MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR INITIATING A FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
PROGRAM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The University has been discussing the need for and the desirability
of a Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) Program that would
work initially with small, limited resource farmers in Florida and with
related energy and water issues. Much of the methodology for this approach
has been developed in International Program activity and it is anticipated
there would be continuation of a Domestic/International interface in the
FSR/E program. A white Paper (Attachment A) was written up to serve as a
basis for Program development. In this White Paper, the need for urgency
was demonstrated. Later, at the request of the Vice-President and the
Director of International Programs, a report was prepared by FRED on the
future international involvement of that department (relevant excerpts
in Attachement B). Similar reports were prepared by the other IFAS de-
partments. In the FRED report, the proposed domestic/international FSR/E
program was described as based upon discussions with the Vice-President,
the Director of International Programs, several IFAS Department Chairmen
and IFAS faculty interested in the program. The main thrust of the do-
mestic component was stated as follows:
"This program will consist of one or more operating FSR/E
teams in Research Centers of the Univeristy working on problems
of small farmers and on the emerging problems related to energy,
water and other scarce resource use on larger commercial farms
This component is to be backed up by a supporting research and graduate train-
ing component on the Gainesville campus.
Early discussions about the FSR/E teams centered on the creation of an
initial five man, multidisciplinary team to be stationed possibly at Live Oak.
Later discussions have included a reduced three man team. Now, because of
difficulty in funding during the 1980-81 year, a minimum viable package is
being considered. This paper discusses the requirements for the minimum
FSR/E Objectives and Procedures
The principles upon which the FSR/E approach is based include a team
effort which undertakes the identification of constraints and problems
through rapid, insightful (as opposed to census description) surveys and
the incorporation of the farmers, themselves, in the search for and testing
of solutions. The majority of the work is carried out on farms rather than
on experiment stations. The lag from problem identification to technology
adoption is minimized. Research and extension activities are combined
rather than separated forces. Cost efficiency, measured in terms of adopted
technology for specified target clients, is high.
This methodology, developed and practiced over the last five years in
Guatemala and other countries, substitutes mobility for fixed plant and in-
corporates direct client participation and their partial financing of tech-
nology development. For maximum efficiency, the approach requires multidis-
ciplinary participation among the team scientists. Because the problems of
farmers (particularly small farmers) are many and varied and stem from a
multitude of sources, the greater the number of disciplines involved, the
higher the probability of discovering the real constraints and the more
rapid the development of appropriate and acceptable solutions. Scientists
from Animal Science and Anthropology, from Veterinary Medicine, Vegetable
Crops and FRED, from Soils, Agronomy, Entomology and Nematology, Fruit Crops,
Plant Pathology, Forestry and Food Sciences may all be required to help
solve the problems of the small farmer in Florida and all can play an active
or support role in an FSR/E program.
Realistically and practically it is not possible to form a full-time
team of so many individuals, nor is it necessary. Many of the disciplines
play support rather than active roles and need not be permanently on the
field team. For North Florida a field team could well include Agronomy,
FRED, Vegetable Crops, Animal Science and Anthropology. All are critical,
but it is possible for some individuals to serve more than one function
under scarce funding conditions, particularly when there is adequate back-
up from the main campus that is directed to the specific needs of the team.
(More basic backup research of a generalized nature is a long-run require-
ment for technology development but is not included directly in this FSR/E
A Minimum, Viable Package for Initiating FSR/E Activities
Given the institutional constraints on timing and currently available
funds, it is now being proposed that a two-man team, composed of indivi-
duals with ample experience in FSR/E, be stationed in Gainesville to initi-
ate an FSR/E project with the small farmers in Alachua County that were
identified in the FSR/E methodology course taught in the Spring Quarter,
Peter Hildebrand (FRED), who has been on sabbatic leave from The Rocke-
feller Foundation has been given the responsibility of developing the FSR/E
program at the University. In this capacity he has been traveling exten-
sively in work related to the FSR/E program and in discharging commitments
made prior to arriving at the University of Florida. It is proposed that
he continue with this responsibility but that he divert a significant por-
tion of his time to active participation in the domestic component of the
FSR/E work in Florida and serve as one member of the team.
Edwin French (now with the UF Bolivia contract) was proposed as the
team leader for the Live Oak (or elsewhere) FSR/E team and will be avail-
able when he terminates in Bolivia.
