The following persons contributed to this report:
Amerling, Food and Resource Economics
James Dean, Food and Resource Economics
Bruce Dehm, Food and Resource Economics
Peter E. Hildebrand,
Food and Resource Economics
Dwight Schmidt, Anthropology
Marilyn Swisher, Geography
. . 0 0 .
Farming Systems Approach
Preliminary Survey .
. . . 0 0 .
0 0 0 5 S S S S 5
S a S S S a 6
Old-line and recently
Black and white farmer
Production systems .
S S S S S S S S S S
Proposed Projects as Indicated by the Sondeo.
NORTH FLORIDA FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION PROJECT
Suwannee and Columbia Counties
The North Florida Farming
stems Research and Extension (FSR/E) Project
has as objectives, 1) generate and promote scal
specific technology for the
small scale farmers in the northern part of the state who li
IFAS research and extension activities, and 2) test the appli-
ability and cost effectiveness of the FSR/E approach to Florida conditions.
The FSR/E procedure evolved over the last ten years in several developing
countries as a means of helping the very large number of small farmers in
solve their production and marketing problems
tors in IFAS were interested in the potential of the approach to reach the
difficult to include in usual research and extension practices under
the budgetary restrictions placed upon them.
On a pilot basi
a multidisciplinary team of three full-time profes-
sionals, with part-time participation from
ral others, has begun activi-
ties in the northern part of the state.
Initial screening narrowed the
area for the pilot project to six counties and a preliminary survey was used
to select two counties as the primary action area.
Suwannee and Columbia
counties comprise the area within which a more intensive, but rapid survey
called.a "Sondeo" (a Spanish term from its Central American origin) was
The Sondeo is designed to provide the initial and basi
station for research and extension activities directed to the small farm tar-
during the Sondeo process and which must be understood and taken into con-
sideration if appropriate and acceptable solutions to the problems of these
farmers are to be found.
More complete and definitive studies will be forth-
coming after the team has had time to work with these farmers over the next
few months and years in an attempt to help them in the problem solving process.
Farming Systems Approach
A wide range of dynamic and interrelated variable
education, credit structures, economic status, soil, weather, and market
factors shape the character of farm operations.
The ability of farmers to
successfully respond to this complex of factors depends on many things, but
one key item is the farmers
The farming systems
approach views the farm as a holistic
Components of this system include the natural and human environments
and the links established between these through such elements as technology.
A systematic approach allows a delineation and comprehension of the nature
of resources and resource constraints associated with farm operations
which research and appropriate technology may be directed
In addition to
constraints, a systems approach identifies the needs and interests of the
farmers themselves, under the assumption that generated technology will be
adopted when the farmers desire such innovations and directly perceive
these to be beneficial.
The complexity of external (off-farm) factors impinging upon local
farm systems, the rapidity of agricultural change, and the increasingly high
n%4 A -C It -4 .. nt 4 n A- II 4t.Ltmn 1 n .. A,.. 2J I C 4. -.- .1. rC. ..- 1 1
important to remember that traditional
teams have been successful
tions to their traditional
in the past, and that farmers have made adapta-
systems when new technology proved appropriate
An examination of the characteristics of
of a successful farming strategy specific to North Florida, and the farmer's
own prerequisites and interests can point to the direction in which the
FSR/E Program must move.
A preliminary survey was conducted
in six North Florida counties during
week period following March
was to assess
the frequency of small
farms within each individual
to determine the
location of homogeneous farming system groups
to make the Farming Systems approach cost effective0
team members met with county extension per-
farmers and observed local
information sources utilized during the preliminary
survey included the
Suwannee River Water Management District,
the North Florida Regional
the North Florida Association of Small
Farm Cooperatives, and
The preliminary survey permitted the team to differentiate the tradi-
family farm from at
least two other broad
large, agribusiness concern and the
ranchette or subdivision unit
of the there
differ and of the three,
it is the small
I .. em'
L. L. - -1 5. -L.* -r -~n ~ lI -F 1a. a na Ia aa aatS fl -f le f
as a business venture by the
is profit and growth oriented and makes his decisions
on the basis described by classic
The ranchette or sub-
division farmer has normally moved to the country for other reasons than a
desire to farm
to buy land and
While the desire to own land and grow his own food
operation is minimally commercial and the money used
equipment is earned off-farm
in many ways, a
In contrast to both the agribusinessman and the ranchette
family farmer pi
a high value on farming as a way
. His operation is commercial
one of his goal
maintaining the farm
as a home is al
, In the face of high
risk or the need to carry high debt
he may well
loads in order to maximize profit,
prefer to forego the opportunity to maximize profit if doing
so assures him of
The opportunities to avail
family farmers for other reasons
of new technology are
farmer has a high volume of production, and has the capital
financing that permits him to purchase "state of the art"technology.
