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Synthesis of North Florida Farming Systems Project
University of Florida
~University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Ip[FAS Gainesville, Florida
SYNTHESIS OF NORTH FLORIDA FARMING SYSTEMS PROJECT, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA, 1981-1984.
Dwight Leigh Schmidt
Department of Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida
In Collaboration With
Drs. Edwin French, Marilyn Swisher and Peter Hildebrand, Mr. James Dean, Mr. John Wake, Mr. Glenn Sappie, Mr. Bruce Dehm and Other Members of the North Florida Project.
A Report Commissioned by Dr. Peter Hildebrand, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville.
Dr. Schmidt gratefully acknowledges the help of the collaborating individuals, but takes responsibility for any errors within the text. Some of the observations related to administrative problems also are his, and do not necessarily reflect those of other team members.
SYNTHESIS OF NORTH FLORIDA FARMING SYSTEMS PROJECT, 1981-1984.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Executive Summary ...............*.. .............. i
Purpose of Synthesis ............................. 1
What FSR/E Is .................................... 1
History and Social-Economic Characteristics
of Suwannee and Columbia Counties: An
Overview ....................................... 4
Farming Systems: Clientele and Problem-Oriented
Research of the.FSR/E Team ...................... 8
-- Development of the North Florida
FSR/E Project ......................... ..... 8
-- The North Florida FSR/E Clientele ....,....... 12
-- Clientele Problems and Proposed
Alternatives Identified by the Team ......... 17
Management ..... o.. .... ................. 23
Drought and Soil Compaction .................. 24
Grain Crops ..... .................... ... 25
Fertility ..................................... 26
Forage.Crops ............................................ 26
Other Alternatives 26
Summary ...................................... 27
Discussion of Research Results ................... 30
Numbers of Cooperators ............................ 37
Institutional Collaborators ................... 37
-- Farmer Collaborators .......................... 39
Organization: Development, Problems
and Proposals ............................. 42
Development of Project ........................... 42
-- Team Administration ................ ....*..... 42-- Budgets ....................................... 47.
-- Administrative Problems ...... 49
-- Synopsis of 1983. External Review 53
-- References cited............................... 54
* Executive Summary
Synthesis of North Florida Farming Systbms
Research and Extension Project, IFAS, University of Florida.Objectives
The major objectives of this work were 1) to synthesize the data generated by the North Florida FSR /E Project to date, including research findings from agronomic and socioeconomic activities, and to describe the project's organizational development, structure, and objectives; 2) to identify research inconsistencies and problems capable of being rectified through further programmed activities; and 3) to prepare a report to serve as a basis for team documents and for evaluation purposes.
The University of.Florida received USDA support in 1980 to begin a domestic farming systems effort, supplemented by IFAS funding and politically supported by a growing awareness of "the plight of the small scale farmer." The report's sections describe the region in which the project operates, the nature of its clientele group, problems and constraints of the clientele addressed by the,project, and the outcomes of research activities to date. Administrative structure and problems are discussed and budgets provided.
Agriculture is important to the Suwannee River Basin- where the project operates. While agriculture provides roughly 20% of the area's personal income, agricultural land makes up a major part of the tax base. Farm household connections to the urban sector through jobs, commerce, credit and the like are high.
,Approximately 600 farm households in- Suwannee and Columbia counties form the North Florida FSR/E clientele. major traits characteristic of this clientele include (1) gross farm income under $40,000, (2) tobacco and peanut acreages under 10 and 15 acres respectively, (3) high reliance Dn family labor and reciprocal exchanges, and (4) high proportion of off-farm income use. Approximately .80% of the clientele have been on the farm two or more generations or have social connections to established farm families. These connections provide them with access to support networks and land, among other things. Newer members of the clientele typically lack the degree of social integration seen in established families. Limited management time and cash flow are major constraints for both groups. While profit motivated, these clients tend to choose production strategies which are least risky to disruption of the total household's stability'and the goals of-its members.
Production systems here include crop centered, livestock centered, and mixed crop and livestock systems. Specially
crops, specially peanuts and tobacco are important. Most clients practice diversified farming.
A survey (Sondeo), conducted in 1981, was used to classify the clientele described. It also and most importantly identified problems and constraints faced by the clientele. The major bio-physical constraints are a result of the poor resource base. Soil structure and native fertility are poor. Rainfall is unreliable, and soil moisture retention is poor. Weed, insect, and disease pressures are high. Socio-economic constraints are a result of insufficient management time and cash flow, exacerbated by unstable markets, changing government policy and rising production costs.
The Sondeo focused the team's research efforts. Short range objectives were delineated and research activities were designed to meet them. The Sondeo focussed the team's research efforts. Short range objectives are designed primarily to increase the profitability of current enterprises. To this end, the team has attempted to find means of reducing costly farm inputs, especially fertilizer; improving cash flow management; moving away from energy-intensive systems; attacking hardpan problems; developing intercropping systems; and improving information transfer. Observations of farm practices determined production techniques which the team needed to incorporate into its research designs. In particular, these included planting techniques, and varying fertilization timings and rates of fertilizer used. Work began on-farm and station in the fall of 1981. Long range objectives include developing alternative enterprises that will provide on-going stability for the farm family.
Farming systems is designed to rapidly and accurately
identify problems faced by the clientele, and proceed to develop alternative and systemic solutions to those problems.
Problem Identification: 3 years of feedback from various sources including farmers, review teams and collaborating professionals has offered a general concensus that the FSR/E work has rapidly and fairly accurately identified a number of key problems faced by the clientele, and moved to find alternative solutions to those problems. Useful technologies have been tested with winter grains, tropical corn, as a result of the fertility studies, and with perennial peanut.
Many of the alternatives investigated have been examined on the basis of potential multiple uses (e.g., wheat production for grazingand/or grain), variable management conditions and the degree to which they meet management, capital, labor and other constraints. In general, these solutions have been oriented with the characteristics of the farming systems in mind, and thus are systemic in nature. Many of the research activities are designed to offer farmers alternatives which either reduce their input costs, improve overall resource use, or replace
Research Results to Date: Simplified record books were made available the first year, and since modified. An educational effort, directed largely at farm wives who commonly manage the record books is now under way. The records have provided excellent comparative data on production practices, identified areas where research is needed and permitted.farmers to compare then own practices from an agronomic and economic standpoint.
A simple, low-cost low horsepower requiring subsoiler was developed the first year to break the soil hardpan. It has potential use for planting summer grains in particular, and will be used in planting tropical corn. Pigeon pea, having a long tap root, was examined to see if it could break through the hardpan. Varied management problems encountered with presently available genotypes have eliminated this crop as a potential alternative crop for the present.
Alternative grain and forage crops--amaranth, pigeon pea, and alyceclover--were investigated on station. They all experienced problems due to biophysical constraints. IFAS researchers are continuing a selection and breeding program with the two promising crops, alyceclover and pigeon pea.
Tropical corn was first planted on farm by the team in 1983. It faced severe insect and drought problems. Farmer enthusiasm toward this corn type has spurred further testing of cultivars, planting dates and fertilization practices. It potentionally offers a good alternative to traditional corn because of its higher resistance to weevil damage in storage, in, addition to its ability to grow and produce following summer planting.
Winter grain work has been quite successful. Originally examined as an alternative to corn, winter grains may be more widely used in doublecropping systems and to supplement costly winter forage. Wheat work concentrated on planting date, fertility and grazing studies, resulting in recommendations specific to the region-on these practices. Wheat can be grazed for 6 weeks in the region, and new varieties such as Florida 302 promise longer grazing. Triticale and new oat cultivars were first examined in 1983-84. They offer greater frost- and disease-resistance than other grains. Microelement trials should provide sufficient data to make recommendations by late 1984.
Application of 80#/acre N on wheat was verified by 1982 and now work is focusing on timing of application, especially critical -on the shorter season wheats being grown here in Florida. Sulfer was identified as critical in 1982 and research demonstrated the advantages of adding 20#/acre.
A research effort examining P, K, S and microelement
responses in wheat-soybean doublecropping systems has been going on for 3 years in cooperation with agronomic and soils scientists. Fertilization recommendations thus will soon be available for operations which either monocrop or doublecrop.
Perennial peanut work has centered on finding ways of
establishing the crop in the area's deep sands, where weeds are also prevalent. High costs of establishment may inhibit adoption. Intercropping work in established stands showed success with winter grains but not summer crops. Overseeding oats into coastal bermuda sod, looked promising in 1984. Further trials are planned.Two graduate studies now in *progress should identify better ways of reaching the clientele. A newsletter for small scale producers is being produced and will be distributed at various sites to test its effectiveness as a media for information transfer. Slide-tape modules are also being developed for the clientele.
Cattle management studies are being discussed. A prototype automatic gate opener is now being tested on farm controlling grazing. This innovation could play a key role in pasture grazing management.
During the period from FY 1984-1987, the IFAS Evaluation Unit will conduct an evaluation of the FSR/E effort and the Florida A and M University 1890s project. This effort will provide good measurement data of FSR/E effectiveness in generating appropriate technology for a small farm clientele.
The FSR/E team has cooperated with 20 research and 9
extension agents during 1983-84. An average of 6 students per year have been affiliated with the project conducting some phase. of research.
The numbers of farmer contacts made by the team went from 66 in the original Sondeo to over 225 by spring, 1984. Approximately 60 different farms have cooperated in on-farm trials. The team has produced 30 papers or other publications on the project-and research findings, with at least 8 more forthcoming in 1984.
The Florida team began as a core of 2 faculty (Hildebrand, French), 2 USDA appointees (Dean, Clough) and 5 graduate students, supervised by the Deans for Extension, Research and Resident Instruction, and a Technical Advisory Committee of department deans and members of International Programs. Today, the project has a multicounty agent (Swisher), and is largely centered at the Live Oak Area Research Center, where much of the station research is conducted. Research station staff perform much of the work. This represents a movement towards "regionalizing" FSR/E.
Extension agents play much greater roles in developing
FSR/E work plans and research designs than was true during the first two years. Annual reviews have been held. since 1982 and during 1983, an external review was also conducted. The
recommendations of that external team were favorable to maintaining farming systems at Florida, though questions about further institutionalization were raised.
.The FSR/E project continues to face a number of
administrative/managerial problems, mostly related to turnover of personnel. An individual in a long term position is needed to maintain an updated data management system including field trial and enterprise records. Questions about how members of the project should be evaluated within the University system need to be addressed.
This report was prepared by Dwight L. Schmidt, in collaboration with the members of the North Florida FSR/E Project, in April, 1984. Drs. Peter Hildebrand, Edwin French and Mickie Swisher provided major assistance to Dr. Schmidt.
PURPOSE OF SYNTHESIS
This report represents a synthesis of the data generated by the North Florida Farming Systems Project to date, including research findings from station and on farm trials. It describes the project's--organizational development and structure, specifying how it determined its objectives and the degree to which it has met said objectives over time.
The following sections describe the region in which the project operates, the nature of its clientele group, problems and constraints identified by the clientele which have been addressed by the project, and the outcomes of research and extension activities to date. Concluding sections present data on the administration of the program, including financial support, team structure, and managerial problems which have been encountered.
