FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH/EXTENSION
BRADFORD COUNTY SONDEO
Performed: March 20, 23, & 27, 1982
Submitted: April 2, 1982
by: Doris Arteaga
Under the Direction of: George Clough
This report is based on a rapid survey of Bradford County,
Florida in March 1982. Research was conducted as a training
exercise for the Farming Systems Methodology class (AGG5813).
The purposes of the study were several:
1. to identify the major homogeneous farming systems
in the county,
2. to suggest some of the important constraints that
farmers are facing,
3. to recommend changes that could increase total produc-
tion and improve farmers' living standards.
Bradford County lies in the heart of North Central Florida
It is surrounded on the east by Clay County; by Alachua and Putnam
Counties to the south; by Union County on the west, and by Baker
County on the north. The county resembles a rough triangle. It
includes a total of 301 square miles (189,000 acres) and is 40
miles across at the widest point (Figure ).
The land is typically flat with some small hills near the
New and Santa Fe Rivers which comprise the county's western and
southern boundaries. There is a range of elevation from 115 to
175 feet above sea level.
The mean temperature is 69.9 F with an average temperature
of 80 F in the summer and 56 in the winter months. The growing
season is 275 days. An average of 48.9 inches of rain a year
falls on Bradford County's light sandy soils and the area of dark
organic soils where most of its truck crops are grown.
Bradford County began as part of New River County in 1858.
In 1861, Bradford and Union Counties split off to form one county,
Bradford, named in honor of Captain Richard Bradford, first
Florida officer killed in the war between the states. In 1921,
Bradford was split again, to form the present counties of Bradford
Starke, the county seat and largest city, was established
before 1857 and named for either Madison Starke Perry, Governor
of Florida from 1857-1861, or for Thomas Starke of South Carolina,
who bought land around DeLeon Springs in Volusia County in 1975.
The town is located on the crossroads of US 301 and State Roads
100 and 16. It is 42 miles southwest of Jacksonville and 26 miles
northeast of Gainesville.
Lawtey, was settled in 1877 by a group of people from
Chicago and was named for William Lawtey, the group's leader's
son-in-law. Captain Surrin donated 200 acres for the town on
the condition that money made from the sale of lots should be
used for churches and schools. Lawtey is 7 miles north of Starke
on US 301 and State Roads 200 and 225.(
The incorporated community of Brooker was founded in 1892.
It's early history was importantly tied to the extension of the
railroad system. Brooker is on State Roads 18 and 325 in the
western part of the county about 16 miles from Starke. Brooker
was a center of tung production up until government support pro-
grams ended and the tung press closed in 1970.
Another such community, Hampton, grew up around the rail-
road tracks near a farm owned by a family named Terry and was
named for Terry's 10 year old son, Hampton. Hampton is located
on State Rodds 18 and 325, east of Brooker and seven miles soutth
In 1980, the total population of the county was 20,023
persons. About 26.5% of the inhabitants lived in the urban area
of Starke and 7.9% in the municipalities of Lawtey, Hampton,
and Brooker. The remaining 65.5 % were scattered on the farms
and other rural settlements in the county (Table 1 and 2).
In 1975, Bradford County had a population density of 55.3
persons per square mile. The county was ranked second in North
Central Florida in terms of population density and fourth in
terms of total population size.
ATLAS OF FLORIDA 1980
SOCIAL INFORMATION 1980
65 YEARS OLD AND MORE 9.8%
BIRTH RATE 16.1%
DEATH RATE 7.8%
% OF MOBILE HOMES 18.1%
PER CAPITAL INCOME $ 4,905
POULTRY 90% INCOME VEGGIES HAY + FIELD CROPS
About 70%'.of the land in Bradford County is woodland.