Much research is oriented to this
farmer is more concerned with production for home consumption.
how to utilize the public and private servi
family farmer who has been "left out"
of technology for the
last 20-25 years.
in the development
Much of the research which
farms, so "state of the art" technology is not available to this group.1/
Further, the scale of operation has not permitted the small family
farmer to compete successfully as profit becomes more and more a function
of high volume production.
Although small operations were found in all six counties, survey
results indicated larger numbers in Suwannee and Columbia county
cidentally, these counties are ideally located between Gainesville and the
Live Oak Agricultural Research Station.
Because of these considerations,
Suwannee and Columbia counties were chosen as the primary areas of inter-
The primary purpose of a Sondeo or "sounding out" is the rapid compil-
ation of data necessary to orient an effective program to provide relevant
and realistic solutions to farm problems.
Suwannee and Columbia counties i
The recent Sondeo conducted in
the first step in the North Florida FSR/E
Project directed towards development and promotion of agricultural tech-
nology for small and/or limited resource farmers.
The strength of the Sondeo procedure is the representation of a num-
ber of disciplines; the more that are represented, the higher the proba-
abilities of unearthing real problems and generating acceptable
in an efficient and timely manner.
in Suwannee and Columbia county
began during the
. An average of two teams
sed of two or three
persons each wa
in the field three days a week until
farm interviews were conducted
as interviews with county Exten-
leaders, and persons knowledgeable
Interview length averaged
led to a
further differentiation among groups of small,
patterns of interest emerged.
1) which serves
identify target groups for technol-
ogy development and transfer on the basis of both socio-economi
duction factors has been developed.
There are three production systems:
o These systems repre-
differences among the farm operations
, especially with respect to resources and the management of
Observations indicate these
differences reflect variation in
terms of how farmers view and value their farm practi
in their social
uch networks represent
especially kin-based labor)
land, equipment, and other variable
important to a
structures are major
influencing the structure
of these networks.
"Recently Established" Small
M 3 LO C3 M 3 L3 C 9 M 10
(4.5%) (4.5%) (4.5%) (4.5%) (13.6%) (15.
- Two or more generations on land, established kin/social networks i
- First generation on land, new to area, no established
- Livestock-centered enterprise
- Crop-centered enterprise
- Livestock/crop mixed enterprise
Average Acreage per Farm Classification
part of a local, established network of kin, has bought or inherited land
held within his/her family for two or more generations, and is socially in-
corporate within the local community.
A farmer is classified as recently
established if he is an "outsider" (does not have membership in a local
established kin network), is not
southern, and/or has had to obtain land
from a stranger or non-related individual.
o -- Selected Characteristics of the "Recentl
Labor and Custom
Cash and Capital
Slightly smaller (184
purchased from family
More assured availability
Low investment in land and
Low cash flow
Low indebtedness in land
Informal loan arrangements
Very risk averse
Slightly larger (196 acres)
Purchased on open market
High investment in land and
High cash flow
High indebtedness in land and
Institutionalized loan arrange-
Less risk averse
Purchase or hire equipment
Old-line farmers (79% of the sample) tend to be Dart of well established
all the tobacco allotments.
On the other hand, these ties also bring added
responsibility; reciprocal labor in tobacco harvesting may mean a farmer is
working continuously for several weeks even though his own allotment is
Among the recently established group, such ties are much less devel-
oped and goods and services are supplied on a
cash basis o
This group has
to less expensive kin-based labor, to local community
power figures who make agricultural decisions or influence markets, and to
shared equipment than do old-line farmers.
