Front Cover
 Farming systems of Bradford...
 Cattle breed farming system
 Vegetable based-farming system...
 Large commercial vegetable...
 System introduction
 Primary recommendations
 Farmers involvement in identifying...

Title: Farming systems researchextension
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095078/00001
 Material Information
Title: Farming systems researchextension Bradford County sondeo
Physical Description: 33 leaves : map ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Arteaga, Doris
Chikwana, Rose
Eylands, Val
Akwabi-Ameyaw, Kofi
McFarland, Bill
McMillan, Della
Nova, Jose
Reynolds, Jim
Sappie, Glenn
Wake, John
Publication Date: 1982
Copyright Date: 1982
Subject: Agricultural systems -- Research -- Florida -- Bradford County   ( lcsh )
Agricultural extension work -- Florida -- Bradford County   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America -- Florida -- Bradford County
General Note: "Performed: March 20, 23, & 27, 1982; submitted: April 23, 1982."
General Note: Caption title.
General Note: Typescript.
Statement of Responsibility: by Doris Arteaga ... et al..
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095078
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 433594202

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Farming systems of Bradford county
        Page 11
    Cattle breed farming system
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Vegetable based-farming systems
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
    Large commercial vegetable growers
        Page 23
        Page 24
    System introduction
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Primary recommendations
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
    Farmers involvement in identifying constraints
        Page 34
        Page 35
Full Text



Performed: March 20, 23, & 27, 1982

Submitted: April 2, 1982

by: Doris Arteaga

Rose Chikwana

Val Eylands

Kofi Akwabi-Ameyaw

Bill McFarland

Della McMillan

Jose Nova

Jim Reynolds

Glenn Sappie

John Wai-te

Under the Direction of: George Clough


This report is based on a rapid survey of Bradford County,

Florida in March 1982. Research was conducted as a training

exercise for the Farming Systems Methodology class (AGG5813).

The purposes of the study were several:

1. to identify the major homogeneous farming systems

in the county,

2. to suggest some of the important constraints that

farmers are facing,

3. to recommend changes that could increase total produc-

tion and improve farmers' living standards.


Bradford County lies in the heart of North Central Florida

It is surrounded on the east by Clay County; by Alachua and Putnam

Counties to the south; by Union County on the west, and by Baker

County on the north. The county resembles a rough triangle. It

includes a total of 301 square miles (189,000 acres) and is 40

miles across at the widest point (Figure ).

The land is typically flat with some small hills near the

New and Santa Fe Rivers which comprise the county's western and

southern boundaries. There is a range of elevation from 115 to

175 feet above sea level.

The mean temperature is 69.9 F with an average temperature

of 80 F in the summer and 56 in the winter months. The growing

season is 275 days. An average of 48.9 inches of rain a year


falls on Bradford County's light sandy soils and the area of dark

organic soils where most of its truck crops are grown.


Bradford County began as part of New River County in 1858.

In 1861, Bradford and Union Counties split off to form one county,

Bradford, named in honor of Captain Richard Bradford, first

Florida officer killed in the war between the states. In 1921,

Bradford was split again, to form the present counties of Bradford

and Union.

Starke, the county seat and largest city, was established

before 1857 and named for either Madison Starke Perry, Governor

of Florida from 1857-1861, or for Thomas Starke of South Carolina,

who bought land around DeLeon Springs in Volusia County in 1975.

The town is located on the crossroads of US 301 and State Roads

100 and 16. It is 42 miles southwest of Jacksonville and 26 miles

northeast of Gainesville.

Lawtey, was settled in 1877 by a group of people from

Chicago and was named for William Lawtey, the group's leader's

son-in-law. Captain Surrin donated 200 acres for the town on

the condition that money made from the sale of lots should be

used for churches and schools. Lawtey is 7 miles north of Starke

on US 301 and State Roads 200 and 225.(

The incorporated community of Brooker was founded in 1892.

It's early history was importantly tied to the extension of the

railroad system. Brooker is on State Roads 18 and 325 in the

western part of the county about 16 miles from Starke. Brooker

was a center of tung production up until government support pro-

grams ended and the tung press closed in 1970.

