Volume 3, No. 2 News from the Southern Region SARE/ACE Program Spring 1996
Successful farmers show and tell
What are the best ways to
effectively train Extension
agents and other agriculture
professionals in the concepts
and principles of sustainable
agriculture? Participants in a
survey administered at the
1996 Southern Region Sustain-
able Agriculture Consortium
Workshop in Kentucky said:
S Move out of the
classroom and into the
lb Use a workshop for-
Involve farmers as
Perceived as the least ef-
fective training methods were:
Speakers and con-
'Tihe idea was unconventional in
every way. Traditional agricultural
advisors toured farms to learn success-
ful agricultural techniques from very
unconventionalfarmers. The tours
were part of an innovative Profes-
sional Development Project coordi-
nated by Jim Palmer of Clemson and
Sam Bass of South Carolina State
"Farmers being involved as primary
teachers is a major breakthrough,"
says Jim Palmer. "We've traditionally
used them in field days and such to
emphasize land-grant recommenda-
tions, but I've never seen them utilized
as they have been by the sustainable
agriculture movement. Their knowl-
edge is an incredible resource that has
often been overlooked."
In the Piedmont area near Rock
Hill, 52 people toured an antibiotic-
and hormone-free beef operation,
organic herb farm, conventional u-pick
strawberry operation, a conventional
dairy farm with some unique ideas
about waste management and energy
conservation and a community
supported agriculture operation.
The Pee Dee-area tour near
Florence, with 57 attending, featured a
worm/compost farm, organic tobacco
and soybean farm, a colored cotton
operation, a conventional vegetable
production and canning operation and
a conventional row-crop farm using
extensive IPM practices.
The tours were just the beginning,
says Sam Bass.
"Farmers often acquire knowledge
not found in the laboratory or field test
plots, giving more meaning to the
phrase 'experience is the best teacher,'
he says. "We must do more to identify
the successful farmers and involve
them in our curricula, as well as
compensate them for their time and
In addition to the farm tours,
classroom-style presentations were
delivered on topics such as organic
Request complete copies of
the survey results from Com-
Ph: (770) 412-4786
Fax: (770) 412-4789
Mike James' demonstration of composting worms that detoxify
heavy metals in industrial waste was rated a top learning
experience. James, who sells both the high-value compost and the
worms, has tapped an international market. Photo by Jim Palmer.
^jnjoil 11 jj^i
Pag 2 omnGrudSriw19
Common Ground s published
quarterly by the Southern Region
Sustainable Agriculture Research
and Education Program (SARE)
and Agriculture In Concert with
the Environment (ACE). SARE/
ACE funds projects that develop
environmentally sound, eco-
nomically viable and socially
acceptable agricultural meth-
ods. SARE Is funded by USDA and
ACE Is a joint effort of USDA / EPA.
The Southern Region SARE/
ACE Program Is administered by
the University of Georgia and Fort
Valley State College. The South-
em Region includes Alabama,
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ken-
tucky, Louisiana, Mississippi,
North Carolina, Oklahoma, South
Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vir-
ginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S.V.I.
Editorial Board 1996
Head, Ext. Communications
Ft. Valley State College, GA.
Ext. Spec./Ag. and Env. Law
Prog. Manager, ATTRA/farmer
Assoc. Dean for Research
North Georgia News Editor,
University of Arkansas
Mall letters and comments to
Gwen Roland, editor
This document was prepared with the sup-
port of USDA Agreement No. 93-COOP-1-
8885. Opinions, findings, conclusions or rec-
ommendations expressed herein do not nec-
essarlly reflect the views of the USDA. The
USDA prohibits discrimination In Its programs
on the basis of race, color, national origin,
sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs
and marital or familial status.