The latter exchange these re-
sources along their social networks with considerable savings.
The kinds of differences described above
extend into many areas.
line farmers acquire part or all their land from family members, whereas
new farmers have to purchase their land on the open market.
Even when old-line
farmers purchase land, family
members may sell more cheaply t
kin, and often
at lower interest rates and with flexible, non-institutional payment
Some land is also inherited.
This both lowers the debt load of the
old-line farmer in compare
son to the recently established farmer, and
gives a slight advantage in terms of farm si
Sharing equipment similarly decreases the relative indebtedness of
farmer compared to the recently established farmer.
because of this lower indebtedness
cash flow i
and partly because of risk aversion,
much lower for old-line farmers.
There are also differences in arrangements for labor and custom oper-
since old-line farmers often use family labor
is relatively well assured.
Recently established farm
, their labor supply
Black and White Farmers
The separation in Figure 1, based on race, (Table 2), represents a
historic division in Southern culture.
Some black farmers feel certain
production outlets, for example watermelons, are "white-controlled".
perceptions may influence their evaluation of risks and opportunities to
try other production enterprises.
Black farmers, in general, own older,
specialized equipment than do white farmers.
They own less land than
white farmers and are less apt to irrigate. White farmers have greater
access to capital and higher capital investments. On the other hand, black
farmers share capital much more freely within their kin units than do white
They also rely more heavily on non-paid kin labor.
There may be
important constraints on black farmers based upon the bonds of obligatory
sharing that their culture prescribes.
Sharing capital, land, labor and
equipment has permitted black farmers to maintain their farms despite the
severe constraints facing each individual farmer.
elected Characteristics of Black and White Farms
Predominantly crop centered
Small (141 acres)
Less capital availability
Greater labor availability (sharing
High frequency of tobacco-centered
systems with small allotments
Predominantly livestock centered
Larger (221 acres)
More capital availability
Larger tobacco acreage
I,,,,,,,,,,., L ,,,,, L, L~
The third separation in Figure
delineates the production modes of
networks and their influence on access
labor and other inputs are related to whether a farmer is old-line or re-
cently established, and to race.
Owing to smaller acreage and, perhaps,
of black farmers with crops,
42% of the black farming system
White farming systems,
in contrast, are primarily
(35%) with only a small
Fully, half of the small
proportion (10%) centered on crops.
ited, black or white operated,
both black and white farmers rai
black farmers are
apt to plant small
acreages, usually limited to their own allotments.
White farmers however,
that it i
to plant such small
either rent out their allotments or consolidate several allot-
Black farmers may be abl
to continue with
acreages because they do not own new, expensive machinery and be-
cause they have access
Very few black farmers plant peanuts for commercial
white farmers do
of black-owned farms
tied to the skewed geographic distribution
Peanuts are grown in southern
uwannee and Columbia
where few black farms occur.
Black farms are,
for the most part,
outside the peanut production zone, concentrated on and near old planta-
high input crops.
Even though the acreage planted
in peanuts or tobacco
may be small,
the high value and guaranteed market for these crops means
that disproportionate demands
The farmer must always take i
on the farmer and his resources are made.
nto consideration the needed cash flow so
that other crops that compete with them at peak cash demand receive
Even more important are the demands of these crops from
time and labor.
Because these are also scarce resources,
demand places severe constraints on the system.