Another such community, Hampton, grew up around the rail-

road tracks near a farm owned by a family named Terry and was

named for Terry's 10 year old son, Hampton. Hampton is located

on State Rodds 18 and 325, east of Brooker and seven miles soutth

of Starke.

In 1980, the total population of the county was 20,023

persons. About 26.5% of the inhabitants lived in the urban area

of Starke and 7.9% in the municipalities of Lawtey, Hampton,

and Brooker. The remaining 65.5 % were scattered on the farms

and other rural settlements in the county (Table 1 and 2).

In 1975, Bradford County had a population density of 55.3

persons per square mile. The county was ranked second in North

Central Florida in terms of population density and fourth in

terms of total population size.









About 70%'.of the land in Bradford County is woodland.

Most of this land is owned or leased by pulp companies such as

Consolidated Can Corporation (Concora) and ITT Rayoner. Of the

remaining land, about 4% is considered urban and 26% is in crop-

land or pasture. The majority of the soil is typified by a

fine sand or loamy sand topsoil and a weakly cemented sandy sub-

soil. Native fertility and organic matter levels are low and the

topsoils tend to be naturally acidic. A more detailed summary of

the soil types and their suitability for agricultural use is


Most of the agriculturalland is divided into homesteads

that range from ten to two hundred acres. The 1978 Farm Census

Survey indicates that 5 % of the farms are less than 50 acres,

38% between 179 acres and less than 14% over 180 acres in size.

(Table ).

Most farmers are second or third generation residents who

have inherited the bulk of their land. Clusters of single family

homes can be found along the main roads. Many of these families

are descendants of settlers who moved into the area to work on

the railroads in the late 1880s.

There is little evidence to suggest that farm size is

either increasing or decreasing. Given the high cost of land

($1,000-2,000) per acre, most farmers stated that it was better

to rent additional land if more land was required. Depending on

the quality of land, rents in Bradford Coutny ranged from $20 to $60 per



By far the greatest portion of the Bradford County farmers 'work out'

i.e., have cash-paying jobs in one of the nearby towns or cities. Major em-

ployers include the State Prison, DuPont and Fort Blanding. These part-time

farmers are restricted to farming on their days off, weekends and evenings.

Whether full-time or part-time, the immediate family provides most of the

farm labor. The large number of household heads who work off the farm, has

increased the importance of farm labor by farm wives and children. This is

particularly the case in the commercial chicken operations.

Most of the truck farmers rely on migrant help during peak labor periods

of planting and harvesting times. In most cases, these workers are paid min-

imum wage, though occasionally a piece-work wage scale was established.

Many farmers expressed their dissatisfaction with the reliability of migrant

workers. In some instances, growers were trying to get around hired labor by

operating U-pick-it operations. On the poultry breeder farms, very little

labor is required while on the egg-laying operations, one or two hired laborers

were needed to gather eggs.


Credit for operating expenses or small equipment purchases was available

through several local lending institutions, including

the Community State Bank in Starke or the Production Credit

ASsociation APCA). Loans of this type were generally one-year

notes and carried an interest rate of 17-18% at the bank to

14-15% at the PCA. The agricultural loan officer at the

Community State Bank said that they were currently letting

principle payments slide if the farmers made interest payments

on time. Approximately 10% of the total loans from the bank

were agricultural loans, none of these being land mortgages.

Farm Home Administration loans for land, buildings and machinery

were available but difficult to obtain. At the going rate of

14.5%, a farmer often has to wait one to two years to obtain

a FmHA loan.

The difficulty of obtaining any type of

loans depends primarily on the financial history of the applie-

cant rather than the type of operation the loan money is to be

used for. Collateral is generally not a problem, as many farmers

typically hold title to or have small mortgages on their land.

Most growers, however, are very reluctant to borrow any

money for operating expenses and prefer to farm "out-of-pocket"

by financing agricultural inputs with money from off-farm jobs.

As there was little evidence to suggest that farmers would risk

borrowing money to increase agricultural inputs, the availability

or cost of loans did not seem to be a constraining factor: in

Bradford County.