From Farm Bill to farm fields
Shen the 1990 Farm Bill established the SARE program, it mandated that
all agricultural Extension agents be trained in sustainable agriculture by
the end of 1995. The legislation authorized $20 million per year to support that
training, but no funds were appropriated until 1994, a delay that made the 1995 goal
unrealistic. On the other hand, the research component of SARE was funded imme-
diately and in six years has achieved an enviable level of sophistication in both
program development and research design.
While it is unfortunate that agricultural professionals have had to operate without
federally supported training in this vital area, the delay has allowed researchers to
develop a body of knowledge about sustainable agriculture that did not exist six
years ago. Since most SARE projects are funded for three years, you could say we
now have two generations of results from which to develop training materials.
With the appropriation of the training funds in 1994, the Southern Region Admin-
istrative Council held a competitive search for a management team and awarded a
contract to a consortium of three institutions represented by Roger Crickenberger of
North Carolina State University, John O'Sullivan of North Carolina A & T Univer-
sity and Jim Lukens of ATTRA/NCAT. This team is directed by a 12-member execu-
tive leadership committee, which is broadly representative of sustainable agricul-
tural interests in the South. The committee reflects the SARE philosophy of partner-
ships that include 1890 and 1862 landgrant universities, farmers, NGOs and the
Natural Resource Conservation Service.
A multi-level funding approach supports regional, multi-state and state training
activities coordinated by the management team. Additional funding goes directly to
the Extension service in each state and territory to develop and implement training
through the 1862 and 1890 land-grant universities.
As the training component has taken shape, the name has changed to reflect an
identity separate from SARE's research program. Originally it was called Chapter
Three because of its placement in the 1990 Farm Bill documentation, which is like
being called Page Forty Four because of where your name appears in the phone
book. Briefly it was informally called the Extension Training Program, which added
an air of exclusivity at odds with the rest of SARE philosophy. The now official title,
Professional Development Program, conveys the purpose of the program and also
recognizes the importance of training for NRCS staff, consultants and other infor-
mation providers who are not employed by USDA Cooperative Extension Service.
The name change also reflects the dynamics of any new program whose success is
vital to many different people. They all want it to succeed, but nobody is totally
satisfied with it, meaning there is a healthy tension that stimulates improvements.
The stories in this issue of Common Ground highlight the achievements of the
first round of training grants awarded in the Southern Region. These summaries may
help you locate information you did not know existed. Take advantage of the con-
tacts and additional information offered with each project summary.
Southern Region SARE
Professional Development Program
Spring 1996 Common Ground page 3
is an active verb
interactive is an understatement
when describing the Southern
Regional Training Workshop: Evaluat-
ing Sustainability. Mickie Swisher and
Anne Bockarie coordinated the project,
which was a collaborative effort of six
institutions: the University of Florida,
the University of Arkansas at Pine
Bluff, Auburn University, Clemson
University, the University of Kentucky
and South Carolina State University.
At the two-and-a-half day workshop
conducted simultaneously at four
institutions, people from diverse walks
of life came together to agree, disagree,
watch videos, perform classroom
exercises, read, debate issues in small
and large groups, sketch field maps,
count water critters and more.
The mix of activities was designed
to accommodate the many different
learning styles of adults and to help
participants close the learning cycle by
moving from affective learning to
discussion of abstract concepts and,
ultimately, to on-the-job applications.
The interactive discussion sessions
were transmitted by satellite from the
University of Florida to the University
of Kentucky, South Carolina State
certification and sustainable ag strategic
planning. Farmer panels presented
additional firsthand sustainable farm
experiences to the audience during the
How did the teachers take to being
taught? Very positively, according to
the detailed evaluation forms they
submitted after the programs. In fact
increased farmer involvement was the
top-ranked recommendation for future
That's no wonder, according to Bass.
"The actual results of applied
research is the bottom line for Exten-
sion workers as well as for farmers," he
notes. "Results obtained under actual
University, Clemson and the Univer-
sity of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. At all
four training sites, local trainers led
participants through field exercises in
which two or more sets of comparable
farming systems were studied, such as
an organically and a conventionally
managed vegetable farm or a small
and large swine operation.