Hildebrand will join the UF faculty in July, 1980 as a Visiting Professor
and it is proposed that French be named a Visiting Professor in Agronomy pos-
sibly with an adjunct appointment in Vegetable Crops beginning in late summer
when he returns from Bolivia. This would require the immediate funding of one
Visiting Professorship for approximately a one year period.
In order to function efficiently, this team would require support funding
for office space and secretarial services (now being temporarily furnished in
Hildebrand's case), land on the agronomy or horticultural farms (Hildebrand
now has one acre on the Agronomy Farm), transportation, research equipment and
supplies and other support services and supplies.
Initial Activities in Alachua County
For logistical reasons, activities will be initiated in Alachua County
where group of small farmers was identified in the spring quarter Farming
Systems Methodology course. The two team members (with two graduate students)
will continue the exploratory survey to identify constraints and problems and
will initiate farm trials where appropriate with backup trials on the Agronomy
or Horticultural farms of the University. These early trials will probably in-
clude the possibilities of producing vegetables through the winter. Trials
will be established on several area farms to obtain a regional response and
risk estimates. Coordinated support activities will be initiated to study po-
tential marketing problems associated with off season supply.
Associated or intercropping is an option open particularly to small farm-
ers that can have important energy and water implications. Deep and shallow
rooted crops planted in association more efficiently intercept fertilizers that
would otherwise be lost through leaching in sandy, Florida soils. Irrigation
water is also more efficiently used through the same principle. Further, by
mixing grain and vegetable crops, the irrigation of grains is much more fea-
sible so that farms otherwise unable to afford an irrigation system may find
great advantage in installing one. Intercropping also can increase the
efficiency or decrease the relative use of pesticides which also have impor-
tant energy implications.
Associated cropping trials would be established initially on one of the
University farms (or rented land in the Alachua County area). These trials
would be for the purpose of developing systems for small farmers and would be
guided by the on-farm work being undertaken simultaneously. This type of
research would be complementary to and draw upon the results of the Minimum
Tillage/Multiple Cropping program but would be oriented specifically toward
the small farmer. Because of the number of small farmers in the South and
especially in Florida, this orientation is seen as of equal importance as
the Minimum Tillage work is to the larger farms.
Relationship to On-Going Projects
FRED is hiring a new Assistant Professor in its Small Farms position,
which is a continuation of a line of work over the last several years that
has been related to the needs of small Florida farmers. Vegetable Crops has
been working several years on vegetable variety testing over different plant-
ing dates and vegetable sequencing. They are discussing a new project in
associated vegetable/field crop production. Agronomy has been working sever-
al years on intercropping experiments with important implications to small
farmers. Agronomy also has the important program in minimum tillage and
multiple cropping aimed mainly at the larger, commerical farmer but with com-
ponents applicable to the small farmers. It is anticipated that some results
of the FSR/E program will be applicable to the Minimum Tillage/Multiple Crop-
An important aspect of the proposed FSR/E program would be to cooperate
with the above project efforts in an integrated thrust oriented specifically
at known conditions of groups of small farmers. Because FSR/E has extension
as well as applied research components, it can serve as a means of channeling
the more basic work being done at present to specific clients.
This proposal specifically applies to the 1980-81 year. However, it is
not meant to be only a short-run project. Rather it should be considered as
a minimum effort to initiate a long-run FSR/E program with both domestic and
international implications. Every effort should be made in 1981 to obtain
financing for a complete FSR/E team for Live Oak or another location. Projects
initiated in Alachua County during this first year will be continued with cam-
pus participation. It is important once an active project is begun with spe-
cific farmer clients who are financing part of the activities, that the pro-
ject not be terminated until there are results being used by the clients.
The establishment of a quality FSR/E program within the state of Florida
will create the credibility required to attract outside financing to imple-
ment the envisioned international and graduate level components of the FSR/E
program referred to in the White Paper.
Because of the important nature of the long-run implications of an FSR/E
program both within Florida and in International Programs, it is suggested
that the Program not be initiated unless there is firm long-run interest and
Resource Requirements, 1980-81
Following is a list of the resources which must be available to make the
minimum package program efficient and viable in the first year.
Office space :Two will be required. Hildebrand has one temporarily.
Secretaries :Hildebrand has one temporarily
Assistantships :A minimum of two is required for the first year.
Desks, typewriters, calculators, files, chairs, etc.
Telephone, paper, folders, etc.
At least one pickup to haul supplies and equipment.
Small farm tractor with set of implements
Field plot equipment
Field technicians, labor
Fuel, oil, lubricant
Fertilizer, pesticides, seed, etc.