WHAT FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION IS
Farming systems is an holistic, interdisciplinary approach to agrarian development. It is being used with varying degrees of success in many Third World countries and in a limited but growing number of cases in the United States. The holism of the, approach derives from the meaning of a "farming system." A farming system is the phenomenon that results from the members of each farm unit's unique interpretation of the natural and socioeconomic environment in which they attempt to -farm, as influenced by available resources and those agronomic,,. biophysical and sociocultural factors affecting their decisions. Farming systems teams work with "homogeneous farming systems" once these have been identified in a region. The latter represent sets of individual farm units sharing common characteristics and problems to which a farming systems team can direct its efforts.
A farming systems perspective draws upon social and
biological sciences in order to delineate and comprehend this broad and dynamic context. The use of an interdisciplinary team offers a greater probability of defining real problems and of producing useful technological alternatives. The approach maximizes knowledge gathering and interpretation and minimizes time and costs involved in problem solving and dissemination of new technologies. It achieves this by focusing on specific problems and incorporating farmers into the research. The approach differs from component research in that it recognizes interactions between components (hence, a "system").and takes these into account in proposing and evaluating technological
The public policy goal of farming systems is to improve the food production capabilities of family farm units within the context of their societal and biophysical environments. From the farm unit's members' point of view, farming systems is successful if it generates technologies which they adopt for whatever reasons. The felt needs and desires of farmers and their families are the focus of 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 farming systems approach has structurally evolved to the point where it necessarily encompasses two basic and integrated components. These are known as the farming systems approach to infrastructural support and policy--FSIP, and the farming systems approach to technology generation (research) and dissemination (extension)--FSR/E (Hildebrand and Waugh 1983). FSIP is more "macro" than FSR/E, and because it deals with policy, has been harder to implement and evaluate.
If farming systems examines the farm unit as a
sociocultural and economic whole, and therefore empirically develops a systemic farm model, then as a perspective and research procedure it is likewise systemic. Thus, FSIP can influence the technology and dissemination component by revealing infrastructural barriers to development and indigenous support systems to which a farming systems team could become connected. FSR/E can inform policy by revealing how farmers manipulate resources that are available to them. Feedback loops integrate the components; research and development flow both "up" and "down" when farming systems is understood in its widest meaning. It is this dynamic framework and the proper functioning of a team of biological and social scientists that potentially makes the farming systems approach so powerful a tool for development.
As its name implies, FSR/E combines research and extension activities. Farming systems research is conducted both on station and on farm. On farm trials allow the testing of technology under diverse management and environmental conditions, while allowing the farmer to observe and participate in the trial, thereby enhancing learning of the technology and providing direct farmer evaluation. On farm trials can be either researcher or farmer managed; the former are usually conducted when the research is addressing basic questions, and they are commonly supplemented by station trials.
The North Florida FSR/E Program
The North Florida Farming Systems Research/Extension
(FSR/E) Project initially was conceived as a "pilot" domestic project. The purpose of the North Florida FSR/E Program is to identify, develop, test and deliver appropriate technology for
limited resource farm households in north Florida.
The project cooperates with both research and extension efforts in the region. The project is operated by a interdisciplinary team consisting of social and agronomic scientists, local extension personnel, and research scientists from-agricultuiral research stations and Gainesville.
The methodology employed by the project has five basic steps. They are: 1) identify specific problems within homogeneous farming systems on the basis of farm household input; 2) generate alternative solutions to those problems; 3) test promising solutions on farm; 4) evaluate acceptability of solutions; 5) disseminate acceptable alternatives to population. The most important evaluation criterion in the long run will be the numbers of farmers adopting the technology developed or validated by the FSR/E team.
The North Florida project began in 1980 when Peter
Hildebrand and Edwin French were given authority to organize a domestic farming systems project. U.S.D.A. support for the project was forthcoming. Selection of a region for research followed by a survey (Sondeo) of smaller-scale farms there was conducted in 1981. on farm testing began in the fall of that year. A Sondeo is a relatively inexpensive, informal interviewing technique conducted by interdisciplinary teams, designed to gather baseline information on farm characteristics and operational problems. Further details on the North Florida Project are provided in ensuing sections. For information on the Sondeo technique, refer to Hildebrand (1979a).
(1) The term "farm household" appropriately describes the north Florida farm unit, as decisions about farming are made within the context. of a family household. Household and *farm expenses are typically not distinguished; household- labor, capital and other resources are critically integrated into the farm activities. Household membership is variable, ranging from single adult units to extended families sharing land, labor and 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.
HISTORY AND SOCIAL-ECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS OF
SUWANNEE AND COLUMBIA COUNTIES: AN OVERVIEW
Suwannee and Columbia counties were selected as the focus ,for initial work by the North Florida FSR/E Program. Agriculture has always been the major economic activity in this region and, despite industrialization and declines in farm numbers, it remains crucial to these counties' economies.
Historically, Suwannee and Columbia counties were located peripherally to Florida's "plantation belt," which extended north and west across the Panhandle and reached down into. Alachua and Marion counties. (See Figure 1.) Settlement by Anglo-Americans began in the l830s and quickly increased after the Civil War ended. The pine and hardwood timber were initially exploited, clearing 'lands which were put into farming.: Railroad and riverboat, access to these counties attracted farm families, and by the late 19th century Live Oak and Lake City, the county seats, were expanding towns serving an established and largely independent hinterland agrarian populace. Farm tenancy rates were lower in these counties than in many other Florida counties, creeping upward only when the Depression hit in the late 1920s.
Like much of the South, the early farm households in this region combined subsistence with commercial production. Subsistence crops included corn, potatoes, greens and other vegetables, and a few livestock. Cash-*crops included cotton, and by the early 20th century, watermelons, winter produce and vegetables for the town markets, and pecans. When cotton was decimated by the boll weevil in the early 1900s, a combined effort by Suwannee's leading farmers and town capitalists (merchants and timber magnates) brought in flue-cured tobacco. Tobacco farmers from the Carolinas were transported to Suwannee, and a major warehouse was built. Live Oak rapidly became Flor-ida's leading flue-cured tobacco market and the farms of Suwannee and Columbia counties the leading flue-cured producers.
Mechanization, introduction of hybrids and chemical fertilizers affected this region as they did nationally. Tobacco production was slow to mechanize, but other enterprises--especially corn-profited by "modern" agriculture. As tobacco markets weakened in the 1950s, the town business community once again acted to strengthen the agricultural base by encouraging the development of livestock production. Farmers were provided incentives to improve the quality of their cattle and hogs, new breeds were introduced, and corn, the major animal feed source, became a major cash crop.
During the 1960s,. the region experienced a number of trends towards enterprise specialization. Poultry operations were established, wealthier white farm households moved into cattle production, and the trend toward consolidating tobacco allotments intensified. Some large farms developed irrigated,
"agro-industrial" corn production. On many smaller family farms, diversity still predominated. Small farms tended to have mixed livestock herds with but a few purebred stock, unirrigated corn, and mixes of modern and older equipment.
The 1970s have proven to be a critical decade for
agriculture in the region. Strong export markets, rising land values (related to migration into the area by former urban-dwellers), and accessible credit encouraged farmers to further capitalize their operations. In the late 1970s, a series of droughts, stabilization of land values, declining agricultural prices brought about by excessive national production, declining world demand and consequent credit restrictions reversed the trend, and farmers faced debt and disturbing market prospects.
The early 1980s further saw changes in the tobacco and peanut allotment systems, which have forced additional small farmers from producing these crops. Corn production dropped with continued weather problems and low prices, although the P.I.K. program is expected in 1984 to result in increased acreages planted compared to the past three.years. Soybeans and wheat acreages are on the rise but soybeans is a capital intensive crop. Farmers are still learning how to raise both crops. Many farm households have off-farm income and have had to pay debts through selling land, equipment or other farm goods.
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. Economicjindicators suggest that the region will strengthen its dependency upon industrial, as opposed to agricultural, employment. Yet in the meantime, agriculture remains important, and for many families it is a critical source of income and a preferred lifestyle.
There were 1,140 farms in Suwannee and 589 farms in
Columbia according to the 1978 Census of Agriculture. Both counties have experienced population increases in the rural areas over the past decade. Suwannee's rural population increased 78.2% between 1970 and 1980, and Columbia's increased 102.1% over the same time (U.S. Census of Population). Part of this increase represents people establishing farms, mostly of small acreage and the "hobby" type. These population influxes helped to raise land values against which farmers borrowed money. They have also led to the adoption of more restrictive development legislation in the counties. In general, the counties' established farm populations have been declining since the end of World War II, a trend expected to continue.
The average age of the farm household head (as defined by the census) was 50 years for Suwannee and 50.4 years for Columbia. Average farm size, respectively, was 217 and 240 acres. These averages have remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. Less than 15% of the farm households in either county are black; black farm households tend to be concentrated in small farm communities centered about old churches, and many
older white farm communities follow this pattern.
Farm operations in the region remain largely independent in character, as ownership data reveal. Just over 68% of the farm households in both counties own their farms; approximately 25% are part-owners in both counties, and the remaining 6% are tenants. Regarding the organization that runs the farm, both counties are dominated by "individual" and ""family" farms. Approximately 83% of the farms in both counties are owned by. individuals and/or families; close to 9% are in partnerships and the remainder are in corporate holdings or institutional ones. Major corporate holdings include large timber company tracts of 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 $40,000, which makes them small by the definition used by many farm agencies.
Table 1. Numbers of Farms by Farm Sales Class, 1978.
Sales Class Suwannee Columbia
No.Farm % of No.Farm % of Sold total Sold total $100,000+ 117 10.3% 32 5.4%
40-99,999 115 10.1 46 7.8
20-39,999 132 11.6 56 9.5
5-19,999 328 28.8 151 25.7
<4,999 446 39.2 303 51.5
Source: U.S. Census of Agriculture, 1979.
Major Production Enterprises
Crop enterprises generating the most agricultural income in both Suwannee and Columbia counties include tobacco, corn, and more recently, soybeans and wheat. Of these crops, tobacco dominates. Wheat and soybeans continue to gain in importance. The second highest income producer is poultry. Vegetable production ranks third in Suwannee, and fifth in Columbia. Cattle production is fourth in Suwannee but third in Columbia. Other livestock (mainly hogs) are ranked fifth and fourth respectively (Gordon and Mulkey 1977). Timber production is being encouraged in the region and many farmers are presently taking advantage of A.S.C.S. credit to plant pines.
While these statistics indicate enterprise value, they say little about numbers of farm units participating in each enterprise. Poultry operations 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 white farms producing pasture and summer grains. These following statistics, collected for Suwannee County in 1982 by the extension office there, indicate the percentage distribution
of farm enterprises.
Table 2. Distribution of Enterprise Systems in
Suwannee County, 1982..
System type Percentage of Farms
tobacco only 7.0
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
In 1978, agriculture-remained the number one revenue producing sector in Suwannee, Government ranked first in Columbia with 30.3% of the total revenue. These figures obscure the true economic importance of agriculture because they do not measure importance of agriculture to the other industries.
Besides supplying town labor, farm households are sources
of seasonal employment to youth, elderly and those town laborers who cannot find full-time employment. Working on a farm teaches. useful agricultural and mechanical skills which are not likely to be obtained in traditional academic educational settings.
These observations further do not measure other exchanges of great economic value. These include social support such as health care and provisioning, gardening, exchange of produce, reciprocal labor and equipment exchanges, land sharing, kin credit loans, and unreported income from roadside sales, to name the most important ones. -These activities take place to some degree on virtually every farmstead in the region.