Most of this land is owned or leased by pulp companies such as
Consolidated Can Corporation (Concora) and ITT Rayoner. Of the
remaining land, about 4% is considered urban and 26% is in crop-
land or pasture. The majority of the soil is typified by a
fine sand or loamy sand topsoil and a weakly cemented sandy sub-
soil. Native fertility and organic matter levels are low and the
topsoils tend to be naturally acidic. A more detailed summary of
the soil types and their suitability for agricultural use is
Most of the agriculturalland is divided into homesteads
that range from ten to two hundred acres. The 1978 Farm Census
Survey indicates that 5 % of the farms are less than 50 acres,
38% between 179 acres and less than 14% over 180 acres in size.
Most farmers are second or third generation residents who
have inherited the bulk of their land. Clusters of single family
homes can be found along the main roads. Many of these families
are descendants of settlers who moved into the area to work on
the railroads in the late 1880s.
There is little evidence to suggest that farm size is
either increasing or decreasing. Given the high cost of land
($1,000-2,000) per acre, most farmers stated that it was better
to rent additional land if more land was required. Depending on
the quality of land, rents in Bradford Coutny ranged from $20 to $60 per
By far the greatest portion of the Bradford County farmers 'work out'
i.e., have cash-paying jobs in one of the nearby towns or cities. Major em-
ployers include the State Prison, DuPont and Fort Blanding. These part-time
farmers are restricted to farming on their days off, weekends and evenings.
Whether full-time or part-time, the immediate family provides most of the
farm labor. The large number of household heads who work off the farm, has
increased the importance of farm labor by farm wives and children. This is
particularly the case in the commercial chicken operations.
Most of the truck farmers rely on migrant help during peak labor periods
of planting and harvesting times. In most cases, these workers are paid min-
imum wage, though occasionally a piece-work wage scale was established.
Many farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with the reliability of migrant
workers. In some instances, growers were trying to get around hired labor by
operating U-pick-it operations. On the poultry breeder farms, very little
labor is required while on the egg-laying operations, one or two hired laborers
were needed to gather eggs.
Credit for operating expenses or small equipment purchases was available
through several local lending institutions, including
the Community State Bank in Starke or the Production Credit
ASsociation APCA). Loans of this type were generally one-year
notes and carried an interest rate of 17-18% at the bank to
14-15% at the PCA. The agricultural loan officer at the
Community State Bank said that they were currently letting
principle payments slide if the farmers made interest payments
on time. Approximately 10% of the total loans from the bank
were agricultural loans, none of these being land mortgages.
Farm Home Administration loans for land, buildings and machinery
were available but difficult to obtain. At the going rate of
14.5%, a farmer often has to wait one to two years to obtain
a FmHA loan.
The difficulty of obtaining any type of
loans depends primarily on the financial history of the applie-
cant rather than the type of operation the loan money is to be
used for. Collateral is generally not a problem, as many farmers
typically hold title to or have small mortgages on their land.
Most growers, however, are very reluctant to borrow any
money for operating expenses and prefer to farm "out-of-pocket"
by financing agricultural inputs with money from off-farm jobs.
As there was little evidence to suggest that farmers would risk
borrowing money to increase agricultural inputs, the availability
or cost of loans did not seem to be a constraining factor: in
Bradford County Soil Map Legend
Soil Potential for Agriculture
Woodland Cropland Pasture
The soils of Bradford County can be generally described
as being nearly level and moderately well drained, except in
the flooding region north of Lawtey. The topsoils are very sandy
and have a low native fertility. Liming is necessary for crop-
land and improved pastures. The subsoils are loamy sands or
sandy loams and frequently have a wealthy cemented subsoil layer.
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Farming Systems of Bradford County
Three of the most important farming systems are:
Cattle production is the most common system in Bradford
County. The size of the cattle farms range from a
few acres to hundredsof acres. The majority of cattle
farmers have small operations and are employed full-
time off the farm.
(2) Poultry and Cattle
Poultry production is by far the most important source
of farm income in the county, given its large scale
and commercial contracts. Labor inputs are small
and allow for a small traditional cattle operation
on the side.