Part of the above will need to be supplied by the departments involved.
Part will need to be purchased and part may be donated by interested suppliers.
But is important that it all be available, which implies a commitment on the
part of the University to provide that which cannot be obtained from other
addition, tenure-track positions for both Hildebrand and French will
be provided beginning in July, 1981.
ADDRESSING FLORIDA's EMERGING
FARM PROBLEMS THROUGH
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
IFAS International faculty in cooperation
with the Center forTropical Agriculture
January 2, 1980
ADDRESSING FLORIDA'S FMERGI!;
FARM PROBLEMS THROUGH
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AI'D F) X'Nl I
Worldwide, agriculture is facing new problems. The technology that
produced the remarkable productivity increases since the late 1930's and
was created with abundant and comparatively cheap energ.. is becoming less
appropriate. As world population increases at a record rate and natural
resource availability declines the situation is becoming more and more
critical. Increasing public interest in environrmen'.u quality and energy
conservation adds a further dimension to these neo probi 1ems facing agricul-
ture, as does mounting concern over the plight of the small or limited
This white paper indicates how a method known as Farming Systems Research
and Extension (FSR/E) car help in the search for nrie technology. The method
is appropriate for domestic and international work and is of special importance
for diversified or limited resource farmers. Some eleents of this new approach
are already used domestically in north Florida and internationally in Malawi,
El Salvador, Bolivia and Ecuador by IFAS faculty. The basic methodology
presented here was developed over the last 5 years in the Guatemalan Institute
of Agricultural Science and Technology (ICTA), and is being used in modified
form in Honduras, Colombia and Panama. Similar approaches have also been
developed and tested in Africa and Asia.
FARMING SYSTEMS RESEARCH AND EXTENSION
A farming system is the result of the manner in which each farmer produces
and markets or consumes crop and livestock products. It is the phenomenon that
results from each farmer's unique interpretation of the natural and socio-economic
environment in which he attempts to augment his family's utility, as influenced
by the resources available to him and those agronor ic, economic, environmental,
cultural and social factors which to some degree affect his decisions. Each
farm is a unique "farming system". Yet similar farms can be grouped into homo-
geneous farming systems. These groups of homogeneous farming systems serve as
the basis for FSR/E. Farming Systems Research and Extension is an integrated,
multidisciplinary team approach to understanding speci fic farming systems and
to use this understanding to develop and promote improved and more appropriate
agricultural technology for them.
Over the last few decades most agricultural research and extension workers
have provided information to their clients based only on their own area of
expertise in, say, maize production or swine farming or even maize fertilization
or swine parasites. This information, although valuable, tends to be isolated
from and static with respect to other problems, products and inputs and is no
longer suitable by itself to meet agriculture's new challenges. FSR/E, as a
supplernnt to the traditional component approach, can better provide integrated
answers and is more appropriate to many problems.
Figure 1 shows how the traditional multidisciplinary system of research has
functioned using two disciplines as an example. A coordinating committee focuses
the participants' attention on the general problem and approves each contributing
project. These contributing projects are mostly conducted independently but
;/ Ce In,;:'rali zed D .;
;' Problem :i
"" NMulLt disciplinary 'D
P.\ Co;".ns ; e ailt. i
D Sc in or isciplinhry
"/ Ar 1
xtension:Application Extension Application
~------^-v~~^-^-**w'<;*=^^*-''*' *//'I~--~-- '*'''^- --
iCon.rrib.tinhe Tdscipinal Aproah Conto ibuto Did ltidisciplinar:ir
Research and Extension Activities
j i V-i
c CrGo-authored- .
4. .i \- .
L D pl.hlJy | or D :D disciplinary .
!; Publicip..ations . o .. Publications "
ii I ^
II f_\_Cross Referenced 1' ] .
l)i;;ctplinary or Component Disciplinary or Component
(if any) (if any)
.... Areas Areas -~
Extens ion:Application I Extension Application
(if any) i (if any) .
Figure 1. The Traditional Approach to Coordinated Nultidisciplinary
Research and Extension Activities
r ,i-i. i n ioint: l y--,a.!t ordc! or cross -,- 'er 'ced:bJ i.h l i on:. Di -.:.;, ,. .
or :'",, 'i.,lt -,c --i ,: i Lpassed to x.':: .ion .;-: d' cip; inar/ ; ...