They conducted five different kinds
of field exercises: biodiversity, energy
analysis, economic analysis, land use
capability and water quality. After
completing the five analyses, the
participants had fairly complete case
studies of two comparable farming
systems. They used the case studies in
field and economic conditions are more
palatable than controlled research
In ranking the individual compo-
nents of the sessions, the participants
chose the farmer panel as second only
to Mike James' demonstration of
earthworms transforming industrial
waste into high-value compost,
detoxifying heavy metals in the process
(understandably a hard act to follow).
Thanks to those enthusiastic
evaluations, agricultural advisors who
missed the two sessions will have future
opportunities to participate. The
evaluations and pretest results are being
used to refine South Carolina's strategic
part of a
o Photo by
closure discussions to illustrate
principles of sustainability and to help
them decide which of the tools will be
most useful in their work situations.
Educational videos made for the
classroom sessions, along with copies
of the training manuals, are available
to other agencies.
The next use of the materials will
be a graduate level course delivered
via the Internet and World Wide Web
to secondary teachers and ag profes-
sionals at six institutions this fall. For
more information call Mickie Swisher
or Anne Bockarie at the University of
Florida, Home Economics Depart-
ment, (352) 392-1869.
plan for sustainable agricultural
training. The 1990 Farm Bill man-
dated that each state must develop and
implement such a plan.
"This project was being completed
just as we were designing South
Carolina's strategic plan, so much of it
spilled over." says Palmer. "Both the
on-farm and classroom sessions will
be included, along with what we
learned through the protests and
The pretest and evaluation materials
are available for others designing their
own training programs.
For more information request the
annual report for Project LST94-6.
Computing sustainable dairy systems
Just toting around the Sustain-
able Dairy Systems Training
Manual will take some training-
weight training. The tenth draft, which
has expanded from five chapters in the
original proposal to twelve chapters,
now weighs about eight pounds. No
one yet knows the approximate weigh-
in of the completed version scheduled
for release in autumn 1996, but there is
good reason for the heftiness. The
manual supports a user-friendly
computer program that will allow an
Extension agent or producer to design
dairy systems with the click of a
Clark Garland of the University of
Tennessee Agricultural Extension
Service and Steve Isaacs of the
University of Kentucky are coordinat-
ing the landmark interdisciplinary,
multi-state training program. A model
of cooperation, the project utilized 25
trainers and more than 100 farmers,
Extension agents and other agricultural.
leaders to produce the ultimate guide
to developing customized sustainable
Using a computer in the agent's
office or a laptop at the producer's
kitchen table, the agent and farmer can
answer questions about the current
dairy operation and the desired
changes. The program will automati-
cally configure the economic and other
data in the new system as it is being
designed. In fact, the software is so
sophisticated that if a change is later
made in something, such as the
number of stalls in a barn, it will
recalculate the entire system. Topics
include forage systems, milking
centers, farmstead planning, financial
management, labor recommendations,
feeding, manure management and
The material for both the software
and the manual is being developed and
refined during actual pilot teaching
sessions. To date, the cooperators have
introduced the manual and software to
450 dairy farm families. They also are
developing intensive farm management
plans and financial plans with at least
110 farm families in Kentucky and
Lee : I of we
who owns a w born. If
cow dairy and also raises
, .- . and - .. on..
res, is shown at a
sion Area "
erd to a w herd,"
T sze of your barn,
Joe Mckenzie, Extension Leader for
Rutherford County, TN, was dubious
about giving up three days of work to
attend one of the sessions.
"After 26 years in the business, I
don't get excited about much any-
more," he recalls. "But that three-day
training is the best compilation of
materials I have seen in a long time. It
will be useful for younger agents who
don't have a large bank of experiences
to draw upon. It will also be useful for
evaluating manure management and
grazing management systems.
would ... '- .': '
; ,; b <
S need to make a
S' ave to base it or
nbiased advice, not advice
rom a salesman," he
what an '
South how to get
out of it for least
"In my career, this is the first time I
recall a joint effort of this magnitude
between two states. I really appreci-
ated it, and I heard other agents saying
the same thing."