Bradford County Soil Map Legend


% of

Soil Potential for Agriculture

Pine Improved
Woodland Cropland Pasture





*Subject to














The soils of Bradford County can be generally described

as being nearly level and moderately well drained, except in

the flooding region north of Lawtey. The topsoils are very sandy

and have a low native fertility. Liming is necessary for crop-

land and improved pastures. The subsoils are loamy sands or

sandy loams and frequently have a wealthy cemented subsoil layer.


I '

U -


~0 + /

1 loi ona Oln mrt.a No aro y lo.t. fet. mi. y Um so
waI-in vftre o nrav ijn oa o owl > an 0.a Ia ll na
0'1,totWi 1 *0., .0.1* 1,m *,1y the bnd ibfl 0 o1

ri--*- : -- --- _^_ __

2^ n l a Cr I00 n c oM na dow n bt. o I, inraunou.

I 1101 "* -l. .1 Im nd. ________y rri Co+ irji 'o 11

4 m rP -i Mi Nl If ufofnn n o 'TW muWCi *na
I MoO r frL wld Hll *in nem mym simovl v

7 drmr Mlll me ymu I *m

| "!' Oru-, -,v f s k d m r an __

I Ne" a rrlt ma very d y ar n s oll
-use soprseup ecsu

C. 1- - -'- - --

.0 --
u .. .



01 I I I *I.si





~'_ILii _------
-_--- I

Farming Systems of Bradford County

Three of the most important farming systems are:

(1) Cattle

Cattle production is the most common system in Bradford

County. The size of the cattle farms range from a

few acres to hundredsof acres. The majority of cattle

farmers have small operations and are employed full-

time off the farm.

(2) Poultry and Cattle

Poultry production is by far the most important source

of farm income in the county, given its large scale

and commercial contracts. Labor inputs are small

and allow for a small traditional cattle operation

on the side.

(3) Vegetables

Vegetable farming is also very common in Bradford

County. The size of the vegetable farm can be

either small or very large. The majority of vegetable

farmers, however, have snauli operations and are employed

off the farm full-time.

Cattle Based Farming System

Cattle operations have been identified according to the

type of enterprises carried out on the farm and by size of herd

or scale of operation. The major classifications are: (1)

cow-calf herds, (2) beef cattle, and (3) raising dairy calves.

Many farms have small herds of less than 20 animals as might be

expected, considering the predominant role of low acreage

farms. Because of the small size of most of the farming

operations, many families that maintain small cow-calf herds

must either work off-farm or combine cattle with poultry or

vegetable production. An increasing amount of land owned or

leased has been paralleled by increased sizes of cow-calf herds

to between 20-180 head per operator. Calves are generally sold

to local cattlemen through live stock markets or they are pur-

chased to be shipped west to be fattened on feedlots. These

cow-calf operators also grow row crops on their farms; many of

them have cut back on corn and soybean production.

Since costs are climbing and prices are down, beef cattle

were a second type of cattle operation which has various elements

of the cow-calf operation. Between 25 and 35% of the herd

must be kept as breeding stock or as the "home herd." These

cattlemen try to buy thin and sell fat. The profit is found in

the difference between the weight gained and the cost of the

feed or pasture that was consumed to fatten the cattle up to

market size.

S Finally, it was discovered that some farms were raising

dairy calves on the bottle for a period of six months, then

they were sold to dairies to the east of Bradford County or

southwest near Tampa. These calves are bought for around $100

and fed on another $100; total costs are estimated at about

$200. The calves sell for $300, giving $100 as return to

management, land and labor. Usually, the intensive labor

requirements of bottle feeding tended to contain these operations

to between 30 to 65 pure bred holstein dairy calves' On several

occasions, the team observed laying hen houses or broiler opera-

tions occurring simultaneously with the smaller scale dairycalf

enterprises. However, some farmers were unhappy with the amount

they received for their produce and complain about having to

"pay union wages" for other production costs such as machinery,

equipment, and transportation. Many of these farmers were not

too sure of how long they would continue operating at a loss.