Figure 2 demonstrates the FSR/E approach. A mul i -discip inary Leain,
workingin g as a unit defines a specific problem in a detc:-;lined area, and Logjether
dIvelops a single, integrated project to search for one or more solutions. Each
mei;ber of the team contributes from his own area of expertise, but the effort
is joint and the principle product is the technological solution appli ::abia- to
h-)- speccific probl;:i identified. Ssnporting projects, publications nid applica-
L;.',;- ,to other geographical areas are secondary to the i-ajor FSR/E -hrv-L.
./cveral inmiortant .icaracteristics contribute to ;te e fic iel.i /-. ; ,1:- FSR/E
approach. First, as the identification of and solution cio Farm proi;-lems can
originate from a variety of fields, the wider the disc; !.inary repr,;n.e:-.Ltt ion
on the team, the greater the probability of defining real problems a;.-' of producing
technologies useful to te-..clients. Second; by concentrating a tea;i effort on
specific problems, the time to application and adoption of new technology is
mini i;ized. Third, farmers and extension workers are involved in the process from
the beginning. This reduces or eliminates the need to modify a new technology to
m'k-e it acceptable to specific conditions and allows promotion to begin early
in the technology development process.
Tha FSR/E approach creates an environment in which unique or exotic, yet
appropriate and highly acceptable solutions to farm problems can be spawned.
Participation in an FSR/E team can be complementary to other staff activity and
can have the by-product of generating additional research areas to study specific
aspects of the problem in more depth using traditional disciplinary procedures.
As recently developed, FSR/E involves the following sequence of events, all
of which involve the entire FSR/E team:
1. Select a group of farmers, homogeneous with respect to their farming
system based on regional, commodity or other considerations consistent
with state, national or institutional priorities.
2. Study the selected farming system to determine what the farmers do,
how they do it and why they do it that way. Interaction of the team
members will help define problems and develop possible solutions.
3. Design and conduct appropriate station experiments, farm trials or
other means of testing alternative solutions.
4. Establish a testing procedure whereby the clients evaluate the most
promising technologies or solutions.
5. Organize appropriate procedures to promote the most acceptable solution
6. Utilize a farm record system to study adoption and impact of suggested
.,. Area Specific -'.,
.i FSR/E Teamr
Contribu- Integrated ,Contribu-
ting Pro- .1 FSR/E Project "ting Pro-
/ ject (if (Research & Extension)..ject (if
\ any) any)
ifa U. I FSR/E
D i sc i in ry r D isc i
or component or coi
(if any) (if
arch A i ear
.. or areas of Area Specific for are;
Applicability -- Application --o Applical
Extension Supporting Exte
Application Publications (if
(if any) (if any)
Figure 2. The FSR/E Multidisciplinary Team Approach to Research and
pil n ry
This is an opportune time For the. University Lo .1 '-cole o involved in Farming
Systems Rcsec.rch and .
-*y'':t and placiln high priority on this approach. Ye. thY.re is no university
wiithl an FSR/E program that can serve as a source oi training for domestic and
foreign staff and students. Developing a strong. proc frarm hore not only would
-ai ; c?-. fin: a cing and participants, but also ,.oui be critical to help ;g Florida's
l ,-:'-.i r solve their er.e. r ing probleris.
The compositions of 1, ti disc i p in i;- FSR/E teams Je.I.nd; on the ne: ur' of
: ; :.roject. The folic ,ing are sonc of the departments or disci lin-. t; i ; hat
havt: expressed interest in an FSR/E approach to helping solve problems of
Florida's farmers and which could be involved in international efforts as well:
Agronomy, Agricultural Engineering, Animal Science, Anthropology, Entomology and.
Ne..atology, Food and Resource Economics, Forestry, Vege:table Crops and Preventive
Veterinary Medicine. Others would probably also be involved. An FSR/E group
has been meeting frequently on campus and would provide the disciplines required
to initiate program activities.
An FSR/E program would have several facets. Basic would be one or more
strong projects in Florida. Counties with concentrations of limited resource
farmers in the Northwest have been suggested most frequently as an area of initial
research and extension emphasis. This activity would involve research and
extension staff as well as graduate students and is necessary to provide credibility
to an, claim in expertise in FSR/E. A brief series of courses, most already being
taught, would be identified to serve as a core for students interested in concen-
trating in this methodological approach. International projects with FSR/E
activities would facilitate interchange of faculty, methodologies and technologies
between the domestic and international components. Current and potential projects
in Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Malawi and Colombia as well as with various
international centers would provide the core of foreign program efforts. A
proposed project for including Social and Economic Criteria in Agricultural
Research (SECAR), through, USAID, would also be incorporated into an FSR/E program
at the University of Florida.