Vegetable farming is also very common in Bradford
County. The size of the vegetable farm can be
either small or very large. The majority of vegetable
farmers, however, have snauli operations and are employed
off the farm full-time.
Cattle Based Farming System
Cattle operations have been identified according to the
type of enterprises carried out on the farm and by size of herd
or scale of operation. The major classifications are: (1)
cow-calf herds, (2) beef cattle, and (3) raising dairy calves.
Many farms have small herds of less than 20 animals as might be
expected, considering the predominant role of low acreage
farms. Because of the small size of most of the farming
operations, many families that maintain small cow-calf herds
must either work off-farm or combine cattle with poultry or
vegetable production. An increasing amount of land owned or
leased has been paralleled by increased sizes of cow-calf herds
to between 20-180 head per operator. Calves are generally sold
to local cattlemen through live stock markets or they are pur-
chased to be shipped west to be fattened on feedlots. These
cow-calf operators also grow row crops on their farms; many of
them have cut back on corn and soybean production.
Since costs are climbing and prices are down, beef cattle
were a second type of cattle operation which has various elements
of the cow-calf operation. Between 25 and 35% of the herd
must be kept as breeding stock or as the "home herd." These
cattlemen try to buy thin and sell fat. The profit is found in
the difference between the weight gained and the cost of the
feed or pasture that was consumed to fatten the cattle up to
S Finally, it was discovered that some farms were raising
dairy calves on the bottle for a period of six months, then
they were sold to dairies to the east of Bradford County or
southwest near Tampa. These calves are bought for around $100
and fed on another $100; total costs are estimated at about
$200. The calves sell for $300, giving $100 as return to
management, land and labor. Usually, the intensive labor
requirements of bottle feeding tended to contain these operations
to between 30 to 65 pure bred holstein dairy calves' On several
occasions, the team observed laying hen houses or broiler opera-
tions occurring simultaneously with the smaller scale dairycalf
enterprises. However, some farmers were unhappy with the amount
they received for their produce and complain about having to
"pay union wages" for other production costs such as machinery,
equipment, and transportation. Many of these farmers were not
too sure of how long they would continue operating at a loss.
The team encountered large-scale beef cattlemen. who were
making a profit from the hay sales. All cattle-based systems
need hay to different extents, depending upon type and size
of the herd and land utilized for pastures. When the hetd size
drops below the carrying capacity of that land, the hay, usually
Coastal Bermuda, will continue to yield revenue throughout the
year. The hay operations increase labor requirements during
the summer months, since most farmers try to get three to five
cuttings. Weather and moisture are problems facing these farmers
as they must wait for the dew to dry before they can begin their
"hay day." Also, if a rain storm wets the hay, the farmer has
to wait several days until it has dried enough to make good hay
for market. If the hay is baled or rolled when it is wet,
the. quality is A-ovre) While hay in this condition cannot be
sold to dairy farms, a farmer can conserve the hay for domestic
The labor requirements of large-scale hay production have
shifted from small square bales, to large round to square bales,
and most recently, to smaller round bales which can be tightly
compressed to sizes of 4-feet wide by 5-feet high. Up to 15,000
pounds of pressure can be put on the belts that roll the hay,
and this creates weather proof packaging of market quality hay.
These 4-foot wide rolls will fit two wide and two high when
"nested" on a gooseneck flatbed trailer. The hauling charges
are diminished enough to pay for the transport to dairy farms.
Dairies needed hay during the droughts of the past few years
and hay remains the cheapest source of ruffagewhich'is.required
to keep butterfat content to desired levels. Citrus pulp and/or
cotton seed hulls can be substituted for hay, but when there is
a scarcity of hay, the prices of these substitutes rises accord-
ingly. During particular periods of high demand for hay in
these distant dairy regions, some hay dealers had to buy from
distant states to meet demands of regular customers. Since some
dairies agreed to pay higher prices for the scarce hay
irrigation wals used to hurry along the hay growth.
