Extension Program in
IFAS."' The paper expands upon previous FRED documents
described above, but additionally lists three objectives for a
domestic FSR/E Program. They are "1) determine the
appropriateness of FSR/K 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 program be
FALL, 1980-- USDA approves three years of funding for a
domestic FSR/E Program at Florida. French later joins the
MARCH 27-MAY 15, 1981-- A Pre-Sondeo is conducted in a
six county area of north Florida, after a decision is made to
move the program out of Alachua County. The counties surveyed
included Jefferson, Hamilton, Union, Madison, Suwannee and
Columbia. Because of the. proximity of the latter two and
prevalance of small farms there, they are selected to be the
sites of an intensive Sondeo._
JUNE'18-JULY 27, 1981- Approximately four 2-person teams
average 3 days a week in the field surveying farms; a total of
66 interviews are conducted. By July 29, a classification
system of the farm households is completed, and major problems
and constraints faced by them identified (see next section).
SUMMER, 1981-- For the second year in a row, a bad
drought occurs, significantly affecting corn yields.
Nationally, farm debt receives attention because it has risen
dramatically in recent years and foreclosures are now
OCTOBER-NOVEMBER, 1981-- Florida's Governor Robert Graham
holds a Governor's Conference to discuss the '"plight of the
small farmer," attended by members of the FSR/E team. The
State provides indirect support for the FSR/E and related
"small farms" programs through this conference, and policy
statements adopted by the Legislature 3sonsored after its
conclusion. The state legislature provides direct support for
the FSR/E Program through IFAS' budget.
SEPTEMBER 15, 1981-- the FSR/E team produces its final
Sondeo Report on Suwannee and Columbia County farming systems.
The groundwork is laid to begin developing and testing
alternative technologies for them. Discussion of the projects
proposed by the team follows in the next section.
ADDITIONAL DEVELOPMENTS OF SIGNIFICANCE SINCE FALL, 1981
WINTER, 1981-- team begins cn farm trials involving
SPRING, 1982-- team begins its first collaborative
- research with other faculty in IFAS.
SUMMER, 1982-- team holds its first meeting with farmers
.concerning the outcome of the wheat trials..
JUNE, 1982-- First Annual In-House Review occurs,
providing the opportunity for extension agents and researchers
to criticism the team's efforts.
FALL, 1982-- the first graduate student thesis projects
done with the team are completed. The team presents reports
of its activities at the Florida Soils and Crop Sciences
Annual Meetings in Tallahassee. Florida becomes the lead
institution in the Agency for International Development
Farming Systems Support Project.
JANUARY, 1983-- Dr. Marilyn Swisher- o-f-the FSR/E team is
appointed a multi-county agent, strengthening the team's
connection with extension.
JULY, 1983-- Second Annual Review is held, this time
involving an external review team which recommends continuance
of the FSR/E Program and further expansion.
FALL, 1983-- the team makes its first formal
recommendations, involving.the grazing of wheat.
SPRING, 1984-- discussions begin concerning how the FSR/E
work can be evaluated over a four year period.
Figure IIT-l represents the initial programming schedule
of the North Florida FSR/E effort, as proposed in early 1981.
Colored sections indicate programmed activities that were
carried through.. In general, the program followed its
proposed organizational development quite closely, though
there was a delay in terms of when actual research work began.
Further discussion of organizational activities is found in
FSR/E FIELD TEAI PRoORAMMING SCHEDULE
1980 1981 1982
July Sept. *, Oct. Dec. Jan. March April June July Sept. Oct Dec. Jan. March April June July Sept. Oct.- Dec.
S I A ram------- oo
tTrials Research and ti
!Equl.nmnt AcSuBlit-on- tinq, Develo ent ----: -------
Cna i, :. i-- tntlrt track
IItlhg 2 new Field Teami eg Proje
I t"ooperaitlv Agreement t St I t8te I
Percentage of ~lttln Funding Sources (t)
Soft State unhds
,o */ / / '/ / /Z/Z//Z7/ / / / 7 / "
2o / / / / u A ,.tiul"*
tf4 iuri !tk LInds
FIGURE Ill1. Initial North Florida FSR/E Team Programmihg Schedule.
THE NORTH FLORIDA FSR/E CLIENTELE
Orientation Towards Small Scale Farmers
Administrators within IFAS and the U.S.D.A. encouraged
the North Florida FJR/, team to orient its activities towards
smaller scale, limited resource farm households. These are
the kinds of farm units with which farming systems programs
have worked in many developing nations. Interest expressed by
the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the State of Florida in
small scale farm problems also encouraged working with this
Most of the farmers contacted can be called "family
farmers," using the following definition. A family farm "is a
primary agricultural business in which the operator is a
risk-taking manager, who with his(her) family does most of the
farmwork and performs most of the managerial activities"
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 inmacreage and/or sales, did not necessarily separate
farms inm a useful manner for the team. In support of the the
holistic farming systems approach, Dehm (1983:8 of Thesis
Proposal) argues that "production strategies, the patterns of
household consumption, and the interaction between production
and consumption activities, with the various beliefs, values
systems and goals held by the family" are crucial
qualititative factors distinguishing farming systems at a
socioeconomic level. 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 in 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 ESR/E clientele.
This represents approximately 35% of the total farm
Map III-1 indicates the geographical distribution of farm
households contacted during the Sondeo. The map shows that
the farmers contacted were scattered, with definite
clusterings of black farms.
SThe characteristics descriptive of the clientele group in
general include these:
--they are households whose members would prefer to farm
full-time but commonly cannot for credit reasons; that is,
they do not and presently cannot depend upon farming to meet
the needs of the family, which are primary;
--thy therefore are constrained in terms of management;
--they rely upon family labor in many instances, and
wives are typically responsible for much of the
--it is the importance of the land (identity with and
ownership of it).and of farming as a preferred lifestyle,
rather than as a business, which dominates.their view of
--they therefore choose strategies designed to maximize
maintenance of this lifestyle rather than profit, especially
if choosing to maximize profit additionally maximizes risk of
loss of the farm;
-they do not have frequent or formal contacts with
existing extension/research, for whatever reasons;
FSR/E NORTH FLORIDA
O Old Line White
* Old Line Black
* Recent White
* Recent Black
0 5 10 15 20
S5 o10 15
MAP III-I. Location of Farm Households Contacted During
--many make use of reciprocal exchanges with kin and
--they tend to operate mixed crop/livestock systems as a
means of distributing risks and also cash flow more evenly
throughout the year;
--many use older, low horsepower equipment, which has
long since depreciated and is relatively easily repairable on
--they do not tend to use futures markets, forward
contracting, or crop insurance (except on the most lucrative
--finally, they tend to be households with 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: 78.8%
of the original sample had been or the- farm two or more
generations and/or had social Cprincipally 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 21.2% 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 machinery.
Racially, over 60% of the sample was white. Blacks
represent nearly 40% of the population, and based on county
statistics are overrepresented in this class. Swisher
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 within their race and whites a higher proportion of
Crop systems were dominated by cash grain production,
with individual farms perhaps raising combinations of tobacco
or peanuts, watermelons, and/or vegetables. Mixed systems
were dominated by grain/swine or grain/cattle systems.
Livestock systems primarily were cow/calf operations, with
gernetically-mixed herds. Major enterprises included
vegetables, primarily for home use, found on 76% of the
surveyed farms; corn, sold and used as feed, found on 76% of
the farms; and hogs, found on 58% of the farms. See Table
Table III-1. Classification of Clientele Sampled in the
Farm Unit Type Number Percent
Old-Line 52 78.8
White 31 47
--Crop 1 1.5
--mixed 19 28.8
--livestock 11 16.7
Black 21 31.8
--crop 9 13.6
--mixed 10 15.1
--livestock 2 3.1
Recently-Est'd 14 21.1
White 9 13.6
--crop 3 4.5
--mixed 3 4.5
-livestock 3 .5
Black 5 7.6
--crop 2 3.1
-mixed 3 4.5
--livestock 0 0
The following figures present traits which distinguish
the farms on the basis on residency and racial differences.
These are general differences. Many newer farm units were
established on the basis of one major enterprise, such as
tobacco, 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.
Figure III-2. Selected Characteristics of "Recently
Established" and "Old-Line" farmers.
(Adapted from Sondeo, 1981-82.)
Old-Line Recently Established
frequently open market pur-
inherited or chases; av. holding
purchased from 196 ac.
holding 184 ac.
family labor; hired labor;
more assured uncertain avail-
availability; availability; purchase
own/share equipt.. or hire equipt.
low cash flow high cash flow
low indebtedness high indebtedness
land as collateral; -
informal loan institutionalized loan
Figure III-3. Selected Characteristics of Black and White
Farms. (Adapted fromSondeo,1981-82.)
small (141 ac. average)
less available capital
small tobacco systems
less specialized machinery
many vegetable systems
larger (221 ac. average)
more available capital
large tobacco systems
more specialized machinery
many peanut systems
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, but also the fact that the
problems faced by this group were less constrained by
variables neither the team nor the farmers themselves could
CLIENTELE PROBLEMS AND PROPOSED
ALTERNATIVES IDENTIFIED BY TEAM
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 an unknown whose parameters need
to be identified. The Sondeo established the existence of a
number of problems faced by the clientele. Many cut across
all three classifications of production systems, while a
couple were restricted to one type. The major problems
--rising costs of fertilizers needed to offset poor
natural fertility (all production systems)
--erosion, caused by heavy winds in -Spring and loose
topsoil conditions (crop, mixed systems)
--market difficulties, including variable or low prices,
limited outlets, and competition with Midwestern producers
(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, or land which is tied up
in heirs estate and cannot be used as collateral (all
--insufficient cash flow through the year (particularly
--poor quality of labor (primarily crop systems)
--lack of alternative crops to corn, tobacco (primarily
crop, mixed systems)
--high costs of winter pasture and feed supplement
(mixed, livestock systems)
--management time (all production systems)
--difficulties in getting information (all production
--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
feed requirements (mixed, livestock systems)
--disease and insect damage, including high populations
of nematodes 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,
--lack of good and/or inexpensive veterinary services,
leading farmers to experiment with treatments (mixed,
--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.
Two major endogenous constraints were identified --
management, and capital.
Management 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 have been leaving the rural
regions. The consistency of town wages makes dependency upon
such income critical for many households. The diversity of
enterprises likewise places seasonally excessive demands on
Capital is a constraint because the farm households 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, perhaps in cases to avoid
reporting income, 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 numerous 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
the farm debt, 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 operations.
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. Quality of labor was said
to be a problem but largely only for tobacco and vegetable
producers. 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 low term
payback periods. Land is a major source of collateral for all
Two major exogenous constraints were identified -- poor
native soil fertility and drought, and infrastructural
(largely market) limitations.
The region as a whole suffers from poor native soil
fertility. Soil consists primarily of sands with scattered
pockets of clay. Drought occurs in early summer and.late
fall, and spring winds additionally cause erosion.
Compaction, due to machinery use, exacerbates the effect of
these constraints on zcop production. During rainy periods,
nutrients are quickly leached from the soils and micronutrient
problems have been appearing. Farmers are thus faced with
applying heavy fertilization in order to try to achieve yields
which are usually 1/2 to 1/3 those common to the Midwest.
Fertilizer and fuel costs have risen dramatically over the
The infrastructural constraints are varied. There are
limited markets for vegetables; local market demand is far
exceeded by supply and farmers travel to distant cities to
sell. The recent elimination of the tobacco and peanut
allotment systems 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. The Midwest dominates grain and
livestock markets due to volume, determining the price
structure and the cost of imported feedstuffs required to
supplement grains produced in Florida. Finally, credit tends
to be extended on the basis of whether farmers follow
recommended practices designed to achieve maximum yields,
rather than to assure some returns given the constraints just
Constraints may interact with one another. For example,
exogehous constraints have further constrained management.
Droughts during recent years have made it difficult to decide
when to plant and fertilize--already limited to when they can
farm, some farmers have no choice but to risk planting in a
dry period or not plant at all. 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 plant.
Farmer Strategies in Dealing with Problems
Farm families employ many ingenious strategies in meeting
known problems and constraints. Figure III-4 summarizes these
strategies as observed being practiced in the region during
Figure 111-4. Farm Strategies Employed in Meeting
Problems and Constraints.
Management -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
Capital -sell livestock ("money in the bank")
-borrow from kin
-participate in barter, non-reported
-illicit economic enterprises
-obtain-of-f- farm employment
S-: -hold off from making repairs
-sell land if not in use at urban values
.. -rent land
-space plantings over time
-increase in-row spacing of seed
-employ different varieties with varying
drought tolerance traits
-withhold fertilizer until crop is up
-reduce cultivation to conserve moisture
-alter planting date
-try new cultivars or crops
-try new crops
-fertilize especially with macroelements
-time fertilization to rains to avoid
-cut applications to reduce costs and
-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 exclude others. Exclusions were
based upon estimations that alternative solutions for the
particular problem could not be achieved in the short run, or
required additional infrastructural support not likely to be
immediately forthcoming. The problems the team excluded were
--alternative vegetable markets and, relatedly, vegetable
technologies. 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.