Operational requirements include a mechanism for freeing staff time as program
efforts are initiated. This would involve both an initial source of funds and
some modifications of ongoing projects. Sources of funds for graduate student
participation would also facilitate initial efforts. Part of long run funding
would logically come from core university funds, but abundant funding from outside
sources is foreseen as soon as a credible program is underway.
Not only is the time opportune for the University of Florida to initiate an
FSR/E program, but time is of the essence. Because of the great interest at
present by many donor agencies (chief among them USAID) on the FSR/E approach, it
will be but a short time before several U.S. universities and possibly some foreign
universities establish programs and begin to compete for funds and participants.
With the University of Florida's well known capabilities and location it has many
advantages in becoming a national and international leader in FSR/E, but these can
be offset by lack of sufficient initiative to establish a strong program with due
Budget for Summer, 1980
Calendar Other sources Funds
FTE's Month of income or Requested
1. Salaries time
Faculty seed grant &
2 June-Sept. departmental Nonea/
1 secretary .25 June-Sept. 2400
(Full time 4 mos)
3. Graduate Assistants June-Sept.
2 full-time .50 6400
2 half-time .25 3200
Salaries subtotal 12,000
II. Fringe benefits plus insurance
1. Faculty NA
2. OPS salary x 1% 24
3. Graduate assistants x 1% 98
Fringe benefits subtotal 122
Salaries and fringe benefits total 12,122
III. Equipment NA
IV. Expenses (OE) 5 weeks
1. Materials and supplies 200
2. Domestic travel 17C/mile
150 miles/day x 50 days 1275
3. Computer services 100
4. Career Services Personnel Assessment Fee
2 FTE x 40.00 80
Expense total 1080
Direct total costs $13,777
Total indirect costs ?
x 55% ?
a/Art Hansen's time is being covered by a seed grant. Efforts are being
made to secure support for Elon Gilbert's involvement through FRED. It is
assumed that other participating faculty will not require additional funding.
April 30, 1980
Excerpts from: Future International Program Involvement of the Food and
Resource Economics Department
Departmental Programs Contributing to IFAS
C. New International/Domestic Research and Teaching Program
Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E)
The Food and Resource Economics Department is playing a lead role in
the establishment of an FSR/E Program in the University involving many dif-
ferent departments and comprising several components. Included in the pro-
gram will be:
A. Domestic FSR/E Program
This program will consist of one or more operating FSR/E teams
in Research Centers of the University working on problems of small
farmers and on the emerging problems related to energy, water and
other scarce resource use on larger commercial farms as well.
B. International FSR/E Center located at Gainesville involving:
1. A supporting research and graduate training component with
a limited number of FSR/E courses and other suggested core
courses for students wishing to specialize in FSR/E methods, but
who.maintain departmental and disciplinary identification.
2. Short courses for the training of U.S. and foreign adminis-
trative and program planning personnel in the techniques and
use of FSR/E.
3. Consultancy services involving University of Florida faculty
with experience in Farming Systems to assist i) agricultural re-
search institutions at the national, regional and international
level establish and improve FSR/E type programs; and ii) govern-
ment departments, funding agencies and project authorities
in utilizing FSR/E as part of project identification, de-
sign, monitoring and evaluation activities.
C. International Projects Involving:
A. Operational FSR/E projects in several countries utilizing
faculty and graduate students and in support of local as well
as regional or international research and extension institu-
tions and including a participant training component.
B. A network of courses related to FSR/E taught in several
locations throughout Latin America and Africa either as short
courses or for graduate or undergraduate credit. These
courses would be taught in collaboration with other institu-
tions and in the language of the country in which they are
Support Needed for Planned Work in International
Programs Over the Next Two Years
A. Farming Systems Research and Extension (FSR/E) Program
Support of the FSR/E Program over the next two years will require several
faculty positions plus assistantships, career service, equipment and supplies.
Because the FSR/E Program is multidisciplinary, this support will be spread
over several departments. Immediate needs are for two line faculty positions
in FRED (both starting approximately in June, 1981) and one in Veg. Crops,
four other full time faculty positions to complete the complement of five
needed for a FSR/E team in one of the Regional Research Centers of the Uni-
versity, at least one assistantship for each of the five departments most ac-
tively participating in the FSR/E program (though not necessarily proportioned
in the same way), two career service positions (one for the Research Center
team and one for the Program in Gainesville), additional office space and