If political statements are a valid basis for assessing farming's importance to an-economy, then the 1982 election rhetoric indicates that farm households in.the region are its "lifeblood." Farmers commonly win election to county commission and-school board seats, and their interests importantly guide development policy.
In conclusion, agriculture continues to have a major social and economic influence on the region. Many activities of importance to the local community, such as the county fairs, the 4-H and Future Farmers of America clubs, church gatherings and family get-togethers, have agricultural bases. Many rural industries depend upon a farmer clientele. Extended'families in the rural areas support each other with aid, food exchanges and care when someone is ill. These observations justify research and extension activities oriented towards farmers in the region.
FARMING SYSTEMS: CLIENTELE AND PROBLEMORIENTED RESEARCH OF THE FSR/E TEAM
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE NORTH FLORIDA FSR/E PROJECT
The North Florida FSR/E Project has a history dating to the late 1970s, with interest in the approach among some administrators in IFAS extending back to the early 1970s. It was in these early years that International Programs in IFAS, under the leadership of Hugh Popenoe, began to develop a strong interdisciplinary focus.
Certain key individuals, later to play roles in developing
farming systems at Florida, were already involved in interdisciplinary work in developing countries. There, they made their initial connections with one another. Peter Hildebrand, an agricultural economist, worked with Chris Andrew, also trained in economics, in Colombia on a University of Nebraska contract. Andrew later moved into International Programs as assistant director to Hugh Popenoe. Both helped in bringing Hildebrand and farming systems to Florida. Hildebrand first made contact with Edwin French in El Salvador, on a project directed by the University of Florida. French, then serving as a Peace Corps volunteer, was trained in horticulture and agronomy and was to become the North Florida Project's team administrator. He and Hildebrand experimented with multicropping systems in El Salvador which later became widely used in the region.
In the mid-1970s, Hildebrand joined the Rockefeller Foundation and moved on to ICTA, in Guatemala, where he pioneered the Sondeo and other farming systems techiques. There he worked with Romiro Ortiz, an agronomist at ICTA, who was later to come to Florida to work. on his doctoral degree. French had meanwhile returned from El Salvador to obtain his doctoral degree at Texas A and M, then went to Bolivia, under a Florida contract. Around the same time (late 1970s), Marilyn Swisher, trained in geography and soils science and who was one of Popenoe's students, began research at CATIE, in Costa Rica, where she associated with Francisco Romero, an animal scientist who also was to come to Florida to obtain his doctorate.
This was the state of affairs when Florida initiated
establishment of a farming systems project in the late 1970s. In December, 1979, Hildebrand, still with the Rockefeller Foundation, arrived at Florida to discuss farming systems with IFAS faculty and prepare to teach a course on the subject while on Sabbatic leave. Hildebrand was asked by IFAS administrators to develop a domestic and international farming systems program
for Florida. The International Programs faculty submitted a white paper to the administration in January, 1980, supporting the establishment of a farming systems project at Florida. The paper represented a summary of thinking about "how Florida might capture experience from international work with small farmers to address the State's concerns for this client group as well as for low energy systems" using a farming systems approach. Departments expressing interest in development of such a project included Agronomy, Anthropology, Animal Science, Entymology and Nematology, Food and Resource Economics, Forestry, Vegetable Crops and Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
Hildebrand taught his course in farming systems methodology during Spring, 1980. George Clough, Dwight Schmidt and James Dean, who later played key roles in the administration and/or operation of the North Florida Project, were in the class. A preliminary Sondeo (survey) of Alachua County farms was performed by the class,, providing evidence for the effectiveness of the method. Meanwhile, Live Oak Agricultural Research Station was mentioned as a possible research base for work in north Florida, where small farms were known to be numerous.
By April, 1980, major components of a farming systems project at Florida were tentatively identified by involved faculty. They included: 1) a Domestic FSR/E Project, working on problems of small farmers, scarce resource problems and energy technologies which affect commercial producers and smaller ones alike; 2) an international training center teaching students and visiting administrative and planning personnel how to conduct FSR/9 work, and providing consultancy to governments and development agencies; 3) involvement in international projects, including teaching FSR/E courses in foreign countries.
During the following summer, Art Hansen coordinated a
full-scale survey of Alachua County's smaller scale farmers, expanding upon Hildebrand's class' farming systems work. During this time, department chairmen Charles Dean (Agronomy), Don Maynard (Vegetable Crops) and Leo Polopolous (FRED) agreed to the FSR/E Project concept in a formal memorandum to Vice-President of Agricultural Affairs Tefertiller, Dean of Extension Woeste, and Dean of Research Wood, provided budgetary problems could be negotiated. They proposed that Hildebrand coordinate the domestic FSR/E Project, joined by Edwin French, then working in Bolivia. The FSR/E domestic team would begin work in Alachua County, concentrating on problems such as vegetable marketing, intercropping systems, and minimum tillage systems. These areas were already of concern to the three departments. FSR/E would coordinate relationships between the supporting departments.
In October, 1980, Hildebrand offered a "Strategy for
Developing a Farming Systems Research and Extension Project in IFAS." The paper listed three objectives for a domestic FSR/E Project. They were "l) determine the appropriateness of FSR/E methodology to help solve problems of small, limited resource or 'left-behind' farmers under Florida (and U.S.) agricultural conditions; 2) to the extent the methodology can be changed to fit domestic conditions or improved for foreign locations,
modify the FSR/E procedures to make them more effective; 3) through technology generation or modification, help 'left-behind' farmers improve their farm operation by means which fit within their resource constraints and the available or modifiable infrastructure." Field trials could begin as early as February, 1981 should the project be approved, Fig. 1.
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doi g.uhee d.Iifernce ere lrdSuggeTe: 1)r/Eofersmimor
percetie oa pitted disciplnar (ersat (a 100
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7/ ?eve Track LIMil
Figure 1. Initial Noirth Florida FSR/E Team Programming Schedule.
Tne paper also discussed international farming systems work at Florida, including technical assistance to foreign projects and training to be conducted through Florida faculty.
USDA/OICD (William Hoofnagle, Don Fergusen) approved initial funding support for a domestic FSR/E Project at Florida shortly afterwards. (The funding was later extended to cover a three year period.) French then joined the project. By the end of October, during an administrative meeting, questions were raised as to how farming systems differs from what IFAS presently is doing. These differences were suggested: 1) FSR/E offers a more collective and interdisciplinary (versus a departmental/commodities) approach; 2) it offers better integration at the delivery point of technology to the farm; 3) it pays greater attention to social variables; and 4) it goes beyond farm management in that it considers technology and constraints of the system as variables to be addressed by research.. The point was underscored that the approach is not intended to change what IFAS is doing, but only to "zero in" on specific farm needs, especially those of small-scale farms.
An administrative decision followed to proceed with a survey of farms. Vice President Kenneth Tefertiller named Hildebrand as coordinator of the IFAS farming systems program in December, 1989, and appointed an administrative coordinating committee and a technical advisory committee. The former consisted of the deans for extension, research and resident instruction, and the latter of departmental chairpersons, headed by Chris Andrew. At this time, James Dean and George Clough were hired as core team members on USDA funds. A Pre-Sondeo was then conducted in a six county area of north Florida, after a decision to move the project out of Alachua County was made. Before the survey, a meeting was held in Live Oak with extension agents to familiarize them with the procedure and purposes of the survey. The counties surveyed included Jefferson, Hamilton, Union, Madison, Suwannee and Columbia. Because of the proximity of the latter two and prevalance of small farms there, they were selected to be the sites of an intensive Sondeo.
The Sondeo was conducted between June 18-July 27, 1981.
Approximately four 2-person teams averaged 3 days a week in the field surveying farms; a total of 66 interviews were conducted (Fig. 2). By July 29, a classification system of the farm households was completed, and major problems and constraints faced by them identified (see next section). It was September 1, 1981 when the team received word that the project would be funded by the State. Two weeks later, the FSR/E team produced its final Sondeo Report on Suwannee and Columbia County farming systems. The groundwork was laid to begin developing and testing alternative technologies for the identified clientele.
FSUJ! NORTH FLORIDA
W14 AT TRIALS
Figure 2. Map of North Florida FSR/E Research Area.
The Technical Advisory Committe of department chairmen reviewed the Sondeo and budget during the fall of 1981, providing input to the farming systems team and Administrative Coordinating Committee of the project.
The team began to distribute "Update" reports on its
activities to IFAS faculty shortly after research commenced. The first on-farm trials involved winter wheat. The first meeting the team held with farmers concerned the outcome of the wheat trials, and was conducted during June, 1982. Also in this month, the First Annual In-House Review occurred, providing the opportunity for extension agents and researchers to critique the team's efforts. By the fall of the first full year of research, the first graduate student thesis projects done with the team were completed. The team presented reports of its activities at the Florida Soils and Crop Sciences Annual Meetings in Tallahassee. Also in 1982, Florida became the lead institution in the Agency for International Development Farming Systems Support Project.
In January, 1983, Marilyn Swisher of the FSR/E team was appointed a multi-county agent, strengthening the team's connection with extension. Figure 2 summarizes these developments.
During July, 1983, a Second Annual Review was held, this time involving an external review team which recommended continuance of the FSR/E Project and further expansion.
An evaluation design of the project was approved in June, 1984, and evaluation procedures are planned to be initiated during the summer of 1984.
THE NORTH FLORIDA FSR/E CLIENTELE
Orientation Towards Small Scale Farmers
Administrators within IFAS encouraged the North Florida FSR/E team to orient its activities towards smaller scale, limited resource farm households. This orientation inherently paralleled farming system projects in many developing nations. Interest in small scale farm problems expressed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (OICD) and the State of Florida also further directed program focus on small farm sector.
The team has found it difficult to arrive at an
economic-based definition of the clientele, such as is used by federal agencies to separate farm classes. Farm size, measured in acreage and/or sales, did not necessarily separate farms in a useful manner for the team. Relying upon economic definitions of "small farms" excludes recognition of motivational and sociocultural factors and of inadequate technology available for smaller scale producers which influence observed agricultural practices by members of this class. Motivational, socioeconomic and technological factors associated with the FSR/E clientele are discussed below.
Prior to describing the clientele group, it is helpful to
identify those farmers with whom the team predominantly excludes
interacting with on a research basis. When the Sondeo was initially conducted, the team was uncertain about specific criteria distinguishing farms by scale in the region. Team members agreed to avoid contacting farms having large acreages as represented on plot maps, farms with numerous modern tobacco bulk barns, farms with large grain storage bins, large mechanical equipment and irrigation rigs, and farms which appeared to be of the "hobby" type. Today, any or all of the, following criteria exclude a farm operation from consideration as FSR/E "clientele": tobacco acreage exceeding 10 acres, peanut acreage exceeding 15 acres, total acreage farmed exceeding 400 acres, gross income exceeding $40,000 annually. In general, the team additionally avoids cattle producers with herds exceeding 200 head, grain producers capable of irrigating hundreds of acres, farmers with sizable acreages of specialty crops like watermelons and vegetables, "hobby farmers" and owners of small "ranchettes." In 1984, an estimated 600 farm households in Suwannee and Columbia counties could be included in the FSR/E clientele.
The characteristics descriptive of the clientele group in general include these:
--households whose members would prefer to farm full-time
but commonly must work off-farm to meet the needs of the family, which are primary;
--limited management ability due to shortage of time or other factors.
--access to capital and specifically capital flow is limiting.