When completed, one copy of the
software and the manual will be sent
to each dairy county in Tennessee and
Kentucky and to 1890 and 1862 land-
grant universities in the Southern
For more information request the
report on Project LST94-4.
t. rarlgelarn mn, ,gemenT sk ls
1 \ [hen new Extension agents in
Texas are bombarded with
questions about stocking rates and
forage monitoring, they find out how
little they know about a subject area
crucial to their clients. Rangeland
management is not covered in animal
science or agricultural education
curricula. That educational shortage is
becoming even more crucial now that
ranchers are looking to reduce variable
costs such as chemical applications for
woody plant control.
J. F. Cadenhead and Richard
Teague of the Texas A&M Research
and Extension Center in Vernon
designed a crash course in rangeland
management to address that knowl-
edge gap. The course consisted of
three workshops held on working
lan DeRamus of the Univer
sity of Southwestern Louisi-
ana began with a survey of what
would-be graziers wanted to learn
when he designed a management
intensive grazing training program.
Producers and agricultural advisors
from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkan-
sas, Texas, Georgia, Alabama and
Kentucky ranked the following as the
major constraints against establishing
intensive grazing management.
1. Personal management expertise
of livestock and forages
2. Fencing systems
3. Operating capital
4. Soil fertility
5. Water availability
6. Livestock working facilities
The training team of grazing
experts from Louisiana, Oklahoma
and Iowa, produced a three-day
program to address such con-
straints in both classroom and field
sessions. The program was
conducted four times in 1995, with
new sessions scheduled for May
and September 1996.
ranches in July and October 1995
and March 1996. The time between
sessions allowed agents to put their
new knowledge into practice and
bring questions back to the next
session. The ranch locations
allowed practical outdoor exercises
such as range plant identification
and monitoring of the forage
supply and demand.
Topics included not only plant
identification and rangeland
monitoring but also stocking rate
decisions, noxious plant management,
prescribed burning, wildlife manage-
ment and legal/ethical considerations
for rangeland graziers.
A compilation of materials related
to rangeland management is being
published as the Texas Range Man-
Each participant receives a
notebook containing the follow-
ing fact sheets:
*The role of ruminant animals in
*The forage growth and its relation
ship to grazing management
*Understanding soils and land
*Estimating forage yield
*Grazing dynamics of beef cattle
*Proper grazing use
*Fringe benefits of rotational
Participants fired up the range
during prescribed burning sessions
agement Handbook. For information
about the handbook or for more
information about Project LST94-2
contact Common Ground.
*Economics of management
To register for the May or Septem-
ber workshops contact Alan DeRamus
at the University of Southwestern
Louisiana, (318) 231-6642. Request
fact sheets for Project LST94-3 from
Common Ground editor.
farm at the
by Emily King of
--- --~-----sI I-
Page 6 Common Ground Spring 1996
Research and Education Program
Controlling Cheat and Annual Ryegrass in Small
Grains Using Novel Crop Harvesting Technologies,
Oklahoma State University, $208,624.
Soil Conservation and Pest Management Impacts of
Grass Hedges, USDA-ARS National Sedimentation
Lab., Mississippi, $137,352.
Improving Integrated Resource Management Skills
ofBeefProducers, Oklahoma State University,
Sustainable Crop Management Systems for Improv-
ing Production of Culinary Herbs in the Virgin
Islands, University of the Virgin Islands, $143,529.
Integrating Pastured Poultry Production into the
Farming Systems of Limited Resource Farmers,
Heifer Project International, Arkansas, $149,624.
Developing Sustainable Cropping Systems for
Seedless Watermelon and Fall Lettuce Grown in
Rotation with Green Manures, NCA&T, $182,751.