The profits in these hay operations depend primarily on :-
keeping labor cost minimized by handling the hay as little as
possible. This means investments in automatic square bale
stackers and tilt hay-wagons, but those ranchers that must decide
on this type of investment have very little trouble acquiring
loans for machinery through traditional lending institutions.
Of farmers seeking loans, 90%, it was reported, keep very few
records other than for taxes.
The traditional means of breeding isqfreenpange .crbse-'nc).
breeding. This involves putting out bulls for a 3-month breeding
season that starts in March. Since the majority of the commercial
cows are Brahman crosses, the rancher is interested in knowing
the effects of introducing new breeds to the area or ranch. Black
angus cattle are well-established in the county and several small
ranches near Starke specialized in pure bred Angus bulls.
Famers mentioned that they/are mating first-time heifers to angus
bulls since it can ease the calving. Red Angus are kept as
a high fertility breed with good maternal ability, post-weaning
gain and high yielding carcasses, usually bigger than Black
Angus breed. The Herford, Charolais, Polled Herford and Limousin
breeds have been more recently introduced; ranchers are anxious
to see the results. The main Zebu-European derivative breeds
are the Santa Gertrudis, Beefmaster, Brangus, and the Charbray.
These cattle operations are extremely dependent upon
cycles in cattle price markets and the livestock market with
which they sell their animals. The major markets are located in
in the Gainesville livestock market, and the Colombia Live Stock
Market in Lake City., where cattle are auctioned each Thursday
and feeder pigs are sold the first Wednesday of the month.
Cattle market reports are mailed weekly to regular buyers and
A new cattle market has been established in Ellisville,
Florida, called the North Florida Cooperative Livestock Market.
Members buy shares in the operation of the market and gain .'
dividends because the volume that the rancher deals through the
co-operative affects his revenue from his membership. Non-members
are also welcome. Last week 315 animals changed hands with normal
fluctuations between 290 and 1005 of slaughter class animals
with 60% of the yearlings going to feedlots or packing houses.
A number of ranchers in the Bradford atra indicated
that they are going to give their support to the new copop.
Since 1979, most farmers have had difficulty making loan payments
on the building which costs over $200,00.
Pasture management practices involve the spreading of
poultry manure and the use of flexible-line harrows to scatter
manure-piles. Liming and fertilization programs are carried
on most farms. The major grazing pastures are Coastal Bermuda
grass, Pensacola Bahaia grass, Alicia bermuda grass and
Argentine Bahai grass. Some farmers grow rye for winter folage,
but this is an expensive operation. A few farmers
grow. white and crimson clover in their pastures, but mixed
legume grass mixtures were not common. Rye grass, fescue and
dallis grass were also seen grown as evidence of improved pastures
There are three basic types of poultry operations found
in Bradford County: Layers, broilers, and breeders. Most of
the operations are commercial contracted, family-run broiler
or egg-laying operations with a cattle operation on the side.
In this family run business, the husband typically has an outside
job or does field work; and the wife cares for the poultry
The size of the poultry farms range from 15,000 to 60,000
chickens. The poultry farms provide a steady source of income
and are the main source of income in most cattle-poultry opera-
tions. We found no poultry farmer who said he was losing money.
Furthermore, new people are entering the business when the large
poultry companies say they need increased production.
Poultry companies such as Seaboard and Paramount supply
the feed, chicks, management advice, and veterinary service to
the poultry farmer. In return, the poultry farmer is respon-
sible for taking care of the chicks, maintaining the poultry
house and equipment. The companies do not provide credit for
entry into the field to new farmers. The farmers must secure
their own credit for the poultry houses from local lending
institutions. Collateral used is either the existing farm or
outside income from an off-farm job. Broiler and breeder
operations are automated, whereas, egg-laying operations are
either auotmated or not. The contract with the company offers
the advantages of reduced management, less input costs, and a
guaranteed market at the high enough price to make a profit.