--rely upon family labor in many instances, and wives are typically responsible for much of the farm work, especially record-keeping;
--view of farming dwells on the importance of the land (identity with and ownership of it). and of farming as a preferred lifestyle, rather than the farm as a business solely;
--while profit motivated, often choose strategies designed to assure maintenance of this lifestyle, ie. minimize risk of lossing farm, rather than maximize profit;
--make use of reciprocal exchanges with kin and neighbors;
--tend to operate mixed crop/livestock systems to create
more even yearly cash flow-and distribute risk..
--use older, low horsepower equipment, which has long since depreciated and is relatively easily repairable on farm;
--in most instances do not deal with futures markets, forward contracting, or crop -insurance (except on the most lucrative crops);
--possess little political clout and ability to alter market conditions.
The FSR/E team characterized the clientele on the basis of socioeconomic (social identity, race and length of residency in county) and production (enterprise mix) traits. Socioeconomic classification took precedence, because social and cul itural factors, particularly race and residency, clearly influenced production factors on these farms, such as access to land, labor and capital.
Socioeconomic classification broke down as follows: 86.4% of the original sample had been on the farm two or more generations and/or had social (principally marital) ties to established farm households and local networks. These networks provided them with access to land and other resources, and gave them identity -- i.e., they "fit into" the traditional Southern rural communities. The team classified them as "old-line."
The remaining 13.6% were classified as "recentlyestablished" 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 sample, and based on county statistics are overrepresented in this--class. Swisher, based on discussions with-local agents and additional farm household contacts over the last three years, estimates they may actually represent only about 10% of the clientele. Most of the farmers had mixed crop/livestock systems; blacks had a higher proportion of crop-dominated systems and whites a higher proportion of livestock-dominated systems.
Crop systems were dominated by cash grain production, with individual farms raising combinations of tobacco or peanuts, watermelons, and/or vegetables. Mixed systems were dominated by grain/swine or grain/cattle systems. The major grain component of these systems was corn, though wheat has come to be an. important grain component in recent years. Livestock systems primarily were cow/calf operations, with genetically-mixed herds.
Vegetables, raised primarily for home use, were found on
76% of the surveyed farms; corn, which was both sold and used as feed, was found on 76% of the farms; and hogs were found on 58% of the farms. See Table 3.
Table 3. Classification of Clientele Sampled
in the 1981 Sondeo.
Farm Unit Type Number Percent
Old-Line 57 86.4
White 31 47
--Crop 1 1.5
--mixed 19 28.8
--livestock ii 16.7
Black 26 39.4
--crop 11 16.7
--mixed 13 19.6
--livestock 2 3.1
Recently-Est'd 9 13.6
White 9 13.6
--crop 3 4.5
--mixed 3 4.5
--livestock 3 4.5
The following traits distinguish between the farms on the basis of socioeconomic differences. These are general differences. Many newer farm units were established on the basis of one major enterprise, such as grain, hogs, or cattle, requiring heavy initial investments. Their members tend to be better educated than old-line farm household members, and to have spent more time in urban places and positions. However, many children in old-line households are leaving the farm to obtain an education and employment until they can come back to the farm and either take over its management or purchase land for themselves.
Table 4. Selected Characteristics of "Recently
Established" and "Old-Line" farmers.
(Adapted from Sondeo, 1981.)
Characteristics Old-Line Recently Established
networks strong weak
land frequently open market purinherited or chases; av. holding
purchased from 196 ac.
holding 184 ac.
labor/ family labor; hired labor;
equipment more assured -uncertain availavailability; availability; purchase
own/share equipt. or hire equipt.
capital low cash flow high cash flow
low indebtedness high indebtedness land as collateral;
informal loan -institutionalized loan
The data presented above-have been verified by extension
agents and continued research in the region. The initial survey established the existence of a clientele who desired to farm butfaced 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.
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 a parameter value which needs to be identified. The Sondeo identified the existence of a number of problems faced by the clientele. Many cut across all three classifications of production systems, while some were. restricted to one type. The major problems included:
--rising costs o'f fertilizers;. (poor soil fertility prevails across all production systems)
--erosion, caused by strong winds in Spring and loose topsoil conditions (crop, mixed systems)
--market difficulties, including variable or low prices, and limited outlets, (all production systems)
--difficulties in obtaining credit because of other
restrictions, e.g., bank policies requiring the farmer to have crop insurance before making a loan, ridig production guidelines or land which is tied up in heirs estate and cannot be used as collateral (all production systems)
--insufficient or even annual cash flow (particularly crop systems)
--poor quality of labor (primarily crop systems)
--lack of alternative crops to corn, tobacco; lack of a stable grain crop (primarily crop, mixed systems)
--high costs of winter pasture and feed supplement (mixed, livestock systems)
--management time (all production systems)
--poor access to and/or knowledge about appropriate information and its sources (all production systems)
--unpredictable character of federal legislation regarding allotment systems, credit, market price supports and pesticide use (particularly crop systems)
--lack of sufficient grain production to meet year-round on-farm feed requirements (mixed, livestock systems)
--lack of high quality forage throughout the year.
--disease and insect damage, including high populations of
nreratodes in soil (crop, mixed systems)
Talks with extension agents supplemented this list to include:
--livestock breeding and pest problems (mixed, livestock systems)
--difficulties in understanding soil fertilization recommendations (crop, mixed systems)
--problems with fertilization timing and rates (crop, mixed systems)
--lack of good and/or inexpensive veterinary services,
leading farmers to experiment with treatments (mixed, livestock systems)
--high parasitism and infant mortality rates among hogs, due to poor facil-ities 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 th-e 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 usid here refers to any condition or practice which limits the achievement of some goal.
Two major endogenous constraints were identified management, time and capital.
Management time is a constraint because most members of the clientele have off-farm employment, or rely upon the labor of family members who cannot devote full time to the farm. The steady and higher wages offered by town employment draws youth away; black youth particularly leave the rural area. The consistency of town wages makes dependency upon such income critical for many. households. The diversity of enterprises likewise places seasonally excessive demands on management time.
These conditions may interfere with the abi 'lity to obtain and process information about farming and the household.
Capital is a constraint because the farm households must. make monetary decisions on the basis-of meeting family needs rather than maximizing farm profit. That is, they make decisions designed to avoid high risk and consequent debt, and to provide income consistent with household demand throughout the year. Many spend only if they have cash "on hand." Cash transactions are preferred, because money represents immediate payment, and/or because bank-like transactions are neither trusted (they signify formal debt)* nor understood.
Despite the preference to avoid excessive debt, debt is a problem on most farms. One reason is the lack of records and consequent ignorance of actual cash flow through the year. Record keeping tends to be done only for the most lucrative crops. Farm expenses are not separated from household expenses in most households.
Another reason relates to federal credit policies and land values. Increasing land values, the result of migration into the region, improved the collateral farm households used towards obtaining low interest disaster loans offered by the government in the,1970s. Land prices are now dropping, and farm businesses and the government, realizing the severity of over indebtedness are raising interest rates and in cases reducing repayment periods. Private banks, once the primary lenders to farmers, are removing themselves from loaning to this high risk group or restricting loans to the larger, 'more credit-worthy' farm 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, which has a lower labor requirement. Land is not a constraint for old-line farm units, but is for new farmers who pay full market value for it. Land is usually inherited within established farm families or purchase arrangements made at low interest rates and long term payback periods. Land and cattle are a major source of collateral for all farmers.
Two major types of exogenous constraints were identified 1) soils, with poor native soil fertilit y, low pH, and associated low moisture holding capacity; and 2) infrastructural (largely market) limitations.
The region as a whole suffers from poor native soil
fertility and low pH. The soils consist primarily of sands with scattered pockets of clay. Drought occurs in early summer and late fall, and spring winds additionally cause erosion. The presence of a plow pen is common to many farms resulting in shallow root systems. This problem exacerbates the effects of drought and effectively lowers crop yield. During rainy
periods, nutrients are quickly. leached from the soils. Micronutrient deficiencies is not uncommon. Farmers are thus faced with heavy fertilization in order to achieve yields equivalent to 1/2 to 1/3 the yield common to the Midwest. Considering only fertilizer and fuel costs which have risen dramatically over the past decade and variable market prices, the profit margin is extremely slim when compared to midwest farms.
The infrastructural constraints are varied. There are
limited vegetable market opportunities; local market demand is easily saturated by local production forcing farmers to distant markets. The recent changes in the tobacco and peanut allotment systems (the latter was eliminated) and changes in grading and marketing policies have tended to force small farm households out of these enterprises. Livestock markets are unstable and given limited sources of animal feed, it is risky to initially invest in livestock. Volume sales enables the Midwest to dominate grain and livestock markets, determining the market price feedstuffs cost. This has a dominating influence on expected net profit of a Florida livestock producer. Finally, credit tends to be extended on the basis of whether farmers follow recommended practices designed to achieve maximum yields, rather than practices to assure some returns given the constraints just described.
Constraints may interact with one another. For example, exogenous constraints have further constrained management. Droughts during recent years have made it difficult for a farmer to decide when to plant and fertilize. Part time farmers must take advantage of free time to perform a particular management practice with the risk of failure because the time was not opportune, e.g. planting in a dry period. Other farmers, not so constrained, will plant over a period of time so that at least part of the crop makes. Infrastructural conditions affect both management and capital constraints. Federal legislation has periodically changed credit policies, for example, and farm policy has delayed when markets open and consequently left farm household members guessing as to what, when and how much to plant.
Table 5.Farm Strategies Employed in Meeting
Problems and Constraints.
Management -low-management livestock systems
of resources -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 income activities
-obtain off-farm employment
-delay making repairs
-sell land, if not in use, at urban values
Drought/ -space plantings over time
Compaction -lower plant population
-employ different varieties with varying drought tolerance traits
-withhold fertilizer until crop is established
-reduce cultivation to conserve moisture
-alter planting date
-try new cultivars or crops
Need for -try new crops
Fertility -wait until crop is established to fertilize
to reduce risk of poor weather or failure to establish; reduces leaching losses since establishment assures better use of nutrients
Need for -try new crops
Supplemental -utilize native forages to cut expenses Forages -reduce herd size if constrained
Implications of Survey Results
These findings led the FSR/E team to select certain
problems for research and to delay work on or exclude others. Delayed work and exclusions were based upon estimations that
alternative solutions for the particular problem could not be achieved in a timely fashion, and/or required additional support not immediately available to the team. The problems the team excluded were the following:
--alternative vegetable markets and, 'relatedly, vegetable technologies, The team lost its only vegetable specialist. during the second year. Market problems need to be worked out before new technologies would be acceptable in the region. The team is sharing information with the 1890s agents in the two counties who work with vegetable producers. (Note: Observations since 1981 indicate increasing interest among clientele members in vegetables. Many planted small acreages the products of which were sold at roadside stands.and local markets. Work in this area should be considered in the future.)
--general grain and livestock market conditions. For the time being, the team is seeking alternatives which are feasible within the region's present market structure.
--changes in the allotment systems. Small farmers are getting out of peanut and tobacco production anyway.
--labor quality. This is not problematic for many family farmers who use family labor.
--federal market and credit policies. The team at present has little experience or influence in these areas.
--pests and diseases. The team has avoided working on
pesticides but is investigating more disease resistant crops. Farmers do not commonly use pesticides on their agronomic crops.
The team summarized the needs of the clientele into "short" and long" range research objectives.. Short range objectives are those which could be addressed immediately, while long range required further research or depended upon external changes made in the market or agricultural policy sectors. This summarization follows.