The team encountered large-scale beef cattlemen. who were

making a profit from the hay sales. All cattle-based systems

need hay to different extents, depending upon type and size

of the herd and land utilized for pastures. When the hetd size

drops below the carrying capacity of that land, the hay, usually

Coastal Bermuda, will continue to yield revenue throughout the

year. The hay operations increase labor requirements during

the summer months, since most farmers try to get three to five

cuttings. Weather and moisture are problems facing these farmers

as they must wait for the dew to dry before they can begin their

"hay day." Also, if a rain storm wets the hay, the farmer has

to wait several days until it has dried enough to make good hay

for market. If the hay is baled or rolled when it is wet,

the. quality is A-ovre) While hay in this condition cannot be

sold to dairy farms, a farmer can conserve the hay for domestic


The labor requirements of large-scale hay production have

shifted from small square bales, to large round to square bales,

and most recently, to smaller round bales which can be tightly

compressed to sizes of 4-feet wide by 5-feet high. Up to 15,000

pounds of pressure can be put on the belts that roll the hay,

and this creates weather proof packaging of market quality hay.

These 4-foot wide rolls will fit two wide and two high when

"nested" on a gooseneck flatbed trailer. The hauling charges

are diminished enough to pay for the transport to dairy farms.

Dairies needed hay during the droughts of the past few years

and hay remains the cheapest source of ruffagewhich'is.required

to keep butterfat content to desired levels. Citrus pulp and/or

cotton seed hulls can be substituted for hay, but when there is

a scarcity of hay, the prices of these substitutes rises accord-

ingly. During particular periods of high demand for hay in

these distant dairy regions, some hay dealers had to buy from

distant states to meet demands of regular customers. Since some

dairies agreed to pay higher prices for the scarce hay

irrigation wals used to hurry along the hay growth.

The profits in these hay operations depend primarily on :-

keeping labor cost minimized by handling the hay as little as

possible. This means investments in automatic square bale

stackers and tilt hay-wagons, but those ranchers that must decide

on this type of investment have very little trouble acquiring

loans for machinery through traditional lending institutions.

Of farmers seeking loans, 90%, it was reported, keep very few

records other than for taxes.

The traditional means of breeding isqfreenpange .crbse-'nc).

breeding. This involves putting out bulls for a 3-month breeding

season that starts in March. Since the majority of the commercial

cows are Brahman crosses, the rancher is interested in knowing

the effects of introducing new breeds to the area or ranch. Black

angus cattle are well-established in the county and several small

ranches near Starke specialized in pure bred Angus bulls.
Famers mentioned that they/are mating first-time heifers to angus

bulls since it can ease the calving. Red Angus are kept as

a high fertility breed with good maternal ability, post-weaning

gain and high yielding carcasses, usually bigger than Black

Angus breed. The Herford, Charolais, Polled Herford and Limousin

breeds have been more recently introduced; ranchers are anxious

to see the results. The main Zebu-European derivative breeds

are the Santa Gertrudis, Beefmaster, Brangus, and the Charbray.

These cattle operations are extremely dependent upon

cycles in cattle price markets and the livestock market with

which they sell their animals. The major markets are located in

in the Gainesville livestock market, and the Colombia Live Stock

Market in Lake City., where cattle are auctioned each Thursday

and feeder pigs are sold the first Wednesday of the month.

Cattle market reports are mailed weekly to regular buyers and


A new cattle market has been established in Ellisville,

Florida, called the North Florida Cooperative Livestock Market.

Members buy shares in the operation of the market and gain .'

dividends because the volume that the rancher deals through the

co-operative affects his revenue from his membership. Non-members

are also welcome. Last week 315 animals changed hands with normal

fluctuations between 290 and 1005 of slaughter class animals

with 60% of the yearlings going to feedlots or packing houses.

A number of ranchers in the Bradford atra indicated

that they are going to give their support to the new copop.

Since 1979, most farmers have had difficulty making loan payments

on the building which costs over $200,00.