--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 has
little experience in these areas.
--nematodes and other diseases. The team has avoided
working on pesticides but is investigating more disease
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 appears in Figure 111-5.
Figure III-5. Identified
cash flow management
get out of energy-
attack harpan problems
Short and Long Range
of the FSR/E Program.
new crops for area
new forage systems (with
improve overall transfer
The Sondeo additionally helped to identify the kinds of
production strategies which would have to be "built into" the
team's research activities because farmers were already
utilizing them. Knowledge of existing practices allowed the
team to do two things: 11 determine whether proposed
alternative technologies could be employed with existing
practices, which, if this wasr the case, would theoretically
enhance adoption; and 2) compare traditional to proposed
innovative practices as they affected the production, cost and
managerial factors of a proposed- alternative.
The kinds of existing clientele practices/strategies
which were necessary to incorporate into FSR/E research
designs are listed below.
--comparisons of broadcast-disk and standard grain drill
planting methods (used by farmers) with other methods to plant
--examinations of variable times of planting and
fertilization,including single versus multiple fertilizations
--examinations of variable fertilizer rates, especially
N, K, and microelements
--determing the degree to which alternative winter grains
could be grazed, such as is done with rye and oats
--using low horsepower equipment
The Sondeo led the team to identify five major problem
creas 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." These projects are explored in detail in
*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 are likewise constrained from doing
ALTERNATIVES: Proposed alternatives needed to reduce
management time if possible, or make existing management more
efficient. Additionally, the.team identified the need to
investigate the effects that various management practices had
on yields and economic returns such as the prevalent pattern
of withholding fertilization. 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 against land prices which are
beginning to decline. Many do not prepare enterprise budgets
and consequently do not truly know where they are losing
money. Income tends to be concentrated in the summer with
major cash outlays in the spring and fall.
ALTERNATIVES: Economists have worked in developing 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 investigated.
FSR/E Related Research: Farm budgets; economics of wheat
grazing; fertilization trials on winter grains, summer crops;
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.
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 the drought
season. 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;
*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. Tractor compaction
enhances this problem.
ALTERNATIVES: Two potential solutions to this problem have
been investigated: cultural practices involving the use of an
inexpensive, "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; new alternative
*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 to raise corn.
ALTERNATIVES: Two possibilities were identified by the team:
1) alternative summer grain crops that were more drought
tolerant 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 and insect problems that
summer crops do.
FSR/E Related Research: 1) alternative new grain 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
*PROBLEM: Fertilization problems in Florida include the need
to apply heavy cronutrient deficiencies may exist. There is a
need to determine the most economical time and rate of
application of fertilizer on 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 which maximized economic
return given the region's biophysical constraints and farmers'
managerial limitations. Work has involved examining major
elements (r, P, K) as well as micronutrients (particularly S,
FSR/E Related Research: wheat fertilization trials -- timing
of N and K application, micronutrient trials; wheat-soybean
doublecrop fertilization trials; wheat K rate trials; nutrient
recycling in perennial peanut
*PROBLEM: Forage costs continue to rise in the region, related
to fertilizer expenses. Unstable livestock prices have made
forages even costlier to farmers.
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 but are very low cost once established.
FSR/E Related Research: 11 winter wheat; winter grains
overseeded into perennial peanut; winter grain -.riety trials
2) perennial peanut
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 (see Chapter II). We can expect
farmers ta 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
A short-term solution to farm problems involves reducing
management time and capital demands. Unless a truly
profitable enterprise system is developed however, farmers
will 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.
Figures III-6 and III-7 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 figure to the
problems/constraints addressed, and in the second to the
enterprise systems most likely to benefit from the research.
fj-R ' -I I1
Disease Cost, time
Enterprise Records X
New Forages, Grainas X
Tropical Corn X
Time of planting X
Wheat grazing X
Variety trials X
Winter grain inter X
Summer grain inter X
Weed control X
Learning Curve X
a includes amaranth, pigeon pea, millet and alyceclover,
Problems and Constraints Addressed by the Research Foci
Extension Program, 1981-1984.
of the Farming Systems Research and
Time of Planting
FigureMh7. Types of Production Syste ef--in f the
Research Foci Efforts of :he Fr-anf Syss.ems research
and Extension Team, 1981--9;.
SPECIFIC RESEARCH FOCI
This chapter provides descriptions of and findings from
each of the major research foci which the FSR/E team has
concentrated upon since 1981. These foci are, in order of
discussion, ENTERPRISE RECORDS, SUBSOILING PRACTICES, NEW
FORAGE AND GRAIN CROPS, TROPICAL CORN, WINTER GRAINS,
FERTILIZATION TRIALS, PERENNIAL PEANUT, AND LEARNING CURVE
STUDIES. Additionally, there is a section summarizing
PROPOSED OR RECENTLY INITIATED RESEARCH which does not fall
under any of the proceeding headings, and one on SOCIOLOGICAL
STUDIES. The chapter concludes with a summary discussion of
the research efforts to date.
Each major research focus to follow is formatted as so:
--listing of problems/constraints addressed by the
--description of research activities, proposed new
technology and/or strategy, and its utility
--listing of specific research efforts carried out within
the major research heading. Discussions of specific research
efforts are formatted as follows:
listing of problems/constraints (where
objectives of research
discussion; relevant findings from related
research integrated here
proposed 1984 research
Recommendations for further research or for modifying
on-going research efforts are offered where appropriate. They
reflect the author's opinions and are added in the hope of
generating useful discussion by team members and external
RESEARCH FOCUS A: ENTERPRISE RECORDS
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT; CAPITAL
Description of Research
Smaller scale farm units typically face more varied
managerial and technology-related problems than is the case
for larger producers. Many smaller-scale .farm households in
north Florida must balance farm with off-farm employment
demands, juggle inconsistent cash flow to meet expenses, and
manage the diversity of enterprises typically found on them as
a means of spreading risks and generating income more evenly
over the year. Instability within .the national market
infarstructure compounds these problems. Farm households use
multiple strategies in dealing with these difficulties.
Enterprise records are a useful means of assessing the
stability of farmer practices over time, what kinds of
innovative strategies farmers are employing, and where
constraints to their operations exist. Records provide
important data needed for comparisons between traditional and
alternative technologies, and provide baseline data for
determining adoption rates.
Enterprise records. have been gathered on farms producing
wheat since 1981, and on-farms producing corn and soybeans
since 1982. These have provided the ESR/E team with some
indication of farmer management practices and problems. It
was also an educational experience for many of the farm
household members, because they are not used to keeping
formalized enterprise budgets.
Other enterprise records were kept on some of the trials
being conducted on farm with tropical corn and perennial
peanut. This section discusses findings from the traditional
corn, wheat and soybean enterprise budget activities, and is
based upon data collected by economists Bruce Dehm, Glenn
Sappie and John Wake.
Bruce Dehm developed a simplified budget upon which
farmers could record their input costs, labor time and
machinery use. He worked closely with farmers in order to
make sure they understood how to record activities--much of
this work was done by the farm wife. Periodic trips were made
to the farms to make sure farm members were filling out the
budget forms properly. Dehm provided the farm households with
final enterprise budgets (net returns and marginal costs), and
made recommendations to them as to where they could reduce
losses. A revised budget was recently submitted by John Wake,
and is presently employed by economists on the team. (See
,. ,. n.lFARMERW
WORK DONE DATE ACRES EQUIPMENT SEDAC FUEL LABORHOU
I NT SE HOURS FAMILY HIRED COST/ACRE
i r v -
-------------------------------- --------------. . ., ^ --- ---------- ------------ r- ------------------
INPUTS (Seed, Fert,, Chem.,
NPUT DATE ACRES QUANTITY COST
INPUT DATE ACRESPER UNIT
~___~______________AE ACRES_ PER ACRE PER UNIT
I"i-"'. --J L I .. i r" -, I
r T rl 11 n n ,
i- c n I r- r
RESEARCH FOCUS: Corn Budgets
--to obtain data on farm management practices
--to use these budgets to compare variances in
farm management and overall economic returns
--to help farm households learn how to budget
--to have data on traditional corn economics which
can be compared to alternative corn cultivar
10 farmers kept records during 1982 on corn. Of these, 1
was over 70 years, 3 were between 61 and 70, 4 were between 51
and 60 and 2 were under 50. Most had not kept records before.
8 reported they were full-time farmers, and 8 used family
labor while only I hired help. The farm size of this group
varied tremendously, ranging from 80 to 640 acres. Records
from 1983 have not been fully analyzed to date, but should be
available by May of 1984.
Overall variation in management practices was great
within this group. The only practices which were similar were
the following: 9 of the 10 produced dryland corn (the 640 acre
farmer irrigated his); most had between 20 and 25 acres of
corn in production, although the acreage ranged from 9 to 100
acres; all but one farmer fed the corn to his animals, with 3
allowing the livestock to feed in the field .and 2 selling part
or all of theirs for cash.
Land preparation involved either bottom plowing, disking
or a combination of the two.
There were 5 different varieties of corn seed employed:
PAG 688, Coker 77, Pioneer 3030, McNair 508, NK 395-A. Most
farms planted at least 2 of these varieties, which is a
risk-reducing strategy. These are longer season corns
selected for their ability to withstand drought and their
relatively long shucks which inhibit fungal infection.
Planting dates ranged from March 18 to May 3-4, with the
majority centering around March 20-April 15. Some farmers
began planting in March and completed planting in April, which
is a strategy designed to minimize the chances of the entire
crop failing due to drought. Seeding rate ranged from 10,886
plants per acre to 17,422 on the irrigated farm.
Fertilization involved the use of either 9-18-27 or
5-10-15, banded at planting at a rate of 100 to 300#/acre.
Ammonium nitrate at 100-250#/acre or liquid nitrogen (32%) at
70-100#/acre was custom spread 6 to 8 weeks after planting.
Cultivating was done with a rolling cultivator on all farms, 2
or 4 row depending upon tractor size, at 2-4 weeks after
planting. Another cultivation at 8 weeks was done if needed.
No herbicides were applied.
Harvest time ranged from August through October. Those
who stored the corn on farm sprayed it with malathion. They
tended to produce only enough corn to meet their livestock
requirements, meaning that their grain bins were only partly
The following table lists the sources of management
variation in economic terms, and also expresses the price
range for various critical inputs found within the sample.
Table A-1. Sources of Input Price Variation, Corn
Input Rank (a) Low (a) High
fuel 1 2.90 39.43
base fert. 2 10.98 47.24
N Fert. 3 .00 28.00
seed 4 3.00 11.02
bu-yield/acre 5 105
Tat. Cash cost 34.54 (b)r 149.49 (b)
Cash cost/bu. .89 (c) 6.91
Ca) rank is based upon the greatest variation in costs among
the farmers; costs are on a per acre basis.
(b) the farmer with the lowest cost produced only 5 bushels
per acre; the low yield forced him to forego harvest,
explaining why his cash costs are low. The variety he planted
was Longfellow Flint, obtained from Pennsylvania. It had many
problems, including lodging. He planted it as an experiment
and because he would like to find a good flint corn.
The farmer who produced 105 bushels irrigated corn had the
highest cash cost per acre, because of the irrigation and
additional labor it required. However, his cash costs per
bushel were $1.42, towards the lower end of the range for
(c) this farmer achieved a yield of 80 bushels per acre. He
had relatively low fertilizer costs and no added labor or
The variation in economic returns on corn shown above
indicates that management within this group is a key variable
explaining yield differences. Comparing these reported
practices to what was learned in the Sondeo may be useful.
46 of the 66 farm households interviewed in the 1981
Sondeo raised corn, mostly for livestock feed. As on the
farms above, planting dates varied -- many farmers stated they
planted late to avoid drought, although late planting ran the
risk of higher insect damage. Many spaced their planting
dates to avoid loss of the entire crop during a drought.
Another common strategy employed is reducing density. These
practices limit yields a farmer can expect but they are
designed to assure some acceptable level of yield is obtained
in dry conditions. The region can expect a 30-40% chance of
drought-induced crop loss, and Renner (1982) calculates a
correlation of .76 between corm yield and rainfall.
On some farms, tobacco, watermelon and vegetable
enterprises interfere with corn planting, explaining some of
the observed variance. The former bring higher income and
therefore take precedence. On others, corn is planted
whenever labor is available to do it, which similarly has the
effect of distributing planting date over a number of weeks.