Table 6. Identified Short and Long Range
Objectives of the FSR/E Program.
Short Range Long Range
reduce inputs new crops for area
cash flow management new markets
alternatives to energy- new forage systems
attack hardpan problems vegetable systems
intercropping systems rotation systems
N-fixing crops N-fixing crops
information transfer improve overall transfer
The Sondeo helped to identify existing production
strategies which should be incorporated into the team's research activities. Knowledge of existing practices allowed the team to do two things: 1) focus on alternative technologies that are appropriate considering present practices and constraints; and 2) compare cost and managerial factors of traditional to proposed innovative practices. listed below are several types of activities undertaken by the team.
--examinations of variable times of planting and
fertilization,including single versus multiple fertilizations (Used in the small grains trials.)
--examinations of variable fertilizer rates, especially N, K, S, and microelements
--examination of liming practices
--determining the degree to which alternative winter grains could be grazed, such as is done with rye and oats
--compare tropical corn to traditional corn
--using low horsepower tractor for subsoiling
The Sondeo led the team to identify five major problem
areas to be researched. They are management, soil compaction, grain crops, fertilization requirements, and forage crops. The general kinds of alternatives which the FSR/E team initially considered under each specific problem area are described below. Actual research projects initiated since 1981 are listed following the discussion of alternatives under "FSR/E Research."
PROBLEM: The fact that many members of the clientele group work off-farm means that management time is a constraint. It may be
the single most limiting constraint, especially if other family members likewise have limited time to devote to farmwork.
ALTERNATIVES: Proposed alternatives needed to reduce or simplify management time and activities if possible, or make existing management more efficient. Efforts have been made to find ways of reducing management and assessing management effects on yield for traditional crops. New alternative enterprises have similiarly been investigated by the team because*of their potential for reducing the overall management demands.on the farmer.
FSR/E Related Research: farm budgets; time of planting and fertilization trials on winter grains; fertilization trials in doublecropping systems; perennial peanut
PROBLEM: Cash inputs are a constraint. Farmers presently tend to be overborrowed (many from disaster loans) against land prices which are beginning to decline. Many do not prepare enterprise budgets and consequently ar not aware of the extent to which they are losing or making money per enterprise. Income tends to be concentrated in the summer with major cash outlays in the spring and fall. Predicting and planning to meet cash flow needs are difficult.
ALTERNATIVES: Developed simplified budget forms for farmers to use. Efforts are being made to determine where input costs can be cut in order to meet economical, rather than biological, optimums of production on new and traditional crops. Alternative crops that require less capital inputs and distribute cash flow to other times of the year are being investigated.
FSR/E Related Research: Farm budgets; economics of wheat grazing; fertilization trials on winter grains, summer crops; perennial peanut
Drought and Soil Compaction
PROBLEM: Drought has been problematic in the region for years. The late spring especially is dry, and corn faces a 40% chance of drought induced stress (Renner 1982). Sandy soils do not retain moisture. Drought induced corn crop failure is a majr problem. Renner (1982) shows that there is a 40% probability of drought induced cron crop failure for corn planted in Feb. and Marc. Yet, farmers are forced to fo to earlier plantings because typical hybrid will not withstand insect pressure and weed competition when planted later.
ALTERNATIVES: Two potential solutions to this problem have been considered. One is to find crops which fit into the needs of the farm but which are not grown during traditional periods of
low rainfall. The other is to find a means of improving the substrate's ability to retain moisture, such as by using a ground cover crop.
FSR/E RELATED RESEARCH; tropical corn, winter grain trials; perennial peanut
PROBLEM: There is a hardpan layer found at a depth between 12-14" on many farms in the region. This hardpan effectively prohibits roots from reaching soil moisture below this layer during the early summer dry period. Compaction from equipment enhances this problem.
ALTERNATIVES: Two potential solutions to this problem have been investigated: cultural practices involving the use of an inexpensive, low horsepower "home-made" subsoiler rig, and agronomic crops capable of penetrating the hardpan because of their powerful and long tap roots.
FSR/E Related Research: subsoiling practices on corn; alternative crops
Need for Grain Crops
PROBLEM: The prevalence of livestock on these farms means grain crops are a key component of the system. Cash grains have also been major staple enterprises in crop systems. Traditional corn was the most widely used cash grain and livestock feed source, and had the advantage of multiple use: sale, storage, animal feed. Droughts, rising production costs, national overproduction and diseases have made farmers wary of raising corn.
ALTERNATIVES: Two possibilities were identified by the team: 1) alternative summer grain crops that were more drought tolerant and/or were planted during period with greater rainfall but had the multiple use functions of corn; 2) winter grain crops which could be followed by a summer crop. Winter grains would not face the drought, disease and insect problems that summer crops do.
FSR/E Related Research: 1) alternative grains and forage crops: amaranth; pigeon pea; tropical corn; consideration was given to sorghum; corn overseeding into perennial peanut 2) winter wheat for forage and/or grain; winter wheat time of planting and fertilization trials; winter grain (wheat, oats, triticale) variety trials; winter grain overseeding into perennial peanut
PROBLEM: Fertilization problems in Florida include the need to apply high levels of N nd K additionally, micronutrient deficiencies may exist. There is a need to determine the most economical time and rate of application of N d K many new crops appearing in the region. Recommendations for traditional crops may also be uneconomical and perhaps could be changed.
ALTERNATIVES: Instead of recommending fertilization practices which achieved the highest yield, research was focused upon determining fertilization practices more in line with the region's biophysical constraints and farmers' capital and managerial limitations. Work has involved examining major elements (N, P, K, S) as well as micronutrients (particularly Mn, Zn).
FSR/E Related Research: wheat fertilization trials -- timing of N and K application, micronutrient trials; wheat-soybean doublecrop fertilization trials; wheat N and K rate trials; nutrient recycling and small grain overseeding in perennial peanut and recently initiated work with hairy indigo.
Need for Forage Crops
PROBLEM: Forage costs continue to rise in the region, related to fertilizer expenses. In the typical cow-calf operation forage is the major expense.
ALTERNATIVES: High quality but low cost forages are desired. There have been two alternatives researched: 1) forages and forage systems that additionally provide a grain crop; 2) forages that do not yield grain but are very low cost once established.
FSR/E Related Research: 1) winter wheat; small grains overseeded into perennial peanut; winter grain variety trials 2) perennial peanut; 3) overseeding trials into grass pastures
4.) hairy indigo grass mixed pasture.
The biophysical and economic "marginality" of the research region severely affects agriculture. Yet the economic and social importance of farming to the local economies is significant. We can expect farmers to employ a variety of strategies in trying to maintain a farmstead, from exploring new crop alternatives to reducing expenses wherever possible to
mixing farming with town employment. In reality, full time farmig is not now nor is it apt to be an alternative for the vast majority of these farmers. A successful program however should be defined as one that provides alternatives within the framework of the part-time farm. Such alternatives must be economical of management time. Today, off-farm income often goes to support the farm. On the future, hopefully, the farm # will itself make a positive contribution to family income.
A short-term solution to farm problems involves reducing
management time and capital demands. Unless a truly profitable enterprise system is developed however, farmers wilt continue to rely upon non-farm income sources. This expectation leads to this conclusion: there is a need for integrated agricultural and urban-industrial development. Already, the Chambers of Commerce in the region are seeking to attract light-scale industry. The appearance of such industry would probably help to stabilize land values, allow younger people to remain on or obtain a farm, and develop local markets for such potentially lucrative crops as vegetables.
Where IFAS can fit in regarding the promotion of integrated development should be considered.
Tables 10 and 11 summarize the types of research activities which have been or are being conducted by the North Florida FSR/E team, relating them in the first table to the problems/constraints addressed, and in the second to the enterprise systems most likely to benefit from the research.
TABLE 10. Problems and Constraints Addresses by the Research Foci of the Farming Systems Research and Extension Program, 1981-1984.
Research Manage- Drought/ Altern. Soil
focus ment Capital Conpaction Grains Fert. Disease A/C/Q*
Enterp records x x
Grains** x x x
Trop. corn x x
Planting time x
Wheat grazing x x x x
Variety trials x x x x
Wheat-N,K x x x
Microelements x x
Doublecropping x x x
Establishment x x x x x
Interc. x x x x
Interc. x x x
Weed Control x x
Learning Curve x x
Nutrient Recyc x
Cattle Manag. x x
Market Altern. x
*: Availability, Cost, Quality
**: Includes Amaranth, Pigeon Pea, Millet and Alyceclover
TABLE 11: Types of Productibon Systems Benefitting from the Research Foci Efforts of the Farming Systems Research and
RESEARCH FOCUS CROP MIXED LIVESTOCK
Enterprise Records x x x
Subsoiling x x
New Forages, Grains x x x
Time of Planting x x x
Wheat Grazing x x
Variety Trials x x z
Wheat-N,K x x x
Microelements x x x
Doublecropping x x
Establishment x x
Winter Intercrop x x
Summer Intercrop x x
Weed Control x x
Learning Curve x
Nutrient Recycling x x
Information x x x
Cattle Management x x
Market Alternatives x x
DISCUSSION of RESEARCH RESULTS
How well has the North Florida Farming Systems Project rapidly but accurately identified problems faced by its clientele?. How successfully have its research efforts addressed these problems? How well has the approach generated truly "systemic" research designs?
The FSR/E team has had 3 years of feedback regarding its efforts from farmers, county agents, IFAS research scientists, local advisory committees, and internal and external review teams. The concensus of these groups is that the program has rapidly and fairly accurately identified a number of key problems faced by the clientele, and moved to find alternative technologies.
Columbia county agent William Thomas reported in April, 1984, that the FSR/E team generated research which otherwise would not have been conducted in the region. The advisory committee of multicounty agent Marilyn Swisher commented in March, 1984, that in general, the FSR/E work was reaching important conclusions about winter grains and tropical corn. The committee members were interested in the longer-term results from the fertility trials, and desired more record-keeping activities, including training in using records. The only research thrust the committee did not strongly support involved perennial peanut.
The FSR/E approach complements existing research and extension efforts by investigating "systemic" solutions to clientele problems. A "systemic" solution is one which is adjusted and relevant to the felt needs, resources and practices characteristic of a particular farming system. This is sometimes called "adaptive research." Commodity research and systems research are complementary. The value of the systems approach is that it increases the utility and probability of adoption of commodity research by making sure that such research is designed to meet systems needs. Alternatively, no farming systems project can move forward without sound commodity research.
As indicated previously, during the discussion of clientele problems and constraints, alternative solutions proposed by the
FSR/E team in north Florida typically had to meet several criteria imposed by the biophysical and infrastructural environments of the region and America's agroindustrial structure. For instance, in cases proposed technologies had to meet conditions of drought-tolerance, low management and available markets. Moreover, the diversity of enterprises common to clientele farms meant that enterprise interrelationships needed to be considered if a systemic solution was to be achieved.
It was also indicated that the major agronomic needs -of the clientele included finding. alternatives to traditional corn, and providing data on managerial practices specific to the region for newly-introduced grain and forage crops. Additionally, techniques for or crops which avoided drought conditions were desired. Finally, an overall need was to find ways of aiding these households to "survive" on the farm, through reducing inputs or improving management time and resource use efficiency.