Further, both tobacco and
should be planted in rotation, on different
land each year.
peanut farmers and
ome tobacco farmer
in the overall
innovation in tobacco or peanut production per
an important part of the FSR/E Program,
must be kept in mind.
importance of the
Innovations in other farm enterprises
may not be
into account the constraints imposed on the overall
system by tobacco or
, hogs and associated corn production are key ele-
in almost all
farms and offer exce
llent opportunities for technology
and labor con-
strains between black and white farmers may well
-- Frequency of Selected Enterprises and Disposition of Product,
Small Farmers, Suwannee and Columbia Counties
Based, in all
Based, in all
on a sample of 66
Corn (Table 4) has traditionally been an important crop not only because
the technology for its production is relatively simple and well known, but
also because it provides alternatives and fl
exibility to the farmer; it can
be grazed off, fed to livestock as grain or silage, stored, or sold as a
As the local corn market has become more and more
pricing in the national and international markets, and as relative costs
of corn production have increased in Florida, corn has become 1
Drought conditions over the last 4 years have exacerbated
-- Aspects of the Corn
Small Farmers, Suwannee and
Farm Class Type % Farms % On-Farm % Sale
(Number) With Corn Use
Old-line Black (21) 81.0 66.7 333
Old-line White (31) 75.2 48.4 35.5
r - .. . L i--. r t
Vegetable production (Table 5), both for on-farm consumption and commer-
is very common to both black and white farming systems.
black farmers with more than
half of thi
group producing vegetables for sal
-- Aspects of Vegetabl
Farms, Suwannee and
Farm Class Type % Farms with Vegetables % Sale
Old-line Black (21) 85.7 52.4
Old-line White (31) 67.7 22.6
lished Black ( 5) 100.0 60.0
lished White ( 9) 66.7 33.3
Black Total (26) 88.5 53.8
White Total (40) 67.5 25.0
Overall Total (66) 75.8 36.4
The number of farmers in North Florida using irrigation has risen sharply
last two years due to
lack of rainfall.
The farmers who are
irrigation represent a group with sufficient resource flexibility to overcome
Limited resource farmers who cannot make this
change have experienced severe, consecutive
how that the old-line
For emphasis within the FSR/E Program
the sample group and represents
farmer should be a major
o This category predominates in
segment of the farm population which
facing those categorized
as old-line will allow for easier transfer of that
technology to recently established farmers who utilize similar production
systems, but face less stringent constraints.
One specific target group
indicated by the Sondeo is the old-line white farmers who are livestock
oriented, with primary emphasis
on cattle production.
line black farmers who are primarily crop oriented with emphasis on vege-
A third group
and perhaps the most important,
is the old-line
mixed crop-livestock farmers
both black and white, who together comprise
nearly half the sample.
, large and small
desire and need for diver-
Family farms in North Florida do exhibit diversified farming
systems with a wide variety of crop and animal combinations.
cattle play a vital role on many small farms, often even in peanut or
Corn production and the high acreage devoted
to hay and pasture both reflect the importance of animal
One key fac-
tor, then, is to include and increase the viability of the livestock com-
ponent within the overall farming systems.
The small family farmer
the importance of low risk, low cap-
, low labor, and low management farm operations0
While it may not be
possible to devise innovations that satisfy all these concerns
solution must address a substantial number of these factors.
, any possible
ment time and skills or unlimited capital resources, for example, cannot
be assumed to be available.
Acceptability to the farmer is the focal point
of innovation, and acceptance
will certainly be based upon innovations
The Sondeo has permitted us to identify appropriate target groups and
a guideline for technology development.
However, the Sondeo is no more
than an introduction to the farmers and their problems and an initial basis
for orienting problem solution.
The process of learning continues in the
- on farm research, farm records and continued contact with the
As we become acquainted on a first-hand basi
with the farmers,
their problems and conditions, we will be abl
to modify our research acti-
as new knowledge is gained
The understanding of the agro-socioeconomic
of the small, family farm sector we obtain by these methods, will be
even more critical as we approach the technology transfer stage.
Proposed Projects as Indicated by the Sondeo
General Information Transfer
This is a continuing activity and involves a constant interaction
with area farmers, primarily by the anthropologist, but with active partici-
pationof all the members of the inter-disciplinary team0.
is both to and from the farmers.
Information transfer studies will include comparison of black and
white kin and social networks and information transfer mechanisms in order
to more completely identify resources and constraints found in the various
The kinds of differences in capital and labor constraints
between black and white farmers, for example, may require somewhat differ-
Cooperating farmers will be asked to keep records on enterprises
specific interest to the program.