Despite these advantages, several operators pointed out that
the current prices received for their eggs and broilers were
not much higher than they were twelve years ago.
Additionally, the poultry operation complements the cattle
operations bysupplying chicken manure for the pastures.
Broilers are raised from chicks and sold at 4 to 5 pounds
when they are 49 to 52 days old. The first two weeks, the
chicks are kept in brooders at 85 to 900F. Then the chicks are
allowed to run free in the house, but not before being debeaked.
Temperature is lowered to 800 F and food and water are placed
in overhanging containers which are raised as the chickens grow.
The company, after periodically visiting the operation, returns
for the harvest around the 49th day and using a fan-like machine,
gathers the ready-for-slaughter chickens. Normally six flocks
are raised each year. Thus, the farmer has money coming in at
six different times of the year.
For a layer operation, the farmer receives chicks at 17
weeks. Eggs are laid for one year with molting induced after
the first year to stimulate egg-laying. Approximately 80% of
the birds lay an egg each day. Eggs are picked up by hand or
by a conveyor belt system. A tractor with a scoop in front of
a conveyor belt is used to remove the chicken manure. Two to
three laborers are employed to collect eggs, dead chickens,
and to keep the place clean. This labor .usually comsr from the:
family, but sometimes involves employing labor in addition to what
the family can provide. The eggs are stored at 610 F until the
companies come to pick them up, usually every other day. In
both of these operations, the main cost for the companies is
feed. For the farmer, time is the major constraint--the chickens
have to be attended to every day of the week.
Vegetable Based-Farming Systems
There are two types of vegetable-based agricultural systems
in Bradford County--the small commercial vegetable grower and
the large commercial vegetable grower. The difference between
the two vegetable systems is sometimes arbitrary, but the systems
do make two distinct recommendation domains.
A third but less important form of vegetable production in
Bradford County is the family vegetable garden. Large, well-cared
for family gradens are seen next to most homes in the rural areas.
The family provides all of the care for the garden, and consumes
all the produce. The family garden may be an important source
of food for the family,:buttit will not be discussed closely
here because none of the produce from the family garden is sold
Small Commercial Vegetable Growers
The small commercial vegetable grower often farms an area
that is not much larger than a large family garden, but the small
grower sells a good part of his produce. The small grower is
typically a man in his fifties or sixties, born and bred in
Bradford County. Usually the small grower's father had also
been a vegetable grower in Bradford County. The small vegetable
grower of today, however, usually has a full-time job off the
farm and he does not consider himself a "REAL" farmer. The
farm usually does not make money, but it is supported by the
outside income of the farmer. The small grower usually does
not borrow money to farm, and he often does not want to expand
his vegetable operations.
The small vegetable grower usually owns less than 20
unforested acres, most or all of which are in vegetables. Farms
with more than 20 unforested acres tend to emphasize cattle
production. The grower's home is often on the same parcel of
land as the farm. A few of these growers mayrrent land for
vegetable production. These small vegetable growers are more
likbky not to have cattle than any other system seen in Bradford
County, and they are rarely associated with poultry operations.
There are numerous small growers located throughout the county,
but there is a concentration of small growers in the northern
part of the county around and to the west of Lawtey.
The small growers have older, unreliable low horsepower
tractors and are short of equipment, in general. Irrigation
equipment is occasionally seen. Growers without irrigation
equipment often say that irrigation is the best way to grow
vegetables, BUT that the high cost of the equipment, high interest
rates at the bank, and the lowering of water table prevent them
from purchasing irrigation equipment.
Some of the different crops grown by the small vegetable
growers are: strawberries, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, cabbage,
onions, soybeans, sugarcane, collards, cucumbers, watermelons,
cantaloupe, yellow squash, green squash and many more. The
strawberries, bell peppers, and sweet corn are probably the
most corps grown by these farmers. Strawberries and bell peppers
are particularly high in capital, fertilizer, and management
inputs. Both crops are grown under black plastic mulch. Rarely
will these farmers plant more than one acre of strawberries
or bell peppers. Strawberries and bell peppers are planted
as setts (or transplants). The setts are set (or transplanted)
by hand on the farms of these small farmers. Strawberrie setts
are usually purchased from large growers in Plant City, Florida.