The FSR/E team proposed initial examination of 9 major research foci. Figure 5 diagrams how these research efforts
-were systemically linked to one another. As the figure exemplifies, RECORD KEEPING connects to every research activity. Records provide the team with managerial and economic data. Farm data can be compared to researcher-managed trial results, and over time, the records can serve as measures of farm household aceptability of new technologies. Records are important sources for discovering farmer strategies for avoiding risk.
The two major thrusts of the North Florida Program have been towards grain and livestock studies. Because of the prevalence of mixed systems in the region, the team has sought enterprises which provide multiple uses, or fit into integrated crop-animal enterprise operations.
For example, WHEAT and related WINTER GRAINS have been
examined in terms of both grain production and forage-grain use. They have been considered in both monocrop and doublecrop systems, and in conventional and mulch (INTERCROPPING/PERENNIAL PEANUT-)- systems. NEW GRAINS AND FORAGES and TROPICAL CORN have been subjected to similar treatments.
The diversity within the clientele suggested multiple uses would be made of these various crops and the FSR/E team had to consider a range of management practices. Principal interests involved fertilization (timing, rates and types), especially on new crops (SOYBEANS, WINTER GRAINS), SUBSOILING (with summer grains), and time and methods of planting. CATTLE MANAGEMENT studies are just underway.
The primary objective of these trials is to generate a series of suggestions or recommendations reflecting the different types of uses made of a particular technology (i.e., "recommendation domains"). Thus, for instance, suggested wheat management practices for cropping operations, where wheat is grown for grain and perhaps doublecropped as well, will differ from suggestions made for mixed systems, where wheat will be grazed.
50YBEANs WHEAT (GRAIN) a ** PERENNIAL PEANUT
~Leam V -Establishment
-Learning curve -Method of olantin -N Cycling"
-Fertilization -Variety trials Hericides
-Fertilization -Method of planting (N, K, Micros) -Feedinq trials
* -Variety trials..
I -Variety trialsI*
-Tim of planting '' I !
-Insecticide Control (Grain) (Sraze) INTERCROPPI!G
-Time of planting -Time of olantinq I-Sentoria ctrl. -Sentoria ctrl. .(Winter) (Suner4
* -trazing intensity
-Other foraese. wheat
. -rye NEW GRAILS AND FORAGES
- -- Subsoil .Amaranth 44illet CATTLE fNAGEMENT
- -Pigeon Pea -Sorghum .. Multi-use -Alyceclover -Control grazing using gate
"s -Ear tags /
Figure 5. Interrelationships of Research Foci, North Florida, FSR/E Program, 1981-1984
FSR/E is an expensive methodology during initial years.
The success of farming systems approaches is ultimately measured by how many members of 'the clientele adopt generated technology. This includes the need to measure how farmers themselves come to understand and use scientiEic methods to test new technologies. As has been suggested, successful generation of technology hypothetically results from rapid and accurate identification of problems and rapid, simplified but scientific "fine-tuning" of research designed to meet these problems under specific conditions of the farming systems 4n question. At this point, it is possible to summarize the research results achieved by the North Florida FSR/E team, to indicate how rapidly they were achieved, and to indicate expected acceptancy of the proposed alternatives by the clientele. The IFAS Extension Evaluation Unit will be conducting an evaluation of the program during 1984-87, in which adoption rates among the clientele will be measured.
RESEARCH RESULTS SINCE 1981 AND EXPEE ACCEPTANCY
Enterprise Records: simplified record books were made
available the first year, and have since been modified. After 3 years, the team is organizing record management education sessions in the counties under the direction of Dr. Swisher. Pressures to provide farm records by credit agencies should enhance clientele interest in learning to use these record books. Families with members in Future Farmers of America and vocational agriculture are more likely to use records or be amenable to. learning about them than are older farm families, but perhaps with expanded educational programs, acceptance will increase.
Dr. Swisher is coordinating her educational efforts with
farm women in the region, many of whom do the record-keeping for the farm and household.
Subsoil'ing: a simple, effective subsoiler was made the first year, and since modified. It is undergoing further evaluation by an agricultural engineer. The subsoiler has great potential for use in planting summer grains. Suct.ssful demonstration of its utility on corn trials should enhance clientele interest in it. Those with cropping systems and mechanical ability capable of constructing one are most likely to adopt it.
New Forage and Grain Crops: trials in the region quickly determined major biological problems with each of the new alternatives. Basic research has been initiated on the more promising alternatives, namely, alyceclover, sorghum and pigeon pea.
Tropical Corn: successful efforts in the Hastings, Fla. area growing tropical corn prompted -the FSR/E team to initiate its research on tropical corn in the Suwannee Columbia County area. The farmer interest and suggestions that resulted from the first year of station and farm trials with tropical corn led to an amplified program in 1984, including cultivar comparison, planting date, insect, subsoiling and fertility studies. Experimental sites which include farms as well as the station provide for rapid evaluation of the corn under diverse environments. Appropriate managerial practices for tropical corn should be confiriaed by 1986. Because of its-resistance to weevil damage, acceptability should be high among those who raise traditional corn and particularly those who store it on farm.
Winter Grains: (GRAIN) many of the questions raised by farmers and extension agents concerning management of grain have been answered after 3 years of research. Especially important to achieving these results with high confidence levels have been the wide sources of data used: farm records, grain studies in mulch and no-mulch sod, and fertility studies. The past 3 years have validated planting date, variety and nitrogen level recommendations, both for wheat which is grazed and not grazed. By 1984, questions about timing of fertilization and microelement additions should be sufficiently answered for the cultivars being used. As new varieties are introduced, they are subjected-to research in the region.
Wheat is increasingly being adopted by clientele members and a majority of them are expected to utilize these research findings. Significantly, larger winter grain producers in the region should also benefit from these efforts.
(GRAZING) the question was raised by farmers during the first year as to whether or not wheat could be grazed followed by grain production. Research was immediately intiated to answer this question. The first year's grazing data indicated that wheat can be grazed for up to 6 weeks without significantly affecting grain yield. These results have proven to be consistent over the past 3 years. Wheat grazing recommendations were made in 1983. New grains, like triticale and oats, and improved wheat cultivars, are subjected to grazing trials as they are introduced.
Since wheat seed prices have dropped, it is expected
that clientele who traditionally graze rye may add wheat to their grazing management, especially as wheat becomes more popular in the region. Higher management demands may retard rates of adoption, however.
Fertilization Studies: S deficiencies on wheat were noted in 1981. Based on demonstration ard research activities a recommendation of 20#/acre S was established in 1983. Nitrogen levels of 80#/acre on cultivar Fl.301 was validated from trials by 1982. Farmer questions regarding residual fertilizer in doublecropping systems led to research on N and K levels required in such systems, and microelement (Mn, Zn) studies. This research has potential benefit to all farmers in the region, who similiarly share heavy fertilizer costs. The long-term nature of this research and certain field problems have delayed recommendations, but these are expected for wheat and soybeans by 1984-85.
The N and K studies should be widely acceptable because farmers are familiar with the need and cost of these elements. The cost of fertilizer is an incentive to adopt practices reducing the amount required, or which make more efficient use of fertilizer applications. Present funding on microelements indicate that significant yield increases occur on those sites with better environments. The wide spread application of micronutrients remains in question.
Perennial Peanut: this crop has been investigated in
Florida for over 20 years, and appears to have manydesirable qualities. A stand of perennial peanut had been established at the Live Oak Research Station 13 years earlier, and flourished-with little care. However, first year attempts to establish it on farm were generally unsuccessful. Immediate though not well integrated research began on weed control (a primary limiting factor to successful establishment), method of planting, seeding rate, intercropping and grazing. Recent research efforts have better integrated these efforts, and enabled the team to eliminate those which clearly hurt the peanut, like intercropping during the first year.
The high cost of initial establishment and problems in
the field have'discouraged interest in this crop by clientele members. It is-expected that only clientele who can afford to make the long-term investment required by this crop shall adopt it. At this point, winter and summer grain alternatives appear more promising than does the peanut. Recent trials have revealed that shallow planting depth increases plant stand. This combined with Arbrook can result in a 70-80% stand the 1st. yr..
Because of the long establishment time of the peanut, intercropping trials were initiated in-recently established stands to determine if farmers could make use of this land while the peanut was taking root. Summer corn intercrops failed in newly established stands because weed control was made difficult. Winter grain intercropping appears promising with both rye and wheat. Two years.' data suggest the peanut forage yield is lowered as nitrogen applied to the grains increases. Overseeding small grains increases annual forage
Investigation of new varieties is being pursued to
identify those best suited to the region. Corn produced in association in an established perennial peanut stands produced 5 times more forage than corn alone. However, corn grains .production was reduced 1.1/2 to 3 times when grown in association.,
Information Studies: it became evident during the first year's Activities with clientele that certain problems existed regarding how information is obtained and understood by them. Certain of these difficulties related to the educational levels of clientele families; many clientele expressed confusion over how to interpret soil tests and similar technical documents; pamphlets produced by IFAS contained so many facts that clientele expressed difficulties in determining which ones were most significant. Extension sources were typically underutilized as contrasted to larger scale farm households and-hobby farmers.
Beginning in 1982, the FSR/E team developed multi-media presentations designed to express information in as many ways as possible: visual, audio, graphs,.etc. Dr. Swisher initiated programs and began to write articles for the local papers. Wheat findings have been printed in the popular Florida Grower and Rancher magazine. Beginning in 1984, Dr. Sw-isher developed a newsletter directed specifically to the clientele which discusses management strategies. Studies are planned over the next 3 years measuring the influence that various information transfer strategies have on the clientele, including the following: development of slide modules, displays at the county fair and other community gatherings, newsletters left at churches, post offices, feed and retail stores, and the like, radio shows, and of course, direct farm household contact.
Expected to help these studies are the data being collected presently by the students from Florida State University.
Cattle Management: 'while controlled grazing was
recognized as a problem by the team during the first year, the generality of the problem for the region was determined only recently. An agricultural engineer from ICRISAT is presently helping the team develop a solar-battery operated, pasture gate control mechanism which is being tested on farm.
NUMBERS OF COLLABORATORS
COLLABORATION: MEANING AND BENEFITS
FOR FARMING SYSTEMS APPROACHES
Collaboration between farm families, research scientists and extension agents is critical to, the success of farming systems approaches. Involving each of these actors in the process of identifying problems, searching for alternatives, testing and evaluating technology, and disseminating it theoretically achieves two things. They are 1) problems are identified with greater clarity and relevancy to actual farm conditions, and 2) more acceptable (to the farm unit) solutions are reached. Additionally, better cost efficiency is achieved through-speeding up the process-, including learning on the part of the clientele.
Working with farmers and scientists from other disciplines provides farming systems teams with a mechanism for rapidly generating and assessing information, and an arena for critically proposing and reviewing research strategies.
Achievement of collaboration must proceed on two levels. At the institutional level in the U.S., extension and research must be linked to address common problems. Resources must be shared across both domains in order to gain legitimization and the most efficient management of time, labor and information. Administrative support is crucial for obtaining funding at the state and national levels, and for politically justifying the approach. Ideally, extension agents and research scientist support should be sought from the start, and incorporated into annual planning and review sessions. Despite initial difficulties in linking extension and research to FSR/E, this is how the project proceeds at Florida.
The second level involves farm unit support, and is
achieved by working directly with farm unit members who are the clientele. Incorporating these members builds trust, furthers learning and enhances- adoption of new technologies.
Florida's project additionally benefitted from U.S.D.A. support and a political climate in Florida which had drawn attention to the needs of smaller scale, family farmers.