These budgets will be used as a
of comparison for analyzing new technology as it i
being tested and
will also provide basic information for general budgeting purposes.
graduate assistant will have primary responsibility for initiating this
A study will be initiated to determine the effect of ad-valorum
taxes on the small farms in the study area.
Specifically, the effects of
greenbelt assessment on the decline of small farm numbers will be studied.
Studies of marketing alternatives available to area farmers, par-
ticularly in conjunction with modular vegetable
production systems, will
provide a guide for further directions of research and extension.
II. Cropping Studies
Ao Modular Intercropping System
A modular system designed around 42-inch rows and a small one
row tractor will be studied at the Live Oak Research Station.
ping will be utilized to increase efficiency of fertilizer use, decrease
the use of pesticides, intensify farming operations, and spread risk.
r.....2r2..~I .L1 .2 3 -- ,
..___I, L 'I
ince 90% of old-line black farms are crop-centered or mixed, with 45%
should be directed toward
e, modular cropping system research
this group and should include vegetable
tion as a key element.
the technology developed
should be trans-
ferable to other classifications
and inexpensive equipment will
be designed around a 20 hp
similar to that used by many small
in the area.
be designed for the
modular system, but will
be flexible so it
can be adapted to conventional
should that prove
cost, reduced tillage agriculture suitable for
smaller equipment with parts readily availabi
strongly and this will
on farms was evidenced very
be included in the study.
irrigation systems will
be studied as one
means of increasing the intensity of operations on small
farms and reduc-
. Low cost,
low input irrigation
terns for high income crops,
conjunction with alternate fuel
This project will
be conducted both on the campu
and at Live Oak
A nr .. -I, ^ I-n r4-m.Anrf ?rt4.e r- n.J 4\ n r ^n4-^^v\ 4nn *.,44. kI e t m lrn
rl h il~\ll~mnn~~ f~
Eo On-Farm Trials
At least ten on-farm trial
are planned for the year.
these will be in the specific
study area, but some may be on farms in sur-
rounding counties to obtain broader regional response information.
nature of the trials remains to be determined, but may include some of the
The use of alternate feed crops such as sorghum and
pigeon pea as a means of penetrating compaction layers
Establishment of perennial peanut and intercropping in
previously established stands.
Variety trials under
specific small farm conditions.
example, corn has traditionally been a cash crop in the
Interviews have indicated a need for testing
corn varieties under non-irrigated, low input, local condi-
Soil type and farming systems.
For the farming
systems chosen for study
the soils will be clas-
sified to determine any
systems and soil type.
specific relationships which may exist between the
If small farms predominately are found on poorer
soils or on any specific type of soils, this will facilitate crop and live-
stock research efforts
o Soil types versus farming systems studio
provide a valuable tool for future recommendations
is nearing completion)
(A preliminary study
In addition, the study will examine soil compac-
Alternate forage systems.
Examination of alternative forage
teams to include perennial peanut, leucaena, and others.
would incorporate adaptable
low cost, energy efficient concepts.
The corn-hog association is of great importance to the small farms
More than half the farmers surveyed produce swine and
of them produce feed (corn) on their own farms.
swine production techniques and
For example, either poor or non-existent farrowing
facilities were noted at most farms which produced their own litters.
may be a result of the lack of information available
through the existing
, or it may indicate the need for modifications in recom-
mended facilities to make them more appropriate to the conditions of these
The FSR/E team will work with county Extension personnel to test
a means of disseminating available information to thi
unique target group
as well as test the acceptability of recommended facilities.
One major constraint in the corn-hog
citation has been the need for the farmer to utilize off-farm facilities for
drying, storing, grinding, and mixing hi
corn for feed.
cash-flows involved have drastically reduced the profit margin for
Investigation of high moisture grain storage a
well as in-
clusion of grinding, mixing, and storage facilities within the farm bound-
alternate crops which could be
integrated into present swine systems,
eluding sorghum, wheat, soybeans, pigeon pea, and others
Nutrition studies will
be conducted in
conjunction with the Swine Unit at Live Oak Research Center.
be the feasibility of feeding mixes of alternate feed crops
such as pigeon pea, wheat and grain sorghum.