Bell pepper setts are either purchased or grown on the farm.
To some degree, strawberries replace corn in the northern-p:att
of the county. Most vegetables are traditionally grown without
the plastic mulch. Insecticide use is high and growers often
complain about the high price and low effectiveness of the
insecticides. Poultry manure is not used on vegetables, because
it is believed to cause weeds. One grower aattally had both
his poultry manure and his poultry feed checked by the University
of Flowida for weed seed, but none was found. Chemical fertil-
izer use is high and over-fertilizationiis not uncommon.
Labor inputs are mostly or at times, entirely taken care
of by the family. The grower may hire labor during planting
if he is setting strawberries, bell peppers or other transplants.
Hiring labor is more common at harvest. Temporary laborers
are often local blacks. Migrant Mexican and Puerto Rican laborers
are available during certain seasons of the year. Mexican and
Puerto Rican laborers are paid by piecework, whereas, the
local black laborers are usually paid the hourly minimum wage.
High labor costs and lack of obtainable labor at the necessary
times are often mentioned by the farmers as problems.
The small growers have nol set marketing scheme. Their
marketing method may change from one/to the next. To sell
their produce, the small vegetable grower may: sell to friends,
sell at the roadside, peddle it in Gainesville, or sell it at
markets in Jacksonville, Starke, or Gainesville. The price
of their vegetables is volatile.but usually low. Growers speak
of vegetable:'prices as being "HIT OR MISS" or "JUST LIKE
The most important constraints for the small vegetable
grower in Bradford County are: (1) lack of time to manage the
farm, (2) unorganized marketing, (3) low produce prices,
(4) rising input prices, and (5) lack of availability of tempor-
LargeCommercial Vegetable Growers
The large commercial vegetable growers are in some ways
like the small vegetable growers. Both types of growers are
usually in their fifties or sixties, born and raised in Bradford
County, and their fathers usually were vegetable growers in
the county.; Both groups are more common in the northern part
of the county, even though there are only a small number of
these large growers in Bradford County. Poultry operations
are usually not associated with either group. Poultry manure
used as a fertilizer is not used by either group.
After these similarities, the two vegetable system become
The large commercial grower:
1. workss full-time at farming
2. depends on the farm for his livelihood
3. does not like to borrow money, but usually will
4. owns several hundred acres in several different parcels
5. has over 100 acres in vegetables
6. rents land for vegetable production
7. owns large tracts of pasture but concentrates his
management effects on vegetable production
8. owns newer equipment, larger tractors, and irrigation
The large:grower tends to grow: cucumbers, strawberries, sweet
corn, yellow squash, green squash, watermelons, and many other
vegetables like his small grower counterpart. The basic pro-
duction techniques used by the large growers are the same as
those used by the small growers. the large grower, however,
manages his fields more intensively and uses more mechanization
in his field and marketing operations. The large grower also
monocrops most of his fields.
The large grower depends completely on hired labor to
do field work. The large grower employs some full-time permanent
laborers and hires temporary workers during planting and
harvest. The lack of available temporary laborers is a
Because the large growers have well-defined marketing
channels and good marketing connections, they can sell their-
produce. They sell in large quantities to brokers in Starke
or to buyers in Jacksonville. They sometimes sell through their
own retailing vegetable stands.
The interactions of the cattle-poultry, cattle-vegetable
and cattle/hay/row crops are discussed here. The cattle-poultry
operations complement each-:ther well. The poultry operation
offers a steady source of income in contrast to the fluctuating
prices for beef. The poultry operation does not require a lot
of hired labor and may be run by other members of the family.