According to the yield data, there appears to be little
relationship between planting.date and yield, although corn
planted after April 20 tended to show consistently lower
yields. Highest reported yields came from corn planted
between March 27 and April 8.
Analysis of historic regional corn yield patterns
indicates that they reflect two main interacting factors --
rainfall, which is highly sporadic even within county
boundaries, and management practices as discussed --
particularly fertilization and cultivation. Longer term data
might provide an indication of how effective some of the
observed management strategies are over time, particularly as
they respond to drought conditions. One thing can be
concluded -- corn remains a risky crop for many reasons, and
farmers have a difficult time profitably producing it.
Farmers in the clientele group cannot offset drought
conditions by irrigating. Even on irrigated farms in the
region, yields have hardly justified the costs in recent
years. It is evident that the clienteles' general management
practices for corn are designed to make a crop under adverse
conditions, and in the past their strategies succeeded because
fertilizer costs were low and grain prices remained relatively
These practices need to be complemented by a variety
capable of better tolerating drought or avoiding the dry
period through a later planting date. Addressing this need is
the main reason the FSR/E team has pursued research with
tropical corn, as discussed under Research Focus D. Wheat and
other winter grains offer another production strategy which
can either substitute for or complement corn production,
depending upon the farm.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Wheat Budgets
(Problems, objectives and Methods as for corn)
In 1981-a2, a farms provided wheat budget information to
economist Bruce Dehnr. This number increased to 16 in 1982-83.
John Wake collected information on wheat producers also,
totalling 25 records, some of which were in Dehm's sample.
Only one (new) black household kept wheat records the first
season, and none did the second season.
Approximately 1/3 of the farm households fed the wheat
harvested to their hogs, while the.rest sold the wheat to
local grain mills. Of the former, 80% were smaller scale
Similar to observations made on corn, farm management of
wheat varied greatly in most respects, although there were
certain similarities. The similarities in practices are
The most striking commonality among the farm management
practices was that nearly all farmers planted FL 301 wheat.
The introduction of this new cultivar in the early 1980s was
significant because it was resistant to rust and offered high
yields. Older varieties of wheat in Florida were highly
susceptible to diseases and-never were in great demand.
...... .Because data are not fully available from Wake, the
following detailed information has been abstracted from Dehm's
farm records. Where possible, contrasts between small (under
450 acres cropped and/or in pasture) and large (over 450
acres) farm management practices based upon Wake's preliminary
analyses are made. It is important to note that Dehm's sample
is composed of small scale farm households, while Wake's
sample had a slight majority of large scale households.
Most of the farmers in Dehm's sample disk-plowed their
fields while 4 bottom plowed and then dtsked. Seed was
planted with a drill in. 14 cases and broad cast and disked in
the remaining 2 cases.
Plant dates ranged from the end of October to end of
December, most falling between the recommended planting dates
of November 15 to December 15. Seeding rate was anywhere from
1 to just over 2 bushels/acre, averaging around 1.5.
Fertilization practices showed the most extreme
variation. First applications ranged from NPvember 8 to
February as follows: 1 applied none, 5 in November, 2 in
December, 4 in January, 6 in February. Fertilizer mixco
included 25-0-15, 5-10-15, 10-10-10, 0-10-20, 16-4-8, 21-0-21
among others; only 2 included microelements and some put on
only nitrogen. Rates varied between 60 to 400#/acre.
Only 8 farmers applied a second nitrogen fertilization
after applying a first in the earlier months. Applications
ranged from late January to mid-March, and were either
ammonium nitrate at 70-312#/acre or a 32% N solution at
Harvest dates were between mid-May and early June, May 9
being the earliest. A majority had to hire a combine for
Wake discovered that there were some important
differences between small scale and large scale farm
management practices on wheat. The most notable ones related
to land preparation, planting date, and association with other
enterprises. Bottom plowing was done by 33% of the small
farmers compared to 4% of the large, for example. Small
farmers planted earlier and put more seed into the ground.
They were less likely to be rotating wheat with a soybean
crop, or facing tobacco and watermelon demands, but more
likely to have corn. Over 50% of the small producers were
raising feed grains, while only 33% of the large farmers were
doing so. Smaller producers had less experience producing
wheat. These and other management differences are listed in
Management Practices Distinguished Between
Small and Large Scale Farms, 1982-83
(Wake). (Date represent means.)
2 of 13
(a) refers to all cropped land and that in pasture.
The following table lists the sources of management
variation in economic terms, and also expresses the price
range for various critical inputs found within the sample.
Sources of Input Price Variation, Wheat
Records, 1982-1983. NOTE: Farmer Number
Low (a) ($) High
(a) rank is based upon the greatest variation in costs among
the farmers; costs are on a per acre basis.
(b) refers to land rental costs.
(c) refers to land preparation costs.
(d) 1982--the farmer with the lowest gross margin was unable
to harvest; thus, his gross margin represents his total input
expense on the wheat.
The farmer with the highest gross margin made poor yields but
also did not heavily fertilize. In fact, his fertilization
costs were some of the lowest in the sample. In a year when
wheat did badly in general, his strategy of underfertilizing
1983-- the farmer with the lowest gross margin simply did not
make the yield needed to justify his two fertilizations. The
farmer with the highest gross margin obtaiedri this figure by
feeding his wheat out. His yields alone did not produce a
positive gross margin. Of the 5 farmers who fed their wheat,
4 had gross margins exceeding $59 despite generally average or
low yields. (See discussion on wheat grazing under "Research
Focus Winter Grains.")
Fertilizer is the major input expense on wheat, far
surpassing any other costs. The reason for this is the need
to use nitrogen -- recommendations call for 70-80#/acre.
Wake's data, combining all 25 farm records, indicates that it
makes up over 40% of the total costs applied towards wheat.
There are notable differences between costs both within
years and between-years. For instance, seed prices were much
more variable in 1981-82 than a year later. This is because
wheat seed was scarce the first year; during the second, farm
households could purchase it more chc=ply and many had saved
seed from the previous year. In 1981 only a small number of
farms had seed from a previous harvest. The reduction in
fertilizer expenses over the two years may reflect a learning
process on the part of farmers as to how much nitrogen is
needed on wheat.
Only 2 of the 8 farms in 1981-82 had positive gross
margins.. A third reportedly obtained a positive gross margin
after calculating grazing benefits; the other farmers either
did not graze or, in the case of one, overgrazed, severely
reducing wheat yields. The additional grazing benefits are
not included in these budgets but are discussed under
"Research Focus: Wheat Grazing." In 1982-83, 15 of the 16
farmers in Dehm's sample had positive gross margins but of
these, 2 farmers were under $10 and only 4 exceeded $60. The
5 farmers who grazed wheat all had positive gross margins.
Table A-3 contrasts the management practices of the 6
farmers who obtained yields exceeding 37 bushels/acre in
1982-83 (Dehm) with those of the 4 farmers who produced under
Table A-3. Comparison of Practices of Farmers Obtaining
Highest and Lowest Wheat Grain Yields, 1982-83.
YIELD Seeding Plant date 1st N 2nd N
45 1.5 end Oct. Mid Jan. 0-10-20
45 1.5 Dec. 9 Nov. 24 manure Feb. N
45 1.25 Nov-Dec 28 Feb. 26 16-4-8-M Mar. 20-5-20
41 1.5 mid-Nov. plant 5-10-15 End Feb. N
38 1.5 Nov. 22 Nov. 12 9-19-29
37 1.5 Dec. 1-20 Mid-Feb. 5-10-15 Mid-Mar. N
29 2+ Nov. 8 plant 0-10-20
20 2 Dec. 20 Dec. 13 5-10-15 Jan. 27 N
10 1 Dec. 8
10 1.25 Dec. 28 Feb. N
The only factors that notably differ between the two
management domains are seed rate and fertilization, and in two
cases late planting dates explain low yield values. The high
yields were obtained with seed rates at 1.5 bushels/acre; low
yield farmers either over- or underseeded. It appears that
high yield farmers may have fertilized when the wheat needed
the nutrients; 1 low yield farmer did not fertilize at all and
1 was' late in applying it. Fertilization between February and
March clearly seems related to higher yields and was practiced
on most of the higher yielding farms.
According to Wake's data, small farm households obtained
higher yields and higher profits on their wheat than did large
scale operations. Wake proposes that wheat favors the smaller
scale producers because it requires less management time than
soybeans, at which larger farmers do better. The fact that
small farm households managed to get their wheat in.earlier
and better prepared their land may explain the higher average
yields. Their input costs'were lower because they avoided
fungicide applications and had reduced fertilization costs.
Further analysis of the data is needed.
How these data compare with research station data on
wheat planting date and fertilization are discussed under
"Research Focus E: Winter Grains."
Soybeans are increasing in acreage in the region and are
an important cash crop. Wake collected management data on 23
soybean producers, 11 of which were small. Figure A-2 and
Table A-4 provide managerial and economic data from these
Managerial Practices of Small and Large
Farm Soybean Producers, 1982-83 (Wake).
Table A-2. Majoi
land prep. 1
r Average Costs, Soybean Production,
% total cost
While further analysis is forthcoming, these data
indicate a number of things. First, as with wheat, small f
households manage soybeans differently compared to larger
producers. Particularly notable is their lower use of
insecticides and seed fungicides, which appear to be
associated with higher planting rates. Wake hypothesizes tl
smaller scale producers are trying to obtain higher plant
densities for weed control purposes, but that this might be
reducing yield. Many do not elect to use pesticides for
reasons of cost and, in cases, beliefs that they "poison the
More small than large farmers plant Bragg, a longer
season soybean cultivar that is also known for its ability to
yield in adverse conditions. Small farmers may be practicing
a low-risk strategy in planting Bragg.
As with wheat, fertilizer costs represent the highest
proportion of total costs of production.
There is a need for more decision-making studies, and
general farm management work. This kind of. information would
be useful in developing management record systems more
adjusted to the kinds of capital decisions made by these
households. Work in these areas could benefit through
cooperation with FmHA, the Production Credit Association, and
management specialists in IFAS.
Dr. Swisher has initiated management training sessions
through Dr. John van Blokland to be given .in the counties to
interested farm wives.
Records have provided much useful information to the
team, and need to be pursued for any enterprise with which the
team is working .
One question of interest which can be pursued at this
point is how many farm households are still using the record
systems introduced by the FSR/E team? How are they being
-- investigate the numbers of farm households still
utilizing farm records as introduced by the FSR/E team.
Improve the system based upon information obtained from this
RESEARCH FOCUS B: SUBSOILING PRACTICES
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: DROUGHT, SOIL COMPACTION
Description of Research
Soil composition in north Florida is highly variable. In
the Suwannee Valley region, soils are largely sands with
varying amounts of clay; wetlands are common but higher ground
is often characterized by dry, -sandy land upon which pine
trees do quite well. The sandy character of most fields means
that nutrients rapidly leach through the action of water
moving downward in the substrate. The latitude also means
that evaporation rates are high in the summer.
Drought is a critical problem in early summer and
occasionally. severe in early winter. The worst months are
March and April. The lack of water at these times, combined
with high evaporation rates, drastically curtailed corn yields
in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Water is usually available to some degree at depths below
a foot, but soil compaction, due to operating heavy machinery,
has created a hardpan layer in many fields in the region.
Corn roots cannot break this hardpan, and end up drying out in
the water-starved upper foot of soil.
Minimum-tillage equipment is designed to handle these
problems, but such rigs are costly. Additionally, members of
the clientele operate lower horsepower tractors incapable of
utilizing such equipment.
Drought stress affects all farms in the region. Because
of its prevalence, the FSR/E team has investigated inexpensive
means of dealing with it and the associated soil compaction
problem. Two approaches were taken, one mechanical, the other
--assess hardpan problem in region
--develop a practical, inexpensive subsoiler capable
of being used with limited horsepower tractors
--test the subsoiler in various tillage systems
--investigate crops whose roots systems potentially
could break the hardpan
Measurements of hardpan were made using a soil
penetrometer on fields during 1982. Readings indicated
widespread hardpan at a depth of between 12 and 14 inches.
A subsoiler was developed in response to this problem.
It could be pulled with a low horsepower tractor and was
easily made with spare parts and some welding equipment.
The subsoiler consisted of a shank fashioned from a .75
inch by 3 inch flat blade with a hardened steel point and
sharpened leading edge. The bar's depth was designed to extend
beyond the hardpan. A rounded edge from a spare rolling
coulter was added to the shank to achieve grater depth. A
minimum-till planting rig was later made by adding a rolling
coulter in front of the shank to break up the sod.
:igeon pea was examined as a potential solution to
hardpan problems because of its long tap root. Results are
reported under "Research Focus: New Forage and Grain Crops."
A one-row subsoiling rig was successfully pulled by a 20
hp tractor and used to plant corn in 1982. Corn yields,
though poor overall that year, were higher in rows planted
with the subsoiler than in conventionally planted rows.