Saving the Southern Legacy: Heirloom Plants and
Local Knowledge for Profitable, Sustainable
Agriculture, University of Georgia, $152,817.
Multi-Cropping Cattle and Watermelon in the
Southern Plains, Oklahoma State University,
Implementation ofAlternative Agriculture Strategies
for Rural Community Sustainable Development, The
Nature Conservancy, $228,517.
Producer Grant Program
Sustainable Cultivation ofMedicinal Herbs as an
Alternative to Tobacco as a Cash Crop, Tennessee, $5,004.
Identification of Cover Crops to Enhance the Habitat of
Specific Beneficial Insects in Sustainable Production
Systems, North Carolina, $9,462.
Alternatives to Chemicals in Peanut-Cotton Rotation, North
Multiple On-Farm use ofAquatic Plants and Animals,
North Carolina, $9,575.
Native Warm-Season Grasses as Hay Source for a Goat
Dairy, Texas, $9,638.
Technical Assistance for Meat Goat Marketing, Kentucky,
Grazing Alternatives to Tall Fescue for Stocker Cattle,
Grasslands Matua and Grasslands Gala in the Tennessee
Valley as Grazing Alternatives to Fescue and Ryegrass,
Converting Poultry and Hog Housing into Aquaculture
Facilities Emphasizing Recycled On-Farm Resources,
North Carolina, $6,000.
Group Strategic Alliances for Carroll County Feeder
Calves, Kentucky, $10,000.
Low-Input Sustainable Agriculture Short Course,
Professional Development Program
Sustainable Agricultural Marketing through Collaborative Policy Development, Delta Land and
Community, Inc., $40,900.
Sustainable Small-Scale Agricultural Development Training Project, Southern University, $25,701
Southern Gathering on Agricultural Problem Solving, University of Kentucky, $52,000.
Facilitating Farmer to Farmer Networks: An Experimental Approach, University of Florida, $80,997.
Spring 1996 Common Ground page 7
guides producer grant
r. John C. Mayne has been
hired as the Southern Region
SARE Producer Grant Coordinator.
John grew up in Florida and earned
degrees at three southern universities,
the latest being a doctorate in
agroforestry from the University of
Florida. His dissertation research was
conducted in Costa Rica on nutrient
uptake in systems used by farmers
there. But it is his experience working
with limited-resource farmers in
Guatemala and his own small hog
operation near Tallahassee that gives
him rapport with farmers.
"The best thing to come out of
those experiences," says John, "is
finding out that being self-sufficient
and less dependent on outside re-
sources can help you ride out the
vagaries of nature and markets."
As Producer Grants Coordinator,
he will assist producers in everything
from accurately submitting the
proposal application to ensuring that
research designs in funded proposals
are appropriate. He will also visit
projects once they are up and running,
maintaining contact with the producer
until the research is complete and final
results are reported and disseminated
to other farmers.
In response to requests from past
applicants, John has changed the
calendar for producer proposals.
"The application will be released in
October, with January 31 as the due
date for proposals," he says. "The
autumn release and late winter due
date will allow farmers more time to
work on their proposals."
One of John's goals is to help
producers understand that research
design doesn't have to be intimidating.
"I will help on-farm researchers
make sure that the work they do will
also be applicable on other farms with
similar conditions," he says.
For more information call John
Mayne at (770) 229-3350.
SARE/ACE differs from other
competitive grant programs in
that the decision makers have first-
hand experience with agriculture
in their region.
Perhaps the most important
people in the SARE/ACE process
are the volunteers who evaluate
submissions. Each year panels of
farmers, researchers, economists,
ag scientists, extensionists,
community activists and more in-
dependently review the proposals
and score them on their contribu-
tion and relevance to sustainable
agriculture and on technical
merit. At least 100 reviewers are
needed each year to ensure that
each submission receives ad-
equate evaluation attention.