This frees the wife or husband to be engaged in employment on
farm or off-farm elsewhere. Another advantage is that the
chicken manure provides a good source of nitrogen for the
pastures. This chicken manure will also be used on relatives'
and neighbors' pastures. In the poultry-cattle operations,
the poultry operation was usually the main source of income.
Likewise, the cattle-hay operations complement each other
well. Hay of insufficient quality to be sold may be used on
the pasture grown for hay to help keep the weed growth down.
A hay operation with steady customers which the Bradford County
farmers had, promotes a steady source of income to combat the
up-and-down prices for beef. There is currently a good market
for high quality hay in Florida. Hay operations are mechanized,
which means that the farmer does not have to hire a lot of labor,
which is a critical constraining factor in this area. Some
operators also raised field corn for their cattle.
The cattle and vegetable operations do not complement
each other as well. Like the fluctuating prices for beef,
prices for vegetables are also volatile. Adding this with
other vegetable growing contraints, such as availability of
labor, rising input prices, high interest rates and reliable
brokers, means that growing vegetables has more risks than a
poultry or hay operation.
For all 3 systems, inputs such as fertilizers, machinery
and credit are available locally. Some of the markets, however,
are not docal; they are located outside Bradford County.
For instance, vegetables are sold in Jacksonville, cattle markets
in Gainesville, and Ellisville, and hay markets in Tampa.
In summary, the main constraints for cattle, vegetable,
hay and poultry operations are as follows:
FluCtuating price for beef
II. Vegetable--small commercial
Lack of land to manage the farm
Low produce prices
Rising input prices
Lack of availability of temporary labor
III. Vegetable--large commercial
The low price caused by intense competition in the
The lack of well functioning marketing facilities
Rising input prices
High interest rates
Lack of availability of temporary labor
Company contracting price and size of the operation
The most important constraints for the large commercial
growers of Bradford County are:
the low price caused by intense competition in
the open market
the lack of well-functioning marketing facilities
rising input prices
high interest rates.
Now that all observations have been reported and the
constraints identified, we believe that certain modifications
to the existing farming systems can help to overcome some of
these constraints. First, we would like to pass along these
primary recommendations which are largely technical in nature:
1. Weeds, fungi and various insects all prevent the
farmer from realizing the full potential of his crops. These
pests cost a lot of money to control. Yet, the observation was
that the farmers do not have a well-defined sampling or scout-
ing system to give them a good indication of how serious or NOT
their pest problems really are. Following a prescribed procedure,
by IFAS--Pest Management Program on pest sampling or
scouting (for example, using a net in certain areas of a field),
the farmer could determine counts, relate them to the IFAS
publication on Economic Injury Levels and Economic Thresholds,
and then make a more intelligent decision on when to apply
pesticides. The farmers want to control pests and save money;
IFAS and the County Agent could help them by disseminating the
Pest Management information to them and even showing them pest
sampling methods in the field. The cattle farmers wanted speci-
fically to combat Fire Ants; AMDRO BAIT, a new product on the
market is recommended now.
2. The county could promote the testingoof soils during
a particular week in the year. The farmer could then associate
this particular time with soil testing in future years, and not
overlook it so easily, since his friends and neighbors would be
there to remind him. A liming program could be promoted at
the same time.
3. Given the important role that farm wives are assuming
in the financial management of most farm operations and in view
of the present financial squeeze on farmers, as a whole, it is
suggested that some specialized courses in tax law, estate
planning and financial farm management would be well received.
These courses, taught by local experts, like Certified Public
Accountants, and bank officers, might supplement the financial
management courses that the home economist is planning.
4. For farmers interested in improved pasture on a limited
management basis, white clover can be established in existing
bahia grass stands to give a full year's use to the field.
Additionally, a simple rotation grazing system may be established
to take full advantage of the grass legume mix. It appears
that if the farmers were willing to maintain their pastures,
they could hire a customebaler and pay him with income from
the marketed hay; or they could rent the acreage to the custom-
baler and still make money.