When the FSR/E project began its work in 1981, it relied upon a core group of 2 full-time IFAS appointed faculty and 2 individuals on U.S.D.A. funds. The core members were Dr. Peter Hilderbrand, an agricultural economist and former member of the
Rockefeller team at ICTA, Guatemala, and Dr. Edwin French, an agronomist. Both had farming systems experience. The U.S.D.A. appointments were to George Clough, vegetable crops, and James Dean, an anthropologist with a background in agricultural economics.
Graduate students working on research problems provided
additional support. They included an anthropologist, a soils, dairy scientist, 3 agronomists and 3 agricultural economists.
In 1983, Dr. Marilyn Swisher was appointed a multi-county extension agent. She supervises activities in the research counties. The U.S.D.A. provided support for a biologist from 1982-83. This position was filled by an agronomist.
A number of other graduate students joined the team
including some from geography and animal science. Since 1982, the team has had a number of graduate students successfully defend theses (1 in agronomy, 1 in geography, and 1 in food and resource economics) and dissertations (1-anthropology) based upon their work with the FSR/E effort. As of Spring, 1984, 4 other students (2 in agronomy, 1 in animal science and 1 in food and resource economics) are nearing completion of their research. 2 students from Florida State are conducting information transfer studies with the team at present. In sum, a total of 11 graduate level theses have been or are nearing completion which directly relate to farming systems activities in north Florida.
A number of special projects have been done by students working with the team. Topics have included the following: determination of environmental index for wheat trials, record keeping on corn and wheat, economic analysis of soybean fertilization practices, measures of physiological changes in wheat associated with grazing, determination of associations between farming systems and soil variations in the region, and planting depth and position of perennial peanut rhizome.
Students continue to approach the team about research
projects. The FSR/E effort has hired paraprofessionals in the research counties who aid with experiments and data collection.
Table 4. Faculty and Graduate Student Team Support,
Year Full Part USDA ANT FRE AGR ANISCI GEOG
1981 2 3 2 1 2 2 0 1.
1982 3 3 3 1 3 3 1 1
1983 3 0 2 1 3 3 1 0
1984(A) 3 1 0 0 4 2 1 0
(A) 2 students from Florida State University are working on the team. They are in the fields of adult education and communications.
Once research problems were identified during the 1981
-Sondeo, the team began to initiate experiments designed in conjunction with researchers and extension agents. During the 1982-83 budget year, the team had a total of 23 individual research projects.
Participating with the team in this research have been
approximately 20 IFAS research scientists and 9 extension agents from 5 counties. Major local regional support has come from Suwannee County extension agents Dr. William Smith, Merry Taylor and Phillip Rowan, Columbia County agents William Thomas and Rick Goff, and from Howard Smith, the district county extension director and FAMU technicians Morris Lester and Jimmy Shepperd. The Live Oak Agricultural Research Center, directed by Drs. Jim Rich and Ed White, has also been extensively involved with the project. The team has periodically drawn upon the knowledge and advice of personnel in the Food and Resource Economics Department (records and market studies), James Wershaw (agricultural law), and the Agricultural Engineering Department.
During the 1983-84 fiscal year, there are 14 research
scientists and 9 extension agents cooperating with the team in studies similiar to the 1982-83 year.
Research plans and extension activities are jointly planned by these individuals and team members, and submitted as cooperative efforts during the annual budget review.
Farm family collaboration is a fundamental part of farming systems. A Total of 66 farm households were contacted during the 1981 Sondeo, and since then team members have visited approximately 200 other farms of various size.
The following table presents data on the types of farm
households which have participated in various trials placed on farm in 1981-82, 1982-83, and 1983-84. A majority of these are located in Suwannee and Columbia counties; but some collaborators reside in Hamilton, Madison and Alachua counties. The latter have principally been involved in winter wheat, perennial peanut establishment and tropical corn trials.
Table 5. Collaborating Farmer Data, Listed-by On-Farm
OLD NEW OLD NEW
C M L C M L C M L C M L
wheat 81-82 8 1,
82-83 15 1
Alyeclover 82 1 1 1 1
Millet-pea 82 1
Trop. corn 83 2 1 2
84 4 4
Wheat 81-82 1
graze 82-83 1
83-84 1 (also Live Oak FFA chapter)
trials 83-84 2 2
K20 82-83. 4 1
micros 82-83 2 1
establish 82 3 4 1
(5 replant) 83* 1 5 3 1- 4 2
(1 replant) 84* 3 1 1 1 1
corn int. 82 2 1 1
wheat int 84 2
* represents new collaborators only, i.e., excludes replanted
In addition to these trials, 20 farmers kept rainfall
records for the team in 1982. 10 of these were old whiter 4 were new white, 6 were old black.
Table 6 lists the total monetary contributions which farm
households have made to on farm trials in 1983.
Table 6. Farmers' Monetary Contributions to On Farm
Trial Number Acreage Contribution(S) cost/acre
alyceclover 5 16 1,061.28 66.33
Pig. pea/millet 1 2.2 226.57 102.99
Trop. corn 5 25 3,372.75 134.91
Triticale 1 2.5 264.35 105.74
Wheat grazing 1 4.5 322.16 71.59
fertility 7 5 1,650.87 344.34 (a)
Soybean fert. 3 1.5 336.26 224.17
Peren. Pnut 22 40 3,385.20 96.34 (c)
Totals 45 96.7 10,619.44 1,457.71
(a) K20, N trials
(b) microelement trials
(c) costs of establishment
(d) costs of replants
Selecting Collaborators for On Farm Trials
There are no prescribed means for selecting a collaborator other than membership in the clientele group and willingness on the farmer's part to make the required contributions to the research. It has been Dr. Swisher's responsibility to contact potential collaborators, and she has deliberately attempted to do so on a geographical basis--that is, an effort is made to distribute trials across various soil types. The county agents, feed store dealers and local farm household members have provided names of potential collaborators. Many initial collaborators were interviewed in the Sondeo.
ORGANIZATION: DEVELOPMENT, PROBLEMS AND PROPOSALS
The organization of the project During the first two years involved joint administration through an Administrative Coordinating Committee, composed of the Deans for Extension, Research and Resident Instruction, and a Technical Advisory Committee consisting of department deans and chaired by Chris Andrew in International Programs. The former committee made policy for the project while the latter provided input to program operations, selection of team members and research designs. Andrew remained an important liason between the IFAS administrative deans, faculty, and the team members during this crucial early period and until late 1982.
The actual field team, responsible for the initial survey (Sondeo) and ensuing research-transfer activities, was managed by Peter Hildebrand, faculty-member in Food and Resource Economics, and Edwin French, faculty member in Agronomy. Hildebrand devoted less and less time directly to the project as it became established, while French quickly became the administrator of the fieldwork. The two USDA appointees, George Clough (Vegetable Crops) and James Dean (Anthropology/FRED), carried out much of the initial fieldwork and conducted a goodly portion of the routine administrative duties such as purchasing, organizing equipment, correspondence, and meeting with interested parties to discuss the project. A secretary was hired part-time in the first year. The core team was later supplemented by a one year biologist position.
Figure 3 depicts the early organization of the North
Florida FSR/E Project. As the diagram indicates, ties with extension agents in the region during the early years were limited, despite recognition as early as the spring of 1989 that agents would be important to consult in programming the team's activities. The team originally did not have a core team member living full-time in the field. Marilyn Swisher rectified this situation by moving into that position in late 1981, enabling her to coordinate field activities on farm. The students and faculty core -mmbers of the team were responsible for all of the fieldwork during the first two years. This placed a great strain on the team as there were periodic labor shortages; team members would have to make time-consuming and costly round-trips from Gainesville into the research counties to conduct research activities.
The First Annual Review, held in the summer of 1982, indicated three major administrative problems plagued the project. They were 1) the team was not adequately incorporating
extension agents into the project, and concerns were raised by agents regarding.whether farmers understood the distinction between farming systems and extension personnel; 2) the team needed to collaborate more with IFAS research scientists; and 3) a field-based agent with local laborers would make operations more efficient. After these problems were discussed in detail, the team worked to ameliorate them. By late summer of 1982, the team initiated planning of on-farm activities with extension agents, coordinated its research with interested collaborators at the Live Oak Agricultural Research Station, the Quincy Agricultural Research Station and in Gainesville, and obtained funding to hire "paraprofessionals" in the two counties, to be supervised by an FSR/E field agent (Swisher).
DA STATEOFRFORI LEGS ATURE I
FAS AMIN STATION
ADMINISTRATIVE COORDINATING COUNTY COMMITTEE COMMISSION
Chair: Chris Andrew.,
CEAN for RE AH I DEAN for RESIDENT INSTRUCTIOI FEN-for EXTENSUN
COMMITTEE (Chairs of
Oeoattents in [FAS) P' FSR/E TEAM.C0ROINATOR: Peter COUNTY Hildebrand, Food and Resource I -Economics
CLAORATING L -ig -o- - - ---------rMSFARCH SCIENTISTS [ FSR/E CORE / French Swisher I
(Agronomist) (Field agent)
Figure 3. Organization of North Florida Farming
Systems Research and Extension Project,
Other organizational changes were made over the next two
years. Hildebrand moved further away from the domestic project and into teaching and international work. French became the leading team administrator in Gainesville, assisted by Dean and short-term appointed research assistants (Noel Beninati and, later, Chandra Reddi). Swisher began to significantly take over responsibility for in-the-field trials and coordinating team activities with local extension and the research station scientists. In 1983, Swisher's position was further solidified through her appointment ds a multi-county agent, legitimating her extension role and the team's linkages with the agents in the region.
Planning and budgeting decisions were made during late 1981 which allowed the FSR/E Project to affiliate itself within the Agronomy Department. The Technical Advisory Committee and International Programs linkages diminished over time, although team members continued to conduct work with the latter, especially after the establishment of the U.S. Agency for .Internati.onal Development backed Farming Systems Support Project in 1982. Faculty continue to be exposed to farming systems activities through reviews, plans of work, administrative tours, special presentations and collaboration on projects. Figure 4 depicts the present organizational structure of the North Florida Project.
USDA STATE OF FLORIDA
I I F AT.* 1ATURF
IFAS ACM INSTRATION
S RDEAN for EXTENSION
COLLABORATFigure 4. Organization. n of North Florida FSR/ENTY
RPARProject, 1984 gent
TS oaraorofession alsl
OCCASIONAL FS5P rMal
SUPPORT, VISITS TO NORTH FLORI
Figure 4. Organization of North Florida FSR/E Project, 1984
The two major diffa:ences to emphasize about the
administrative changes the project has experienced bet~reen 1980 and 1984 are 1) "vertical" linkages have been replaced by more. "horizontal" linkages, which has had the effect of moving the project "out of Gainesville" and "into the counties," and 2) collaborative planning and evaluation efforts involving researchers and extension agents with the team are stronger. During 1934, a majority of the project's on-farm trials have been put in utilizing labor and resources from the Live Oak Agricultural/Education Center. While most of the data are still processed in Gainesville due to the availability of facilities, some processing has been transferred to Live Oak, and Swisher keeps copies of research results on hand. Personal computershave been purchased which will expand the processing capacities of the research station based staff even more during 1984-85.