The major qualifications are:
% Knowledge of sustainable
agriculture philosophy and
% 20 hours in early Septem-
ber available for reviewing and
evaluating proposals by mail
Experience with agricultural
( acquaintance W
of major research institu-
tions such as 1862/1890 land-grant
universities, NGOs and indepen-
SFFamiliarity with agriculture's
impact on the environment
and rural communities.
To apply, submit a two-page re-
sume describing your background
and experience in sustainable
agriculture, as well as your knowl-
edge of research principles. Mail
it to Project Review Committee
c/o Common Ground by July 1.
Panels will be established to en-
sure disciplinary, geographic and
institutional balance across the
Reviewers will be notified of their
appointment by August 1.
In early September, reviewers
will be mailed 10-20 preproposals
and evaluation worksheets which
must be completed and returned
to the SARE/ACE office by early No-
June 3-5 Administrative Council meets in Tallahassee, Florida.
July Call for Research and Education preproposals is mailed as insert in
September 1 Research and Education preproposals due. Review process begins.
October Call for Producer Grant proposals is mailed as insert in
November Administrative Council meets.
November 10 Authors of top-ranked Research and Education preproposals are
notified to develop full proposals.
December 15 Research and Education full proposals are due.
January 5 Full proposals are mailed to Technical Review Committee.
January 31 Producer Grant proposals are due.
March 15 Technical Review Committee meets to review full proposals.
April 1997 Administrative Council meets to award all grants
For information about the Professional Devlopment Program calendar call Roger
Crickenberger at (919) 515-3252.
Make your mark
One hundred years of results
"In 1896 they didn't call it sustainable agriculture, they
just called it staying in business," says Charles Mitchell,
Extension agronomist at Auburn's Old Rotation, the world's
oldest continuous cotton experiment.
"This experiment does exactly what sustainable ag
proponents are saying today,
that outstanding crops can be
grown year after year using only
legume nitrogen," he continues.
As part of the centennial 896 '-."
celebration, Extension agents :. '.
and farmers demonstrated Old
Rotation's principles in com-
mercial cotton fields. Mitchell
organized the SARE-funded
demonstration that allowed
comparisons between standard and new varieties of winter
legumes on seven Alabama cotton farms. Road signs on
field borders allowed regular commuters to keep tabs on the
progress of the farm trials.
Although 1995, with its record drought, hurricanes and
boll worm infestation, was a terrible cotton year for
Alabama, the demonstrations supported what Old Rotation
has been proving for 100 cotton seasons-that winter
legumes alone are as effective as fertilizer N in producing
optimum cotton yields. Additionally the legume protects the
soil from winter erosion, increases soil organic matter and
contributes to long-term sustainability of continuous cotton
Other results indicate that the old standby hairy vetch
provided the most nitrogen per acre (124 lbs.) as compared
to the new A.U. Robin (75 lbs.). However, the A.U. Robin
matures about two weeks earlier
than the hairy vetch, making it fit
-- -- better into the farmers' cropping
programs. It was also determined
that vetch is a host for reniform
S:.nematodes and should not be used
in fields where reniform nematode
uburn populations are found.
The project culminated in the
Conservation Tillage Cotton
Production Guide which is
available from any Alabama Cooperative Extension office as
The Old Rotation Centennial Celebration on October 4
- -wulibe held on the Auburn campus. A full day of entertain-
ment arid'ductationalactivities are planned to help agricul-
tural advisors, farmers and consumers understand the
significance of Old Rotation's 100 years of continuous
cotton production. Miniature cotton bales made from the
centennial crop will be available at the celebration.
For more information request report for Project LST94-5.
UH U i . i -!. '4 :
Address Correction Requested
Southern Region SARE/ACE
1109 Experiment Street
Room 203, Stuckey Building
Griffin, GA 30223-1797
University of Florida
PO Box 10240
Gainesville, FL 32611
SPrinted on recycled paper