Extremely poor corn yields on other farms and insect problems
probably failed to demonstrate the subsoiler's full potential
to farmers that year.
The minimum-till rig was used to plant corn into
perennial peanut sod in 1982, but yield differences were not
significant (see "Research Focus G: Perennial Peanut"). There
has been discussion about using the rig to plant tropical corn
during the mid-summer months (see "Research Focus D: Tropical
Hardpan clearly is a problem in north Florida, yet it
appears to be unrecognized by many farmers. The overall
affect of drought, however, is not unnoticed. Farmers have
returned to spacing plantings of corn and planting in furrows
to conserve water moisture and for weed control. Little
demand, however, has been shown for a subsoiler. Research is
needed to address whether farmers are ignorant of the utility
of subsoiling or whether constraints inhibit their adopting
The use of a minimum-tillage rig on these farms is
questionable at present. Farmers of this scale do not employ
mechanical minimum-tillage strategies because they are
expensive and involve the use of herbicides. Larger farmers
have tried these in the area and have experienced mixed
results. Thus far, the FSR/E work intercropping corn into
perennial peanut, which could use such a rig, has not produced
sufficient yields to justify this method.
Planned 1984 Research
An agricultural engineer presently is working with the
team to assess the efficiency of various small-scale
subsoiling techniques and the costs involved in building
Use of the subsoiler with tropical corn trials is planned
for this year and may familiarize the clientele with its
function, and further test its utility in the region's soils.
(See Research Focus D: Tropical Corn.)
--investigate farmers' knowledge of hardpan
--investigate constraints to adopting a subsoiler:
,economic, equipment, etc.
--conduct basic research on using a.minimum-till rig to
intercrop summer grains into pasture
--approach A.S.C.S. about credit for farmers who adopt
RESEARCH FOCUS C: NEW FORAGE AND GRAIN CROPS
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT PRACTICES; SOIL COMPACTION;
ALTERNATIVE GRAINS; ALTERNATIVE FORAGES
Description of Crops and Their Utility
North Florida has long experienced problems with its
traditional corn and pasture crops. Droughts, nematodes, and
diseases have limited yields. Rising input costs,
particularly for fertilizers, have further reduced returns to
these enterprises. Florida farmers are forced to invest
heavily in these crops because of the poor environment. Corn
has storage problems in that it is susceptible to weevils.
Farms in Florida have never been able to meet the year-round
demand for livestock feed, which in turn has limited fuller
development of the livestock industry.
A number of grain and forage alternatives have been
proposed for this region. Tropical corn, wheat and other
winter grains, and perennial peanut are being investigated by
the FSR/E team and are discussed in sections which follow.
This section discusses newer and less familiar alternatives,
include grain amaranth, pigeon pea, and alyceclover.
Amaranth is widely used in developing nations for a food
source. It has one of the highest amino acid balances of all
grains. Previous work in Florida indicated problems with
insect damage, however. Pigeon pea is a relatively low input
forage with a strong root system potentially capable of
penetrating the hardpan found in north Florida soils.
Alyceclover is a source of high quality protein (21% or more)
which has done well in pastures in central Florida, where it
is grazed, cut for hay, and used as green manure. It can be
grazed in early fall. It is an annual that volunteers. The
FSR/E team began basic research examining the biological
suitability of these crops in conjunction with IFAS research
Synthesis of Research Findings
SPECIFIC RESEARCH FINDINGS
RESEARCH FOCUS: Grain Amaranth
On station screening trials of grain amaranth cultivars
from around the world were obtained through Rodale and planted
during two dates, April and July of 1982. The plantings were
spaced in order to examine drought and insect factors.
Varieties came from Mexico (11), Ghana (1), Dahomey (1),
Nigeria (1), Arizona (1), India (1) and Pakistan (1), with 4
of unknown origins.
All cultivars experienced problems with insects and
possibly micronutrient deficiencies; damage was so severe that
harvest data could not be collected.
Grain amaranth is clearly not biologically suited to the
region. Furthermore, farmers in the area identify it with a
local pest called "pigweed," which they attempt to eradicate
from their fields. Amaranth trials were halted in 1982 and
further research on this grain is not proposed.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Pigeon Pea
Pigeon pea was planted in conjunction with Dr. Ken Buhr
at the Live Oak ARC in both 1982 and 1983. The crop showed
vegetative growth in 1982 and experienced significant insect
problems. Spraying of the crop was delayed and never
completed, resulting in no harvest data and the mowing of the
plants. In 1983, an early spring planting was proposed but
planting was delayed a week. Similar vegetative and insect
problems were experienced and again, no harvest data were
The pigeon pea was planned to be used in a swine feeding
trial at the Live Oak ARC swine research unit.
Dr. Buhr decided that more basic research was needed on
identifying cultivars more suitable to north Florida
conditions. At this time, no proposed research use of pigeon
pea in the FSR/E program is planned.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Millet-Pigeon Pea System
--determine if a millet/pigeon pea system can achieve
an adequate stand
--determine fertilizer procedures for the system
--observe how animals graze the crops
One farm was selected on which to place the system and
another trial was performed on station in 1982. Both seed
types were broadcast and disked into the ground, being mixed
with 300#/acre 0-10-20 fertilizer. Millet was planted in
wheat stubble which had been harrowed, in rows 7" apart.
Pigeon pea was spaced in rows of either 7", 21" or 42";
30#/acre N was added to half the treatments. Cattle were
allowed to graze the crops at will.
The pigeon pea showed emergence difficulties and never
established well in either location. The millet emerged but
required periodic fertilization which, from an economic
standpoint, became excessive. Animal weight changes were
measured on farm. The animals actually lost weight in this
It is hard to justify this experiment, particularly given
the fact that no data suggested pigeon pea would be a suitable
forage for the region. Given the failures to establish the
crop at the Live Oak station, this trial seems to have been
placed on farm ahead of its time. Until further work with
pigeon pea is conducted, its use should not be considered,
especially on farms.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Alyceclover
Alyceclover was planted on 5 farms in mid-summer of 1982
in cooperation with Dr. David Baltensberger. The clover was
broadcast and disked into bahia which had been prepared with
cross-disking. Seeding was done at 10-15#/acre. Farmers were
provided the seed and spreader but were required to fertilize
on their own.
Two fields showed good alyceclover growth resulting in
farmer utilization as forage. One of these farmers cut hay by
Another farmer managed to graze the alyeclover for 3
weeks. The cattle selectively grazed the clover and
effectively destroyed the limited stands that existed.
Nematode damage was severe on one farm and noticeable on
a second by late summer. One field was infertile, probably
because of lack of organic matter in the soil. The field also
had bad sandspur problems. Another field appeared to resist
alyceclover seeding due to its thick bahia sod.
Dr. Baltensberger concluded that nematode problems and
poor soils inhibit economical production of alyceclover in the
region, and is pursuing breeding studies with these
constraints in mind. Research was done with alyceclover in
the 1940s in the area, and nematode damage was found to be the
major limiting factor. A long-term breeding effort should be
pursued but the FSR/E team should not include alyceclover
studies in its work plan until breeding has been conducted.
Alyceclover has not been accepted by peanut and corn
farmers because of its volunteer trait. This could inhibit
its adoption in the region should a suitable cultivar be
Sorghum and Hairy Indigo
Some discussion has recently occurred among team members
regarding examination of grain sorghum and hairy indigo.
Grain sorghum has been tried in the region by larger farmers.
The major problem with it is its high moisture content, which
presents storage problems. It cannot be left in the field, as
farmers do with corn, and bin storage is costly and dangerous
given the moisture problem. A few dairies have expressed
interest in purchasing sorghum for silage but this outlet is
limited. Sorghum midge may also be problematic.
Hairy indigo is a good soil builder and can be
intercropped with corn and used as a forage. It is found on a
number of old line farms. It volunteers and thus is a problem
for farmers desiring clean fields.
These new grain and forage crops have many problems.
Besides their present biological unsuitability'to the region,
only alycelover would have a ready market in the form of hay.
Perennial peanut may be a better alternative at this point,
considering the fact that it also produces high quality hay
and could be grazed into fall as with alyceclover. The FSR/E
team has offered researchers working with pigeon pea and
alyceclover directions to pursue in their breeding programs,
but it is unlikely that suitable strains will be developed in
the near future. j
Sorghum needs to be studied further. Storage is the
major constraint to producing it along with the fact that
prices received for it have been lower than corn prices at the
market. A study of farms already raising this crop might be
useful before any on farm trials are initiated.
RESEARCH FOCUS D: TROPICAL CORN
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, DROUGHT, ALTERNATIVE GRAINS
Description of Crop and Its Utility
Tropical corn varieties have been developed in Latin
America and introduced into the U.S. in recent years. A U.S.
variety with tropical genetic background, Pioneer 304C, haz
been in growing demand. Plantings of Pioneer 304-C have
successfully followed potato crops in Hastings, Florida.
These varieties are capable of being planted in summer and
harvested in the late fall.
Tropical corn may offer an alternative to traditional
corn varieties planted in the region. Its advantages are as
follows. First, it involves no new learning since practices
are basically the same as for traditional corn. Planted
towards summer, it avoids the early spring drought period and
is tassling during a period when rain is fairly consistent.
Traditional corn varieties planted in March and April face a
40% chance of drought induced failure in Suwannee and a 30%
chance in Columbia counties (Renner 1982). The hardness of
the kernel is beneficial for storage, since traditional corn
is commonly damaged by weevils. Some farmers believe that
despite the harder kernels, it might be usable as a fall sweet
corn for human consumption.
Finally, tropical corn could work into a doublecropping
system, following a winter grain crop, and is less expensive
to plant than are soybeans. Many farmers would like to be
able to plant both a winter and summer grain, in order to
obtain sufficient feed for their livestock and/or have the
additional cash flow. Corn potentially can pick up residual
fertilizer when following a winter grain crop, and contribute
organic when plowed under in the winter. Farmers would not
require to make any changes in their storage facilities,
unlike what would be necessary with a crop like sorghum, which
has high moisture content.
The disadvantages of tropical corn are that it faces
greater weed and particularly insect problems, including
nematode damage, than are faced by traditional corn planted
earlier in the year. While insecticides are available,
farmers tend not. to use them because high evaporation rates
make effective saturation into the plant difficult to achieve.
Costs are also high.
Winter grains, also proposed by the FSR/E team as an
alternative to traditional corn, do not face these problems to
the same degree as does corn. However, farm households need
to crop their land in summer, and finding an appropriate
summer crop is a research priority.
--examine varietal responses under regional conditions
--examine the effect of varying planting dates and
fertilizer rates on tropical corn yields
--examine insect damage and weed competition effects
--us.e enterprise records to compare tropical cGrn
economics against traditional corn costs
During 1983, tropical corn was planted on 5 farms and on
station. Planting dates were during the first 2 weeks of June
at all sites. Farmers were provided with up to 5 acres worth
of seed, with the understanding that 1 acre would be
researcher-managed, and costs of this acre born by FSR/E. The
farmers were responsible for the remaining acreage and all
Planting was in 36" rows and with a spacing of 14" to
achieve 12,500 plants per acre. The farm trials examined 12
treatments. These included 4 soil applied
insecticide/nematicide treatments -- none (control), Furadan
at 15#/acre at planting, split Furadan applications (7.5#/acre
each at planting and lay-by), and Counter at 15#/acre at
planting. Nitrogen was applied at either 15 or 30#/acre at
planting. A total of 90# N/acre was applied, the difference
being made up at lay-by. Approximately 29#/acre S was added
in the form of ammonium sulphate. The other 3 treatments were
for insects. These treatments overlaid the soil treatments
and involved using Sevin, Lanate or no.treatment (control).
Yield samples were taken from both farmer and
researcher-managed sections of the fields.
Station trials were 3 in number. One was a replicate of
the on farm trials. One examined 10 cultivars, and the third
involved a more detailed insect control/nitrogen fertilizer
A 3 week dry period in the middle of the summer severely
stressed the corn. This drought was unexpected. The team had
not planted their corn in water furrows, as did the farmers,
and researcher-managed yields in general were lower than
farmer-managed yields. Table D-l provides the data which are
presently available. Additional on farm data analysis is
forthcoming. It should be noted that on 2 farms, data were
not obtained because of practically non-existent yields. In
one case, weeds were not controlled and choked the corn, and
in another, extremely poor land combined with the drought
killed the corn.
Table D-1. Tropical Corn Yields, 1983. (Means)
Treatment Station Farm (N=l)
type 15# N 30# N (bu/acre)
la 12.09 25.48 30.38
Ib 23.41 16.27 32.15
ic 17.00 25.11 48.11
'2a 13.64 10.37 41.13
2b 16.04 10.46 39.68
2c 20.72 17.06 43.77
3a 21.05 18.33 35.15
3b 13.32 14.19 40.77
3c 21.80 19.20 33.52
4a 12.63 13.08 34.06
4b 13.06 10.14 40.19
4c 24.06 19.16 41.17
Treatments: soil: l=none, 2=full Furadan, 3=split Furadan,
spray: a=none, b=Sevin, c=Orthene.