Discussions at the 1983 annual review suggested that the FSR/E Project begin to consider expansion. This would require moving into new counties and perhaps into new types of farming systems. In order for this to develop, further institutional-administrative modifications would probably be necessary. The idea that has the most merit at present is to create "regionally-based" FSR/E units. Regional units would be stationed at- the Agricultural Research Centers around the state. Regional field teams could consist of multicounty agents affiliated with FSR/E, FSR/E trainees on internships or other kinds of support-in-training, and paraprofessionals. This represents a general organizational form common to other farming systems projects, such as ICTA's in Guatemala. These team members would cooperate with station research scientists and county extension agents. Figure 5 depicts this type of institutional organization.
As of June, 1984, the Assistant Deans for Extension and Research have been appointed to oversee the North Florida Project's future development, evaluation, and planning. This is yet another step in the institutionalization of the project in IFAS.
How does'the team make decisions about the research and
extension activities it conducts? The following steps summarize the decision-making process as it is generally and somewhat ideally employed.
1) a need or problem is identified on the basis of
observations of antd discussions with members of the clientele, and/or with extension agents and researchers. Initially, these needs were determined through a Sondeo. Once the team began working in the region, periodic assessments o farm conditions have been used to determine new needs or problems. The evaluation to-h 'e.cu'i'cted over 1984-87 will help provide such data.
2) the identified need/problem is presented to the team. An evaluation as to its prevalance within the clintele population and importance to various farming systems follows.
NOTE: Once a research eLort is begun, problems arise which occasionally involve an immediate decision -- e.g., something that must be done for an on-farm research trial. Team leaders have the authority to act on their own in these cases.
3) alternatives to the problem are discussed and research designs proposed. Since 1982, the designs of research trials emerging from these discussions have usually been assigned to individual team members to prepare. In some cases, these are thesis projects. As the project develops its base in Live Oak, designs have increasingly been prepared on the basis of farmer, extension agent, research station scientist and field-team member collaboration, reflecting the shift in team composition to staff not working in Gainesville.
HOMOGENEOUS FARING SYSTE
CONT Comnodi ty
AGEnNTSn and Disciplinary
FARMRS faculty at Station
Figure 5.Proposed Regionally-Focused Farming Systems
Effort, with base at area Agkictiltural
Research and Education Center.
4) the team holds its own annual planning session when it
organizes its research activities and gives priority to each
proposed research trial. Required purchases for these trials
are then built into the budget submitted to IFAS. Much of this activity is presently coordinated wi-th the Live Oak AREC staff,
to avoid budget complications.
A special session of the team is called occasionally to
discuss research proposals which cannot be reviewed at an annual
5) the team opens its proposals to review at its annual.
summer reviews, and to extension agents, who often are consulted
as the design is being prepared.
6) proposals are modified accordingly and formally written
into a plan or work.
This planning procedure has usually functioned well.
However, in general, the University's budgeting time schedule-budgets need to be submitted before June-- has conflicted with
the team's planning and review schedule, held necessarily in
* late June After the winter wheat harvest. During the period
1983 to present much of the project discussion and planning has
* taken place between the extension and station/campus research
personnel. This represents a positive step toward
regionalization of the project and less dependence on campus
Despite problems with time schedul-es, the FSR/E team has
usually had sufficient funds to alter research designs as needed
when conflicts between budget and planning research activities
occur, More attention to the budget should have been given by IFAS administrators, and some means of coordinating budget plans
with the Live Oak facilities developed earlier.
The following tables summarize the budget support for the
project since 1980.
Table 7. USDA Funding, 1980-84.
Period Amount Spent
Sept. 1980 60,700
Sept. 1981 111,894
Oct. 1981 30,000 (conference)
Nov. 1982(a) 155,777
(a) Use of this money was extended until March, 1984.
Disbursement: 1980-82 1982-84
Salaries, benefits 132,034 121,980
Travel(a) 18,280 10,000
Overhead 19,805 18,297
Other 5,475 5,500
(a) This money was used for international work. Hildebrand
was sent to service OICD teams abroad and for briefings in
Table 8. State Funding, 1981-84.
Category 1981-82 1982-83 1983-84 1984-85
OE 6,238.60 27,269.23 41,360.00
OCO 14,010.00 8,938.95
OPS 11,900.00 15,000.00 56,905.00
GRANT 17,000.00 5,000.00
TOTALS 49,148.60 56,208.18 98,265.00
* Represents proposed budget.
Table 9. Budget Requests Identified by On Farm
Versus Research Station Activities.
Expense/year On Farm ($) Station
OE 81-82 22,500 14,300
82-83 23,275 16,875
83-84 19,900 21,460
OPS 81-82 7,900 15,800
82-83 6,275 17,012
83-84 21,110 13,100Totals OE+OPS
The following is a list of administrative-managerial
problems experienced by the project which can be expected to arise in other farming systems projects in the U.S. Efforts the Florida team took to rectify these problems are described.
1)- difficulties existed initially in obtaining support for the project within IFAS. The FSR/E Project appeared to have been "pushed" into the system and was receiving funding support when the State was decreasing overall funding to IFAS. Failure to educate more faculty about the Project's goals was partially to blame.
Since the first year, various "educational" presentations have been made by the FSR/E team to farm groups, members of IFAS and other organizations. These have taken the forms of FSR/E slide modules, papers read at annual society meetings, television promotions, public annual reviews, published papers, and through research and plan of work reports. Faculty have been encouraged to work with the team in conducting research. Particularly good ties have been established between certain personnel in agronomy, soils science, entymology and pathology.
2) relationships with extension initially were poor. The team was overly critical of extension outreach. This situation was rectified by working closely with extension in later years, incorporating agents into team planning sessions and the design of field trials. Extension agents have also hosted farm meetings in conjunction with the team, and help to publish a newsletter sent to the area's diversified farm households.
3) turnover on the team has been problematic. This particularly is in reference to its student membership.
Turnover has generated periodic labor problems and led to inconsistencies in data 'Collection and research follow-up. Training of new personnel to assume responsibilities of members planning to leave has been accomplished in only a few cases, and remains a problem. Lack of career service position has been partially to blame.
4) a computerized data management system woi'ild allow for more efficient storage and retrival data and other farm information. One permanent individual should be responsible for maintaining these records.' MSTAT could be incorporated for analysis and storage of data.
5) on farm research designs in a limited number of cases have been complicated by too many variables. The result has been a confounding of variable interactions.
6)-the team agronomist cannot effectively manage the year-round work done by the team and meet his faculty responsibilities. There is a need for summer and winter crop agronomists and a full time field biologist to manage multicounty field trials, and data collection. The biologist requires a. compliment of field labor.
7) faculty team members probably cannot be evaluated on the same criteria as traditionally used within IFAS. Rather,* evaluation should reflect the work they do as members of a ESR/E project, where research activities are generally simplified in order to obtain more immediate and critically important results, and are "systemic" rather than componentsi in nature. This may be one factor limiting the numbers of faculty working with'the team. Technology acceptance is the best evaluation tool.
8) since so much work occurs on station, equipment
sharing, land use planning and budgeting need to be coordinated between the FSR/E team and station researchers. The team has coordinated its efforts with the Live Oak ARC since 1982.
9) there is a lack of long-term, carefully thought out
integration between the social-economic and agronomic research activities. Economic studies tend to remain commodity-specific, despite the systems-oriented approach. Measures of how the new technologies being examined are altering labor, managerial,, cash'flow and related activities are only partially being made. Emphasis, in terms of-both support and project objectives, has been given to agronomic activities and problems. There is a need to strengthen social and economic efforts by providing greater participation of faculty from these disciplines on the team. A newly added multicounty agent with specialization in marketing should help tie the micro and macro economic factors to benefit the farmer. The upcoming addition of a marketing/farm management agent should solve this problem.
SYNOPSIS OF 1983 EXTERNAL REVIEW
During 1983, an external review team consisting of Drs. J.K. McDermott, Roberta van Haeften, Robert Waugh, and Dale Harpstead examined the North Florida Project4.Their report consisted of two major sections, "findings" and "recommendations."
This team found that a significant strength of the project has been its ability to focus upon critical issues and design research and educational/field demonstrational activities accordingly. The project has established community linkages and aggressively moved technology onto farms for testing and demonstration, while simultaneously addressing multiple factors in the farmers' production equation. There are other programs in IFAS and the State which could collaborate with FSR/E, such as the Florida A and M 1890s.Project, integrated pest management, minimum tillage work, etc.
It appeared to this team that the extension branchhas developed considerably more interest in FSR/E than has the research counterpart, but the agricultural research center network could serve as a means for the expansion of a farming systems effort. Also, the predominant number of faculty in IFAS associate farming systems with limited resource farmers rather than FSR/E in its broader context, a situation which needs correction.
The team recommended that FSR/E should be continued at IFAS, enlisting increased participation of core, discipline oriented IFAS faculty. FSR/E needs legitimization and an institutional "home." This means establishment of IFAS policy for FSR/E and an appropriate reward structure. Joint extension/research planning might be promoted at regional agricultural research centers. A central administrative structure could be established within a high level unit, such as the Center for Rural Development. Other possibilities include individuals with joint research/extension appointments who coordinate these activities on farm. An expansion strategy for the project is needed.
Figure 6 models the processes by which farming systems
projects organize, collect, interpret and utilize data. The figure indicates how the data should be integratively incorporated into the development of work plans, budgets, and annual reviews. A centralized file ideally is employed into which all data are entered. Note that in a project having regionally-based farming systems teams, a data (work) file should be kept in the region. The development of computer data management systems makes this kind of data processing both feasible and efficient.
The work occurring at Live Oak suggests that a successful field organization can be put together at a research center, where an FSR/E field agent coordinates activities between researchers, extension agents, paraprofessionals and farm collaborators. This.field agent needs to have legitimate, acceptable extension and research responsibilities.
Unlike the North Florida FSR/E Project's start, extension should be drawn into U.S. farming systems approaches from the beginning. County agents are important sources of information and provide crucial support to an FSR/E team in gaining legitimacy and acceptance within a county's existing agricultural structure. The North Florida effort has improved its research efforts through the development of close linkages with extension personnel at the local and regional levels.
Economic FAR REGION
xFigure 6. Proposed Regionally Focused Farming Systems Effortis
with base at area Agricultural Research andtion
. Report writing
Figure 6. Proposed Regionally-Focused Farming Systems Effort,
with base at area Agricultural Research and
Farming Systems Research and Extension Program. 1981 Sondeo of Farmers in Suwannee and Columbia
Counties. Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, University of Florida.
1982 First Annual In-House Review of FSR/E Program.
Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, University of
1983 Second Annual In-House Review of FSR/E Program.
Gainesville: FSR/E Program, IFAS, University of
Gordon and Mulkey.
1977 Value of Agricultural Sales in Florida Counties.
Gainesville: IFAS, University of Florida.
1979 The ICTA Farm Record Project with Stuall Farmers-Four Years of Experience. ICTA: Guatemala.
Hildebrand, Peter and Robert Waugh. 1983 "Farming Systems Research and Development."
Farming Systems Support Program Newsletter,
McDermott, J.K., Roberta van Haeften, Robert Waugh and Dale Harpstead.
1983 Report of the External Review Team on the North
Florida Farming Systems Research/Extension Project.
Gainesville: IFAS, University of Florida.
1982 Probability of Drought-Induced Corn Crop Failure
in North Florida. Gainesville: Dept. of Geography,
University of Florida. (M.S. Thesis.)
U.S. Censuses of Agriculture, for the years 1860 to 1979, inclusive. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.
U.S. Census of Population, 1980. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.