5. Lack of a reliable vegetable broker and .:cooling facilities
(for such vegetables eissweet corn) makes marketing a serious
problem to vegetables in Bradford County. It is therefore,
suggested that a county farm market committee be set up to
study what can be done to establish a reliable market with
The County could promote the testing of soils during
a particular week in the year. The farmer could then associate
this particular time with SOIL testing in future years, and
not overlook /: so easily since his friends and neighbors would
be there to remind him. A liming program could be promoted
at the same time.
1. Since many of the farmers can only farm at night after
their full-time job, and on weekends, the Extension service could
probably serve this large segment of the population better by
opening Saturday morning and/or one evening per week.
2. Vegetable growers are eager to try new varieties and
perhaps even new specialty market vegetables. The county agent
could supply the most recent publications on new varieties.
3. Alternative crops, such as honeybee raising, catfish
farming or improving neglected pecan trees could provide '
interested Bradford County farmers with a supplemental income.
4. Attention was raised to the disease potential of
the chicken droppings as an agent of histoplasmosis. It is
suggested that the Home Economist of the county agents office
advise the farmers of-this potential hazard.
5. The three bl~ck farmers we visited, suggest that
there may be other black farmers who would be receptive to
6. Since the vegetable crop farmers depend on migrant
labor for the harvesting of their crops, the migration patterns
of these laborers from South Florida northward, could be
recorded so that farmers could coordinate expected harvest time
with labor availability.
The methodology:.used for the field work involved the
Sondeo approach which has specifically become associated with
Farming Systems Research (FSR). The major features of the
methodology which the group replicated in Bradford County are:
1. the use of interdisciplinary teams
2. farmers involvement in the identification of constraints
3. group input in the production of a final report.
The Group was made up of agronomists (3), anthropologists
(2), food resource economists (4), and an agricultural exten-
sionist. The group was divided into five working teams of two
researchers. Each team was assigned to one of five sectors
in the county at each time. The teams discussed their findings
after the morning sessions, and reassigned to another sector
in the afternoon. In this way, the multidisciplinary perspective
of the researchers was utilized in all the sector observations
on existing farming systems. The first interviews were held all
day Saturday, March 20, 1982; more were held on Tuesday, March 23,
1982, and all day Saturday, March 27th. Each team was given a
plat map with one of the five areas clearly delineated. Thus
the teams were able to choose their interviewees by using the
plat map as a guide, by talking with neighbors of farmers, or
simply by dropping in at random.
Farmer's Involvement in Identifying Constraints
Teams always made it clear that they were students
interested in learning about the farmers' operations and their
problems in farming. Farmers were, therefore, made to understand
that the teams were visiting their farms to learn about existing
and potential constraints to particular farm systems and to
county agriculture, in general. These interviews were spontaneous;
no writing materials were used. Observations were written up
after the team had left the farmer and were out of sight. The
on-farm problems that farmers discussed with the teams were to
be incorporated into a report prepared for IFAS.
Group Input in Report Preparation
The collection of secondary data such as history, socio-
economic variables, soils and climate, along with the write-up
of individual observations, afforded the members of the group to
work with information and data from their traditional disciplines.
Finally, group discussions and analyses of the individual observa-
tions in the preparation of this report, demonstrated the applica-
tion of the multi-disciplinary approach of the Sondeo methodology.
The main objectives of the Bradford County Sondeo were:
1. to provide students with a personal experience in the Sondeo technique
2. to enable the student team members to identify the homogenous farming
systems of the county,
3. to enable the student-team members to identify the major constraints
of the farming systems, and ...,
4. to propose certain modifications of technology to the farmers as
appropriate to their conditions.
Through the survey, students would acquire a better understanding of the
nature of family farms and the holistic relationship between household,
crops, livestock, and markets.
It is hoped that this general report will prove useful for any future work
that seeks to design efficient technologies meant to increase production,
augment farm incomes and improve the work and living standards of the