No significant differences appeared in any of the trials
for any of the treatments.
Insect damage was great this year, and dry weather
combined to reduce yields and possibly overshadow any
treatment differences that might otherwise have resulted.
Further analysis might reveal interaction differences. It
tentatively appears that Orthene may be an effective spray
treatment but it would be economical only with higher yields.
Applying an initial 30#N/acre did appear to allow the corn to
outgrow insect damage to some extent.
Farmer yields were higher than on researcher-managed
plots, and in general, farmers were impressed with the corn,
especially its ability to withstand the drought experienced.
One farmer achieved yields approaching 80 bushels/acre in some
plots, but these data are not fully available at present.
Most importantly, farmers appreciate the hardiness of the
tropical corn kernels which allows it to withstand weevil
damage in storage. They raised questions regarding the
possibility of planting it earlier during the year, similar to
the time they plant traditional varieties.
The following observations were made in 1983 which were
used to guide development of the 1984 work.
--cultivation practices are .important for this cultivar
as they are for traditional corn. Use of a water furrow which
additionally helps control weeds is a good practice to adopt.
The use of subsoiling could offset drought problems and needs
to be investigated
--the higher N applications initially may help the plants
outgrow insect damage to them; fertilization work therefore
needs to continue
--variety testing clearly is needed
--other variables to examine are time of planting and the
economics of applying insecticides
Proposed 1984 Research
Farm trials in 1984 will examine Pioneer 304C versus 2-3
other tropical varieties. Farmers will be allowed to plant
when they want, providing a range of planting data data. On
some farms, the. subsoiler developed by the team will be
employed versus control plots.
Station trials will examine a variety of planting dates
from April 1 to August 4. Subsoiling versus conventional
tillage methods will be additional treatments. In another
trial, nitrogen rates and type of nitrogen (granular versus
anhydrous) will be examined, especially in relationship to
growth rates and insect damage.
RESEARCH FOCUS E: WINTER GRAINS
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, CAPITAL, ALTERNATIVE GRAINS,
FERTILIZER, ALTERNATIVE FORAGES
Description of Crops and Their Utility
Florida has not been a significant-producer of winter
grains largely because it is ecologically peripheral to the
better grain producing environment of the Midwest. However,
recent cultivar developments have made winter grain production
feasible. Farmers with livestock have been planting rye for
some time now, and modern oat varieties have also become
New wheat cultivars resistant to fungal diseases have
recently been introduced in the state, and received attention
because of their profitability and ability to fit into a
doublecropping system with soybeans or sorghum, and perhaps
tropical corn, under investigation by the FSR/E team.
A wheat-rye cross, triticale, is also receiving attention
because it has the hardiness, vigor and high lysine content of
rye with the grain quality, high protein content, productivity
and disease resistance of wheat. Triticale offers the
potential for providing high quality livestock feed (a grain
market is non-existent at present), supplementing summer feed
grain production. The cross appears to have an advantage over
wheat in sandy, acidic.soils and yet is managed like wheat.
The farming systems team began to work with these winter
crops in 1981. Farmers had reported major problems with corn,
the major cash crop and animal feed source on many family
farms. Corn suffered drought-induced yield losses, prices
were low due to overproduction, and yields did not justify the
fertilization costs which had constantly risen over the past
decade. Many farmers, either due to inadequate storage or
pcor-cash flow, needed a winter crop in order to provide the
full year's feed requirements of their livestock. Winter
grains offered an alternative or a winter supplement to corn
production. The team is presently examining summer
alternatives to traditional corn, such as tropical corn and
possibly sorghum. Successful development of a late season
planted summer grain would allow a wheat/summer grain
Winter grains are planted at a time of the year when
rainfall is usually adequate and insect populations are down.
It thus avoids the major biological problems faced by corn.
The problems winter grains do face are as follows: 1) farmers
do have to better manage wheat to obtain yields; 2) wheat
cultivars eventually become susceptible to disease and
on-going genetic research must be done to keep ahead of this;
3) wheat prices, like corn, are subject to Midwest production.
Winter grains nevertheless were an attractive potential
alternative for farm systems in the region. Farmers raised
many questions about their production. Could winter wheat be
grazed, as is done in the Midwest and as is done with rye and
oats in Florida? What effects did planting date and
withholding nitrogen until the crop was established have on
wheat yields? (Rye is planted from Octobver to January and
often fertilized late by these farmers.) Which grains were
more profitable? In addition, observations in 1981 and 1982
indicated that micronutrient deficiencies might be severe in
the region. Since many farmers did not soil. test and
apparently were ct familiar with micronutrients, they were
not recognizing this problem. Research conducted by the team
attempted to address these questions.
SYNTHESIS OF RESEARCH FINDINGS
SPECIFIC RESEARCH FINDINGS
RESEARCH FOCUS: Time of Planting Winter Wheat
--determine the effect of planting date on growth and
yield of Florida 301 wheat
--determine the effect of varying the timing of
nitrogen applications on grain yield and incidence
of septoria infection
Both years involved on station trials.
1981-82. Planting dates were October 15 and 30, November
15 and 30, and December 15 and 30. Seeding rate was
consistent at 1.5 bushels/acre. Fertilization was applied as
30#/acre N and 33#/acre K20 at plant, followed by 50#/acre N
in late January as a top dressing.
1982-83. Planting dates were November 5 and 24, December
15, and January 6. Two additional variables were introduced,
based upon questions raised during the previous year, and
overlaid on the planting date treatments. They were septoria
control and timing of the second N fertilization. The wheat
was planted in plots surrounded by Georgia 7199 oats as
borders, so that sprayed could be separated from non-sprayed
plots. Manzate was employed. The second N application times
were January 21, February 10 and March 2.
Results from both years' trials are presented in Table
E-1. Included for comparative purposes are yield data
obtained from farm enterprise records kept by 26 farmers in
1982-83. On farm planting dates varied widely, so for
inclusion in the table, means of farm yields for each planting
date range (e.g., early October plantings, early November
plantings, etc.) have beer calculated.
Table E-l. Effects of Planting Date on Grain Yields,
Date Non-sprayed Sprayed
Farmer (N=1) 36.0(a)
Farmer (N=1) 45.0
11/ 5/82 -22 .9(b) 42.4(b)
Farmer (N=5)p 37. &
11/24/82 25.5 32.2
Farmer (N=4) 35.3
12/15/82 22.2 30.7
Farmer (N=5) '32.4
1/ 6/82 8.4 17.3
Farmer (N=l) 10.0
(a) Data were collected by Bruce Dehm and John Wake.
(b) Numbers are mean yields summed across all fertilizer
Response of 301 and Non-301
Varying N Rates, 1981-82,
Wheat Varieties to
- - I
SU-i Table E-2 presents wheat yields as a function of the
T c timing of the second nitrogen fertilization during 1982-83.
The data include information from the 11 farm operations which
? n split their N fertilization.
STable E-2. Wheat Mean Yields as Related to Time
of Second N Application, 1982-83.
T T Location Dec. Late Jan. Feb. Mar.
Sprayed 25.77 34.19 27.02
non-sprayed 17.12 23.20 23.90
S Farm 36.0 27.50 36.30 40.5
1982. The team's choice to use FL 301 wheat was
validated through comparisons of farm records. The yields
obtained with 301 were approximately twice those obtained with
other cultivars regardless of the nitrogen rate applied, as
Figure E-1 shows. This yield advantage relates to the disease
resistance characteristics of FL 301.
Grain yields of wheat planted on station during October
3E and November 15 achieved yields significantly different
from other dates; in fact, the October 30 planting obtained
the highest yield. However, septoria was noted on the wheat
and yields regardless of planting date were low because of it
and because of learning problems associated with the novelty
of the crop. One of the reasons for the November 15
recommended planting date is in order that the wheat avoid
septoria. Questions about septoria's effect on yield and of
when to apply fertilizer were raised by both farmers and
extension agents this year. Research designs were adjusted
for the 1982-83 season in order to address these questions.
Farm enterprise data suggested the need to examine
fertilization practices in particular, as farmer applications
of it were highly variable (see Research Focus A: Enterprise
Wheat fertilization level trials conducted in 1981-82 and
1982-83 verified the early IFAS suggestion that FL 301 wheat
receive 80#/acre N. Nitrogen in excess of this amount
provides diminishing returns. (See "Research Focus F:
1983. Table E-1 presents data showing that spraying
significantly increased wheat yields only on the earliest
planted wheat. Evidence from a number of planting trials
indicates that FL 301 achieves high yields when planted in
late October, but septoria conditions are ideal during the
wetter months of October and early November, infesting wheat
planted at this time. Septoria is less problematic on wheat
Two years' data and enterprise records lead to the
observation that farmers in the region can plant in the first
part of November without significantly reducing yields nor
requiring spraying, which is costly. Enterprise records
collected by Wake and observations by county agents indicate
that spraying is not done by many farmers and those who do
spray have large acreages.
Yields on non-sprayed wheat have been consistently higher
when planting has occurred in mid-November. This apparently
holds regardless of fertitiliatio practice (i.e., split versus
single applications of N), as data in Table F-2 verify. (See
Research Focus F.)
Wheat planted early (late October) which additionally is
sprayed achieved the highest yields, but the fungicide costs
are not justified on small acreages. Farmers who plant early
risk lower yields if they do not spray and would be advised to
graze their wheat, in order to assure a higher economic return
(see next section on grazing). The data indicate.that
planting after the December 15 recommended date severely
There were no significant differences observed on yields
related to time of fertilization on station. Enterprise
record data and data from wheat planted into perennial peanut
(See "Research Foci F: Fertilization Studies and G: Perennial
Peanut) suggest that splitting the N application does improve
yield, but not significantly. Whether nitrogen is applied
singly or split, highest yields are obtained when the majority
oafthek application is made between February and early March.
Barnett, the wheat.breeder at Quincy, recommends this
practice. Physiologically, it is at this time that the wheat
is emerging from its dormancy and demanding nutrients for
These findings may be offered as suggestions guiding
wheat production in the region:
--seed at a rate of 1.5 bushels/acre
--plant in mid-November for non-sprayed grain production.
Plant in late October if spraying is feasible. Plant in early
November for grazing/grain production
--split the application of N if possible. The critical
timing for either a second application or a single one appears
to be from February to early March; the earlier the wheat is
planted, the earlier the application is suggested. A farmer
can put 1/3 of the N on at plant and 2/3's on at this time,
--sulpher deficiencies need to be watched for; 20#/acre S
is recommended (see "Research Focus F: Fertilization")
--plant frost-resistant varieties like FL 301 and 302
Proposed 1984 Research
Having established that winter grains may be grown in the
region, trials being conducted this year are examining other
kinds of grains. These include Beagle 82 triticale and a new
oat cultivar, Florida fGO. There are 4 on farm trials and 1
on station. The major variables being examined are yiLeld
differences between these grains and the question of N
All- treatments received 50#/acre K20 and 20#/acre S at
planting (these nutrients having been determined as necessary
by fertilization trials). N application treatments include
single -- 90#/acre N applied in February, and split --
30#/acre N applied at planting and 60#/acre in February.
The region experienced a severe and extended frost in
late December. This frost significantly damaged the oats. It
stunted the early growth of the wheat and triticale, but these
have recovered after a warm spring. Observations of FL 301
versus 302 wheat on farm indicate that the latter may be more
frost-resistant. The greater resistance of wheat and
triticale to frost may be yet another advantage to their
adoption in the region over other grains.
RESEARCH FOCUS: GRAZING WHEAT
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT PRACTICES; CAPITAL; ALTERNATIVE
GRAINS; ALTERNATIVE FORAGE
--determine the effect of planting date on the
grazing of Fl 301 wheat
--evaluate the effects of grazing duration and
planting date on grain yield and septoria
--examine the effects of grazing intensity on yield,
grain quality and septoria infection
--develop a wheat grazing management strategy
1982. One trial was established on farm and one on
station. Florida 301 variety was used. Fertilization
involved 120#/acre N, 40# of which were applied after grazing
was halted. Wheat on farm was planted on October 28; on
station wheat was planted October 30 and December 4. Grazing
began in late December. Every 2 weeks beginning with week 0
of grazing, barbed wire fences were used in creating
exclosures. On farm grazing effects on wheat yields were
measured for weeks 0 to 6, while on station effects were
measured from weeks 0 to 12. Grazing pressure was consistent
on farm at approximately 1.2 animal units/acre. On station
grazing pressure was inconsistent, ranging from 0 to 8 animal
units/acre-day (mob grazing). Pressure averaged 1.5 A.U. for
the early planting and 1.1 A.U. for the late planting. Beef
weight gains were not measured.
1983. Septoria problems in 1982 led the team to consider
including spraying as a variable in this year's experiments.
Trials were again placed on farm and on station. Planting
occurred on November 8 on farm-and November 15 on station.
Farm grazing was measured for weeks 0 to 6, while on station
grazing was measured for weeks 0 to 10. Half the plots on
station were sprayed for septoria and half were not. Grazing
intensity on farm remained at 1.5 A.U./acre, but on station
intensity varied. Animals were not grazed consistently within
intensity regimes due to management difficulties, but
estimates of mean intensity rates within regimes were as
follows: low C A.U./acre) to medium ( A.U./acre) to
high ( .A.U./acre). Septoria ratings were periodically
Effects of grazing on wheat grain yields are presented in
the following two tables. The first table presents the on
farm data, the second on station data.
Table E-2. Effect of Grazing on Wheat Grain Yields, On
Farm, 1981-82, 1982-83.
Grazing Wks. 1982 Yield 1983 Yield (bu/ac)
0 29.9 18.8
2 27.8 24.9
4 26.8 22.6
6 24.2 21.3
Note: differences are not significant within year.
4 6 8
Florida 30t wheat grain yields in response to cattle
Table E-3. Effect on Grazing on Wheat Grain Yields, On
Station, 1981-82, 1982-83.
Grazing Oct. 30 Dec. 4
High Med Low
High Med Low
Note: significant yield differences were obtained for wheat
grazed before and after 6 weeks for Oct. 30-81 planting, 4
weeks for Dec. 4-81 planting, and 8 weeks for the 1983
plantings. Grazing length interactions with septoria control
did not significantly affect yields. Significant differences
were observed between the controlled and uncontrolled plots in
nearly all instances, however.
Figure E-2 graphically illustrates the grazing yield
relationships presented in Table E-3.
Table E-4 lists the test weights obtained in the 1982-83
on station trial. Septoria does lower test weights, which can
mean important losses to the farmer at the market.
Test Weights of Grazed Wheat, Spray versus
(adjusted to 13.5% moisture)
Animal weight gains were not measured the first year.
1983 on farm data showed average weight gains of 1.5#/_av for
Angus calves and 2.5#/day for.Holstein calves. On station
weight gains were not measured but observations indicated good
gains were achieved.
Septoria. 1981-82 offered conditions ripe for septoria. A
survey conducted by Dr. Luke on station after 6 weeks of
grazing found infection incidences of 7.1% at 0 weeks, 22.9%
at 2 weeks, 22.1% at 4 weeks, and 16.8% at 6 weeks. During
1983, ratings of septoria were carried out on station between
plots which had been sprayed and those left untreated. The
results are presented in Table E-5.
Table E-5. Green leaf area per plant (cm2) as Basis for
Determining Septoria Infection.
Date Controlled Non-Controlled
Apr 21 77 29
Apr 28 27 8
May 5 17 14
The yield data for 1983 show that spraying does improve final
grain yield regardless of grazing length.
Data from two years indicate that grazing does not
significantly reduce yields up to 6 weeks and possibly up to 8
weeks. Wheat must be planted earlier than recommended in
order to be grazed, and requires additional nitrogen once the
cattle are pulled to promote recovery. Studies of wheat
growth indicate that if the growing point is damaged by
grazing, this severely reduces yield. Wheat begins to rapidly
grow in early February and livestock should be removed by
Observations suggest that grazing should be continuous
and at a steady pressure. Pulling the cattle for a time
allows the wheat to begin to grow back. Allowing the cattle
back onto the wheat may damage the apical meristem.
Grazing intensity effects on wheat yield are
contradictory and inconsistent. Observations indicated that
mob grazing destroyed parts of the wheat field in 1982 on
station. 1983 data are somewhat questionable because the
cattle were not consistently grazed on the wheat. The team
has estimated that a farmer should not exceed 1,000# animal
weight per acre when grazing.
The team hypothesized during 1981-82 that grazing might
inhibit septoria infection, thereby providing higher test
weights for the grain. The 1982-83 data indicate that varying
grazing intensities did not significantly reduce septoria
infection nor, therefore, influence test weights. It is not
economical for most farmers in the clientele to spray but the
economic benefits gained by grazing the wheat more than make
up for reductions in test weights, as discussed below.
As on wheat raised solely for grain, grazed wheat suffers
from septoria and yields are reduced when not sprayed.
Septoria spraying is expensive and farmers would have to
remove their cattle in order to spray. The weight gains
achieved by the animals outweigh the increased yield obtained
by spraying, according to estimates made by the team. The
additional net economic gain from one acre of grazed wheat is
approximately $72.00. This assumes 3 calves gaining 50#
apiece, with a # weight value of $.60.
When would it not be profitable for a farmer to graze
wheat? If grazing gives a farmer an additional cash return
of $72.00 (this is net return after accounting for the costs
of 50#/acre added N required), then grazing would be less
profitable if a farmer could be guaranteed to make more than
$72.0, on wheat which was not grazed. Assu.ming wheat is worth
$3.00/bushel, the farmer would have to obtain a yield of 24
bushels more than that obtained after grazing. The team
research indicates that grazing does not reduce yields by so
drastic an amount. The real advantage of grazing is that,.
should yields be low because of weather or other conditions,
grazing assures some benefit is achieved from the wheat.
According.to actual 1981-82 wheat budgets, the one farmer
who grazed his wheat had the highest gross margin of all
farmers who produced wheat in the sample even though his yield
was 16 bushels less than the highest yield obtained! (Compare
a gross margin of $83.35 with a yield of 29 bushels/acre to
$81.16 with a yield of 45 bushels.) Of the 5 farmers who
grazed wheat during 1982-83, all had substantially higher
gross margins than they would have had by selling their grain
alone, even accounting for some yield loss due to grazing. In
tact^ it appears that in two cases, grazing was the factor
that ppulled their gross margins into the "black." (See
Research Eocus AM Enterprise Records.)
In sum, grazing is a means of assuring income from wheat
in bad years, and providing forage during winter months. The
team estimates that a farmer can reduce his/her rye acreage by
1/4 for every unit of wheat planted. With rye costs
increasing, this provides additional potential savings.
The FSR/E team has made the following recommendations
concerning wheat grazing:
--plant October 15-November 15
--graze from late December to no more than the first week
--do not graze below a height of 3 inches
--do not exceed a grazing intensity of 1,000#/acre; graze
--watch for sulpher deficiencies
--apply 50#/acre additional N after the cattle are
removed. As with grain production, a February application is
strongly suggested. In grazing, application of N prior to
grazing is needed in order the wheat to withstand the animal
Wheat is highly susceptible to disease. Florida is
beginning a wheat program, but periodic grazing trials will
probably be required as new cultivars are tested.
1984 Planned Research
--compare grazing effects on FL 311 versus FL 302
varieties of wheat on forage production, grain
yield and quality, and incidence of Septoria
--compare grazing effects on FL 301 versus Beagle 82
Triticale (a wheat-rye cross) on grain yield and
Planting procedures were followed as in previous years.
The on farm wheat was planted on October 16, and station wheat
on November 8. Farm wheat will be grazed from 0 to 10 weeks,
with treatments of spray versus non-spray for Septoria.
Station wheat will be grazed from a to & weeks.
A bad frost in late December hurt the triticale but it
appears to have generally recovered. The FL 302 wheat appears
to offer greater frost resistance and longer-term grazing than
does FL 301. Grazing may potentially be extended on the 302
to 8-10 weeks.
These trials are designed to further test the validity of
the observations made on grazing wheat over the past 2 years.
The introduction,of FL 302 wheat occurred in 1984, and Beagle
82 triticale is also a new addition offering potential as a
forage/grain crop approaching the quality of wheat protein
with the productivity and hardiness of rye. This research
indicates the team's awareness of the need to test new
cultivars for grazing purposes as they become available.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Physiological Changes in Wheat
Associated with Variable Grazing
(Thesis Project of Flora Munthali, of Malawi)
--determine the physiological changes in anthesis and
related development of wheat plants resulting from variable
Data have been collected for two years now on the grazing
trials on station and on farm. Wheat samples were taken every
couple of weeks and physiological stage of development noted
within each of the grazing treatments, as described in the
previous section. Analysis of these samples is proceeding,
and conclusions should be available by the fall of 1984.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Oats Overseeded in Bahia Sod
-determine the effect of overseeding oats into a
field of established bahia pasture, including the
effect on the following hay production
--determine the best method for overseeding the oats
Four methods of overseeding were employed on one farm in
a pasture that was 4-5 years oldL The methods included
broadcast followed by a drag, no-till grain drill, a renovator
and grain drill with two-way hydraulic action, and the same
grain drill without the renovator. The two-way hydraulic
action was used to open a wide enough furrow for the seed to
firmly embed in the sod.
The broadcast method did not allow adequate seed
establishment and stands were sparse. The grain drill methods
showed good coverage, though yield data are not available yet
and measures of effect on hay will not be available until late
fall of 1984. The cooperator has been cutting the oats for
hay. One observation is that the bahia under the oats appears
to be growing mucz more rapidly than in an adjacent pasture.
It is hypothesized that this reflects fertilization but also
perhaps the fact that the oats protected the grass from the
frosts over winter.
The economic benefit of this overseeding system would be
tremendous to farmers in the reg 'n, if it'proves to be
successful over the years. The main reasons are as follows:
1) a pasture can be utilized year-round; 2) greater forage
would potentially be provided to livestock farmers; and 3) the
pasture may actually benefit from an overseeded winter
It should be noted, however, that the grain drill used
must be capable of opening a furrow in the sod, requiring
special hydraulics. This is a relatively small investment to
RESEARCH FOCUS Fr FERTILIZATION TRIALS
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, FERTILIZER
Description of Research
Fertilizer practices vary greatly among farmers in the
clientele, as enterprise records and observation oversupplying
critical elements like N and P, and cutting back on rates when
yields do not appear to justify them. K20 rated used by
farmers are commonly lower than recommended.
The introduction of new crops to the area, particularly
winter grains, soybeans and tropical corn, has led farmers to
question how to best fertilize these crops given the region's
biophysical base. Many applied their traditional
fertilization practices to these new crops, leading the
farming systems team to focus research on these practices as
contrasted to IFAS recommendations. The major goal of the
fertilization trials is to determine optimum fertilization
practices from the clientele's point of view. Specifically,
the team is examining the hypothesis that while high rates of
fertilization are required to achieve optimum-yields, lower
fertilizer rates, perhaps applied less often, than those
currently recommended are more economical. Biophysical
conditions limit yields in the region and fertilizer
recommendations can possibly be adjusted to these yield
Observations of wheat in 1981-82 and discussions with Dr.
Cliff Heibsch additionally pointed out possible micronutrient
deficiencies affecting crop yields. The team thus began
research with the Soils Science department examining S, Mn and
SPECIFIC RESEARCH FOCI
RESEARCH FOCUS: N, K trials on wheat
--detemiiine the yield response of FL 301 wheat
to varying K20 rates and timing of application
--determine the yield response of FL 301 wheat
to varying N rates and timing of application
On farm researcher-managed trials were conducted in
1982-83 on 5 separate locations. An on station trial also was
conducted. K20 rates went from 0, 40, 80 to 120#/acre, and N
rates varied similarly in a split plot design. Times of
application were two: split, with 1/2 the fertilizer put out
at planting and the remainder in February as a top dressing,
and single, with all fertilizer added in February.
In a related on station trial examining septoria control
versus non-control, N second applications were also varied
across three dates. These were January 21, February 10 and
March 2. For details, see Research Focus E: Winter Grains
(wheat). Enterprise records provide additional data on N rate
variation effects on yield.
Table F-l presents the yields obtained from the N-K20
trials. Table F-2 presents the yields obtained in the
septoria trial where N application times were varied. Tables
F-3 through F-5 present data from farm enterprise records,
collected by John Wake.
Yields as Affected by Varying Rates of
N and K20, 1982-83.
N Rate 1
5 Mean Tot.(a)
(a) yields in bushels/acre; data represent mean yields across
all K20 rates
Table F-2. Yields as Affected by Timing of Second
N Fertilization, with Control for Septoria,
Mar. 2 (a)
(a) yields are in bushels/acre.
Table F-3. Management Practices of 25 Farmers
Regarding Fertilizer Application on Wheat,
Plant Application Practice
Date Single Split
Oct. 1 1
Nov. 5 1
Dec. 8 7
Table F-4. Yields as Affected by Timing of N Appli-
cation, Farm Enterprise Records, 1982-83.
Application Date Fertilizer Applied
Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar. (a)
Single-Wake 38.0 32.0 38.0 33.7 25.0
Single-Dehm 34.7 36.0 --30.6--(b)
Split-Wake 36.0' 27.5 36.3 40.5
Split-Dehm 27.5 42.0 40.0
(a) Dates refer to when fertilizer was applied singly or, if
split, to date of second application. Yields are mean
(b) Wake collected data from 25 farmers. Dehm collected data
from 16 farmers. Some of Wake's data have been taken from
Table F-5. Profits as Related to Timing of Second
N Fertilization, 25 Farm Enterprise Records,
Application Date Fertilizer Applied
'Now. Dec. Jan. Feb. Mar.
Single (N=14 $29 $-12 $22 $17 $-16
Split (N=11) $-15 $-54 $9.50 $32.50
No significant yield responses occurred to K20
applications, even on fields where soil tests indicated low
amounts of K20 were present.
No significant differences in wheat yields were observed
related to when the fertilizer was applied (split versus
single) appeared in the researcher-managed trials. Data from
farm records indicate that perhaps a majority of farmers in
the region apply single N fertilizer applications to wheat.
Their yields did not appear to be hurt by this--in fact,
single fertilizations made in January and February produced
yields equal to or surpassing those obtained by farmers who
split their fertilizations. Additionally, profit margins
favor a single application in most instances, alhtough this
statement is made on limited data.
Figure F-1 presents yield responses to the N and K20
across various farm sites or "environments," as determined by
use of the modified stability index (see Appendix A). The
index is actually i.;-.,ropriate here, as there are
insufficient environments. However, the figure indicates that
regardless of environment, addition of these elements improves
The result of a few years experience with raising wheat
indicates that 80#/acre N should remain the recommended
practice when grain production is desired.
What does stand out from the data, and from physiological
evidence, is that nitrogen needs to be applied between
late-January and early March. Farmers planting early should
apply towards late January; farmers planting later should
apply during February or March.
Prior to these months, the wheat is dormant, but during
these months, it begins to grow rapidly and requires
nutrients. Farmers applying splitting early should apply
towards late January; farmers planting later should apply
during February or March.
Prior to these months, the wheat is dormant, but during
these months, it begins to grow rapidly and requires
nutrients. Farmers applying splitmade between mid-January and
late February, appear to be as effective a practice as split
applications. If split fertilization is done, a majority of
the N should go on during the second application.
Observations of farmer practices indicate that many of them
prefer a single late application. Swisher notes this 1)
limits nutrient loss prior to root system establishment, 2)
allows the grower to adjust fertilizer rates in areas where
"the stand is poor,, 3) reduces spreader truck costs and
management commitments, and 4) increases residual N and K20
for a. following crop. A single late application appears to be
the most rational one when a farmer has management and capital
While fertilization is important, farmers should
understand that more critical to wheat production are variety,
planting date and applying an N rate of 80#/acre. (See
Research Focus A: Winter Grains.)
The results with K20 are inconclusive, and more research
is needed. Farmer experience and these data suggest that it
might be possible to eventually recommend that K20 be applied
every x-th year, rather than annually.
1984 Proposed Research
N Trials. Single verus split applications of N are being
examined for the wheat-oat-tritcale trials on farm and on
station. (See Research Focus E: Winter Grains.) Split
applications involve 30#/acre N at plant and 60# in February.
Single involve a February application of 90#/acre. This
should enable the team to determine conclusively the question
regarding single versus split applications.
K20 Trial. There are 3 on farm trials and 1 on station,
using wheat. K20 rates varied from 0, 40, 80 to 120#/acre.
Applications were applied as single (February) or split (1/2
at plant, 1/2 in February). All plots received a basic
fertilization of 30#/acre N and 10#/acre S at plant, and 60# N
and 10# S in February. 2 farms will be followed by soybeans
and K20 effects will be monitored there.
RESEARCH FOCUS: S, Mn, Zn applications
--determine the response of wheat yields to micro-
element rates for the purpose of making recom-
mendations for when they should be applied
Trials were conducted on 3 farms and on station in
1982-83. Sulpher, magnesium and zinc formed the main
treatments. S was applied at 20#/acre, Mn and Zn at 5#/acre.
These microe-lements were either added separately, or mixed in
all possible combinations (e.g., S alone; S-Mn; S-Mn-Zn,
etc.). Control plots received no fertilizer. Applications
were made singly or split for the S treatments, resulting in
12 total treatments. See Figure F-2.
Figure F-2. Treatments in Microelement Trials, 1982-83.
Control --Mnr + S single
Mn Mn + S. split
Zn ..-: + S single-&
S single Zn + S split
S split Mn + Zn + S single
Mn + Zn Mn + Zn + S split
Table F-6 presents the results from these trials.
Table F-6. Yield Responses of Wheat to Microelement
Fertilizer Rates, 1982-83.
Treatment 1 2 3 4 Mean Tot.(a)
Mn+Sl 32.6 23.0 36.9 34.2 31.67
Mn+Zn 33.8 19.7 37.7 31.3 --30.62
Mn+Zn+Sl 34.0 17.8 35.3 34.2 30.30
Mn 30.6 20.1 36.0 34.3 30.25
Zn+Sl 34.1 15.7 38.7 32.4 30.20
Sl 32.1 19.5 33.8 31.2 29.15
Mn+Zn+S2 32.0 17.3 37.2 29.3 28.95
Mn+S2 27.7 19.4 38.1 29.9 28.77
Zn+S2 32.7 17.0 35.5 29.8 28.75
S2 32.3 20.1 34.2 28.1 28.67
Zn 31.7 15.5 33..4 28.7 27.32
Ctrl 30.2 15.4 31.9 28.9 26.60
Note: treatments have been ranked from highest to lowest mean
In all cases, addition of microelements increased wheat
yields over control plots. The greatest yield increases were
obtained with the Mn + S single treatment, which gave a mean
yield increment of 6 bushels over that of the control. The
first three treatments were associated with yields
significantly different from all other treatment yields by
This experiment was complicated and additional research
is required before conclusions may be reached. However, the
results with S in this research in addition to demonstration
plots placed on farm indicate its need in the region.
The application of 20#/acre S adds about $4.00 to the per
acre fertilization costs. Yet if S increases yields by 3-6
bushels as in these trials, the net return to the fertilizer
is approximately $5.00-15.00, and thus well worth the
1984 Proposed Research
3 on farm trials are being conducted. Treatments include
S (20#/acre), no S, Mn, Zn, Mn + Zn, control. Mn and Zn are
applied at 5#/acre. All plots received a base fertilization
of 30#/acre N and 50#/acre K20 at plant, and 60# N and 50# K20
RESEARCH FOCUS: Soybean Fertility Studies
--determine the effect of varying K20 rates on soybean
yields in mono- and double-crop systems
--determine the effect of varying Mg and S rates on
soybean yields in mono- and double-crop systems
K20 Studies: In 1982, 2 on farm experiments were
conducted. K20 rates were applied at 0, 25, 50, 75, 100 and
125#/acre, at 200#/acre, and one application was split with
50# applied at planting and 50# -as a sidedressing. All plots
received 60#/acre P205 and 30#/acre TEM 300.
In 1983, 6 trials were conducted. 3 were on farm and
followed a wheat crop; 2 were on farm not following wheat, and
an on station trial followed wheat. The soybeans following
wheat were Subjected to rates of K20 varying from 0 to
120#/acre at 40# increments. In fields not following wheat,
K20 rates varied from 0 to 80#/acre. Applications were
divided between single and split.
Microelement Studies: In 1982, 1 on farm study involving
Mg was conducted. Mg rates were applied as MgS04 at 0, 10,
20, 30, 40, 60, 80 and 120#/acre, and 2 plots received
40#/acre as either dolomite or MgOH. All plots received
60#/acre P205, 30#/acre TEM 300, 100#/acre K20, and S at
25.9-104#/acre (as MgS04).
In 1983, 3 farms participated in Mg and S studies on
soybeans, in addition to an on station trial. Plots for both
fertilizer trials received 10.0#/acre K20. Mg was applied as
either MgOH, MgS04, or MgS04 in addition to dolomite. P205
was added on the basis of soil test recommendations. Figure
F-3 provides the treatment rates at which Mg was applied in
its various forms.
Figure F-3. Treatment Rates of Mg on Soybean Trials,
1) MgS04-dolomite 2) MgS04 3) MgOH
0 0 40
S rates -were applied at 0, 10 and. 20/acre., with Mg rates held
constant at 40#/acre.
K20 Trials: Table F-7 presents results from the 1982
trials. 1983 on farm data were lost due to severe weed
problems. On station data were collected, but samples were
apparently lost in transit and. have not been located to date.
Table F-7. Soybeans Yields in Response to Varying
K20 Rates, 1982.
K20 Rates Farm 1 Farm 2 (bu/acre)
0#/acre 16.6 29.2
25 16.1 30.4
50 19.8 36.0
75 14.7 29.7
100 21.0 / 39.5
125 16.6 33.9
200 19.8 35.1
mean 18.5 32.9
No significant differences were obtained between yields,
seed quality or seed weight during 1982. Average seed quality
was 2.7 (on scale of 1-5) on both farms, and average seea
weight was 28.4 for farm 1 and 26.6 for farm 2. Farmer 1
planted soybeans for the first time in 1982; farmer 2 had a
few years experience.
Microelement Trials: Table F-8 presents results from the
1983 trials. 1982 trial data were taken but low yields, due
to poor nodulation across the entire field, may help to
explain the insignificant results obtained. The nodulation
problem was attempted to be rectified by the addition of
100#/acre N, but results still were under 20 bushels/acre in
all plots. On station trial data for 1983 have not been
analyzed yet, but in the field observations suggest there were
no significant differences for either the Mg or S treatments.
Table F-8. Soybean Yields in Response to Varying Rates
of Mg and S, 1983.
Treatment Yield (bu/acre)
MgS04-dolomite MgS34 MgOH
0#/acre 25.1 36.6
10 25.2 38.0
20 18.1 36.5
40 21.9 38.0 35.5.
80 26.3 37.4
mean 23.7 37.0
No significant differences for either Mg or S treatments were
observed for these on farm trials.
While data are still being analyzed and additional trials
are in progress, the fact that yield differences have been
insignificant is promising. This is because it may soon be
possible to recommend reduced fertilization employing K20 and
microelements. However, long-term data are required,
especially for the doublecropping systems. Dr. Heibsch has
other trials distributed throughout a large region, the
results of which will feed back into soil fertilization
Planned 1984 Research
K20 trials will be conducted on 2 farms, with rates
applied at 0, 40 and 8@0/acre.
2 on farm and 1 on station microelement trials are
RESEARCH FOCUS G: PERENNIAL PEANUT
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, CAPITAL, FERTILIZER,
ALTERNATIVE GRAINS (WHEAT INTERCROP), ALTERNATIVE FORAGE
Description of Crop and Its Utility
Perennial.peanut (Arachis glabrata) is a forage legume.
It does not produce nuts but. rather a dense layer of rnizomes
topped:by a thick.mat of leaves. Primary growth occurs in the
warmer, wetter parts of the year. Further description of its
characteristics and research conducted on it at Florida may be
found in Prine et. al. (1981), "Florigraze" Rhizoma Peanut,
Circular S-275, Gainesville: IFAS, University of Florida.
The FSR/E team identified perennial peanut as a
potentially economical forage for livestock systems in north
Florida. Its crude protein value is equivalent to that of
alfalfa, being approximately 14-16%. Bermuda grass has a
value around I1%. Digestable matter has been measured at 60%
(Prine et, al. 1981). As a legume, it requires little
fertilization. As a perennial, it provides a consistent hay
crop from year to year. It is disease resistant and does well
even in dry weather. It forms a solid mat of rhizomes which
conserve soil moisture and inhibit erosion. These rhizomes
may be dug and transplanted, allowing a farmer to expand the
acreage of this crop or to enter the business of selling the
rhizomes. Because of its projected long-term utility and
multiple use functions, perennial peanut offers a lower cost,
lower management alternative to traditional forage crops
raised in the region like bermuda and bahia grass, which
demand costly nitrogen inputs--as much as 300#/acre 15-15-15
fertilizer plus an equivalent amount of ammonium nitrate. It
is estimated that the costs of one ton of perennial peanut hay
would be 21% lower than an equivalent amount of bahia hay
(Swisher, personal communication).
There are certain negative properties associated with
perennial peanut. The most important one is the two year
establishment period before it can be fully utilized. Another
one is the type of equipment needed to plant it, bermuda
spring diggers and planters, which are costly and not commonly
found on farms in the region. Other equipment, such as potato
diggers, can be used but are not as economical. Weeds compete
with the peanut in the first year and can prohibit effective
establishment. Finally, there is no information available on
the forage's digestability and effect on milk or meat
production in livestock.
The following basic research questions were identified by
the team in 1981 for perennial peanut. What was the best
method of establishing it? What weed control methods worked
best? Could a summer grain crop be overseeded into the peanut
during the first year, and could winter grains be overseeded
into established peanut sod, in order to achieve greater use
out of the land during the year? Would the winter grains
provide forage at a time of the year when forage is scarce?
What contribution does the forage make to milk production?
Synthesis of Research Findings
SPECIFIC RESEARCH FINDINGS
RESEARCH FOCUS: Establishment Procedures
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT
--develop peanut stands
--examine weed problems and control methods
--examine forage yield
--examine effects of method of planting
Florigraze variety perennial peanut was placed on 8 farms
during the spring of 1,982, and 2 plantings were made at Live
Oak Research Station.> In 1983, 16 additional plantings were
made on farm and 5 of the initial plantings had to be redone,
for a total of 21 on farm plantings. In 1984, (2) additional
plantings and (1) replanting were made on farm. Farmers
contributed approximately 2 acres of land each, and were
responsible for preparing the land before planting. They were
also responsible for monitoring the fields and mowing for
weeds. Land preparation w4s left to the farmer, and varied
from bottom plowing in lat fall followed by disking in spring
to disking alone. Farmers are obligated to provide 1/4 acre
of material to the team once the peanut is established.
There were some important differences between what was
done in 1982 and what was done in 1983.
1) 1982 plantings were made at a seeding rate of 40
bushels/acre. After observing poor stands, the seeding rate
was doubled to 80 bushels in 1983.
2) 1982 plantings were not innoculated with peanut
innoculum (one farmer provided some on his own), but the team
did provide this in 1983.
3) 1982 plantings were overseeded in some cases with
corn. This effectively shaded the peanut. This overseeing
was not performed in 1983.
4) Fields in 1983 were treated with a preplant
incorporation of Treflan some days prior to planting. This
was done to control grasses.
1984 procedures are discussed at the conclusion of this
Care of the peanut varied greatly from farm to farm,
reflecting not only variations in suils and weed problems
(grass versus broadleaves), but also overall management. Some
farmers selected extremely poor soils on which to plant the
peanut, while others selected good fields. Some farmers with
access to herbicides applied these when weed problems
appeared. Others mowed. In 1982, there was indecision on the
part of the team as to what weed control methods should be
suggested.to farmers. In 1983, farmers.were told to apply
whatever methods they felt would work on the basis of their
particular weed problems. The team itself made a number of
decisions to apply chemicals in some fields, both before and
after planting. There was no identifiable consistency in
terms of what costs for weed control the team provided to
At the LOARC, a method of planting trial was established
to measure differences resulting from use of the sprig digger
versus simply broadcasting and disking in the peanuts. This
trial was conducted in 1983 at a seeding rate of 80
bushels/acre. The fields were plowed and disked and were
clear of weeds. Weed control was done by mowing and chemical
application. Florigraze and Arbrook varieties were planted.
Peanuts were rated for coverage in both 1982 and 1983,
but the rating measures varied and are not comparable. Table
G-1 lists the findings of these ratings. Some data points are
missing for 1983.
Table G-l. Ratings of perennial peanut coverage,
(a) 1983 Good= >50%; fair= 35-49%; poor= <35%.
(b) first figure represents initial "eyeball" estimates;
second represents actual field sample measurements.
Table G-2 examines peanut coverage as a function of how
the peanuts were managed. There are two major headings,
plow-disk and disk, which refer to land preparation, and
within these various types of weed control are listed.
Table G-2 Perennial peanut coverage
management, 1983 data.
as a function of
(a) poor soil and/or extremely bad weeds
The on station results testing planting methods indicated
that broadcasting and disking the peanut in outperformed using
the more expensive sprig planter. A few farmers broadcast and
disked extra rhizomes during 1982 with mixed results. Further
investigation of these methods was thus indicated for 1984.
These data suggest that land preparation anu quality are
important, if not the most critical, factors for perennial
peanut establishment. A clean fielo is desirable ana should
be bottom plowea and disked prior to planting. ;eeds are
major pests ana compete with tne peanut. Farmer management
suggests that mowing may be as effective a control after
planting as chemicals; grazing may ruin the peanut the first
year if not controlled. Prine et. al. (1981) recommend
grazing not exceed 10 consecutive days. Weed variability is
great from field to field in north Florida and control
measures must be specific to the field. The peanut should not
be placed in a field known to have severe weed problems.
Gordon Prine argues that the peanut will not be able to
outcompete nutgrass and crabgrass.
The LOARC observations of Arbrook indicate that it may
spread faster, than Florigraze. It therefore may have an
advantage in establishing itself over Florigraze, especially
when weeds may be a problem. More research on these varieties
is needed. Similarly, more research is needed on planting
technique. The broadcast and disking method would be
preferable to using a sprig planter for economic purposes,
since farmers do not own spring planters. Broadcasting and
disking may act to cut up and distribute rhizomes, which
therefore establish better the first year.
For further discussion, see the following Research Foci:
weed control, intercropping, and overall discussion.
1984 Planned Research
Two questions about planting method were raised by the
previous research: what is the best planting technique, given
that good land preparation is needed; which variety is better
The following on farm research is being carried out in
Sprig planter versus broadcast and disk planting methods
are being examined. On 2 farms, Florigraze perennial peanut
was planted at 80 bu/acre-using both methods. On another
farm, both methods are being tested but additionally, there
are 3 levels of seeding: 40, 80 and 120 bu/acre. On one farm,
Arbrook and Florigraze varieties have been planted.
Fertilization was at 30#/acre K20 and 33#/acre N.
On station, peanut at 80 bu/acre has been seeded into
bahia sod using the sprig planter. This is to examine whether
farmers would be able to enhance their pasturage by
overseeding it with this legume.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Weed Control
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, ALTERNATIVE FORAGE
--find an effective means of ridding bermuda
grass in an established peanut stand (1982)
(NOTE: in order to transfer peanut material into new
fields it is necessary to rid it of foreign material such as
--find an effective means of controlling grasses
and broadleaves in first year plantings of
1982. An established perennial peanut stand-at LOARC was
severely infested with bermuda. A test of various herbicides
was conducted examining rates of application, day versus night
applications, and seasonal time of application (fall,
fall-spring and spring).
1983. An on farm trial was conducted testing 1) grass
control methods and 2) broadleaf control methods on a newly
established peanut field. Mechanical (mowing) and chemical
Treatments were examined. The chemical, treatments examined
variations in rates of application,, and preplant versus
postplant application times..
1982. Table G-3 examines the percentages of bermuda
control and related damage to the peanut for all herbicides
for seasonal time of application.
TABLE G-3 Effects of Seasonal Application of Herbicides
on Grass and Peanut in Established Field.
% bermuda control % peanut damage
fall 8.8 17.4
fall/sprg 41.6 26.4
spring 46.6 21.0
There was no significant difference between day and night
applications for any of the herbicides.
Table G-4 examines results of selected herbicides when
applied in spring on bermuda and peanut. Spring applications
significantly outperformed fall applications on grass control,
and damage to the peanuts was less than 4% more than that
measured for fall applications. The herbicides listed in the
table include those having the most effective grass control
and those having the least damaging effect on the peanuts. No
one herbicide offers good grass control and little harm to the
Table G-4 Effects of selected spring applied herbicides
on Grass and Peanut in Established Field.
% bermuda control
% peanut damage
1983. Two separate experiments were conducted. Selected
results of the grass control experiment are found in Table
G-5. Mowing was not included in this experiment as it would
not eliminate the grass, whereas herbicides do.
Table G-5 Effects of Selected Herbicides on Grass
and Peanuts in Newly Established Field.
(a) values: 1= least coverage; 10= total coverage for both
weeds and peanuts
ppi= preplant incorporated; ep=preplant; lp=postplant
Selected results of the broadleaf experiment are found in
Table G-6 Effects of Selected Herbicides on Broadleaf Weeds
and Peanuts in Newly Established Fields.
Data from 1982 indicate that no single herbicide offers
effective grass elimination without damaging the perennial
peanut. Dowpon-M provided the best grass control but severely
damaged the peanuts, while Poast and Fusilade did not harm the
peanuts much but also did not significantly eliminate grass.
The advantage of applying Dowpon-M is economic: it runs about
$7.00/acre as compared to a $54.00/acre cost for Poast.
One conclusion offered by these first year data is that
it would be more advantageous to develop and care for a clean
peanut field from the start for transplanLing purposes. Grass
in the peanut does not matter when it is solely used for
forage, and especially for grazing. Contamination will reduce
overall hay quality, however. Prine et. al. (1981) recommend
that perennial peanut used as hay should make up at least 75%
of the composition of the harvested hay pasture in oraer to
achieve desired protein quality. Once grass gets into a field
however, it is hard to eradicate. These results suggested
that the team focus attention on how to best establish a clean
peanut field. The data suggested a need to further
investigate planting techniques, various types of mechanical
and/or chemical weed control, and timing of control measures.
The 1983 data provide some indications as to how a clean field
might be established.
The results from the grass herbicide trials from 1983
indicate that while fusilade destroyed more grass, it probably
hurt the newly established peanut more than did Balan.
Results are inconclusive, however, as no- significant
, differences were measured. Prine still recommends Treflan
incorporated some days before planting in addition to good
land plowing. Observations from farmer fields in 1983
indicate that a preplant Treflan incorporation in conjunction
with bottom plowing and disking achieves the best land
preparation for. establishing perennial.peanuts, but only in
fields where weed problems were not severe before planting.
The use of the broad spectrum herbicide, Roundup, also showed
promising signs of eliminating weeds when applied in the fall
when the land is beit, prepared.
The most effective broadleaf control was obtained with a
Dynap-Lasso ep, Dynap ip application.
In sum, the peanut achieved a better coverage when
competing against broadleaf weeds than when it was competing
against grass. Again, this emphasizes the need to rid fields
of grass before planting the peanut.
For further discussion, see the following Research Foci:
intercropping (corn), also overall discussion.
1984 Planned Research
Cultural practices for weed control again are being
tested this year, along with an additional practice--that of
putting a cover crop into newly established peanut which
theoretically will outcompete weeds and could be grazed as
On farm chemical treatments are being conducted on one
year stands. Tests involve the use of broadleaf herbicides,
grass herbicides, and unlike 1983, mixes of grass and
broadleaf herbicides. Those chemicals which were most
effective on controlling weeds are being employed along with a
number of new combinations. (See Figure G-l.) Weed control
measurements will be as in previous years.
Figure G-l. Herbicide Combinations Being Tested On
Farm, Perennial Peanut, 1984.
GRASS Treatment rate #/acre
Treflan 2 wk ppi .75
Treflan 1 dy "
Balan 2 wk 2.26
1 dy 1.13
Prowl EP .75
Fusilade LP: .25(a)
BROADLEAB treats. .. .: .
+Bladex. G EP
" +Dyanap LP
, +Dimosseb LP
S +Blazer LP
ster rope wick
(a) All treatments received Dyanap or 2,4-DB LP for broadleaf
(b) All treatments received Treflan 2 wk ppi .75 + Fusilade
.25 as needed for grass control.
An on station trial involves overseeding wheat into newly
established peanut. Seed-ing rate was 3 bu/acre and occurred
during early February, shortly after the peanut was planted.
A standard grain drill was used. The wheat will not head out
but will be cut as if being used for 'orage. Unseeded peanut
plots will serve as control plots. Weed and peanut coverage
measurements will be made.
The hypothesized advantages of this cover crop system
are: it is inexpensive; it provides a forage the first year;
grazing of the wheat may also serve to help eliminate emerging
weeds; grazing should not hurt the emerging peanut if managed.
It is expected that results Crom this trial will refine future
research utilizing cover crops in newly established peanut.
The following research involves potential intercrop
systems into perennial peanut sod. The advantages of such
systems include weed control, reduced land preparation, more
economical year-round use of land (summer pasture, winter
grains/forage),and soil build-up and erosion control.
RESEARCH FOCUS: Summer Corn Intercropping-Newly Established
PROBLEMS ADDRESSED: MANAGEMENT, CAPITAL
--to determine the effect on overseeding corn into
newly established perennial peanut in terms of
peanut disturbance and reduction of weeds
In 1982, corn (of a variety commonly grown for feed
purposes) was overseeded into sections of newly established
perennial peanut stands using a modified subsoiler/reduced
tillage rig. The corn was planted inbetween rows where the
peanut had been seeded. These trials were done on farm.
Observations of the corn's performance and yield data were
taken. Observations of the effect on the peanut were made the
following fall and spring.
The corn, without exception, severely disturbed the
peanut. It appeared to have little effect on reducing weeds
by shading. In most fields where the corn was planted, little
or no peanuts were observe the following year.