Pasture management practices involve the spreading of

poultry manure and the use of flexible-line harrows to scatter

manure-piles. Liming and fertilization programs are carried

on most farms. The major grazing pastures are Coastal Bermuda

grass, Pensacola Bahaia grass, Alicia bermuda grass and

Argentine Bahai grass. Some farmers grow rye for winter folage,

but this is an expensive operation. A few farmers

grow. white and crimson clover in their pastures, but mixed

legume grass mixtures were not common. Rye grass, fescue and

dallis grass were also seen grown as evidence of improved pastures

being implemented.


There are three basic types of poultry operations found

in Bradford County: Layers, broilers, and breeders. Most of

the operations are commercial contracted, family-run broiler

or egg-laying operations with a cattle operation on the side.

In this family run business, the husband typically has an outside

job or does field work; and the wife cares for the poultry


The size of the poultry farms range from 15,000 to 60,000

chickens. The poultry farms provide a steady source of income

and are the main source of income in most cattle-poultry opera-

tions. We found no poultry farmer who said he was losing money.

Furthermore, new people are entering the business when the large

poultry companies say they need increased production.

Poultry companies such as Seaboard and Paramount supply

the feed, chicks, management advice, and veterinary service to

the poultry farmer. In return, the poultry farmer is respon-

sible for taking care of the chicks, maintaining the poultry

house and equipment. The companies do not provide credit for

entry into the field to new farmers. The farmers must secure

their own credit for the poultry houses from local lending

institutions. Collateral used is either the existing farm or

outside income from an off-farm job. Broiler and breeder

operations are automated, whereas, egg-laying operations are

either auotmated or not. The contract with the company offers

the advantages of reduced management, less input costs, and a

guaranteed market at the high enough price to make a profit.

Despite these advantages, several operators pointed out that

the current prices received for their eggs and broilers were

not much higher than they were twelve years ago.

Additionally, the poultry operation complements the cattle

operations bysupplying chicken manure for the pastures.

Broilers are raised from chicks and sold at 4 to 5 pounds

when they are 49 to 52 days old. The first two weeks, the

chicks are kept in brooders at 85 to 900F. Then the chicks are

allowed to run free in the house, but not before being debeaked.

Temperature is lowered to 800 F and food and water are placed

in overhanging containers which are raised as the chickens grow.

The company, after periodically visiting the operation, returns

for the harvest around the 49th day and using a fan-like machine,

gathers the ready-for-slaughter chickens. Normally six flocks

are raised each year. Thus, the farmer has money coming in at

six different times of the year.


For a layer operation, the farmer receives chicks at 17

weeks. Eggs are laid for one year with molting induced after

the first year to stimulate egg-laying. Approximately 80% of

the birds lay an egg each day. Eggs are picked up by hand or

by a conveyor belt system. A tractor with a scoop in front of

a conveyor belt is used to remove the chicken manure. Two to

three laborers are employed to collect eggs, dead chickens,

and to keep the place clean. This labor .usually comsr from the:

family, but sometimes involves employing labor in addition to what

the family can provide. The eggs are stored at 610 F until the

companies come to pick them up, usually every other day. In

both of these operations, the main cost for the companies is

feed. For the farmer, time is the major constraint--the chickens

have to be attended to every day of the week.

Vegetable Based-Farming Systems

There are two types of vegetable-based agricultural systems

in Bradford County--the small commercial vegetable grower and

the large commercial vegetable grower. The difference between

the two vegetable systems is sometimes arbitrary, but the systems

do make two distinct recommendation domains.

A third but less important form of vegetable production in

Bradford County is the family vegetable garden. Large, well-cared

for family gradens are seen next to most homes in the rural areas.

The family provides all of the care for the garden, and consumes

all the produce. The family garden may be an important source

of food for the family,:buttit will not be discussed closely

here because none of the produce from the family garden is sold


Small Commercial Vegetable Growers

The small commercial vegetable grower often farms an area

that is not much larger than a large family garden, but the small

grower sells a good part of his produce. The small grower is

typically a man in his fifties or sixties, born and bred in

Bradford County. Usually the small grower's father had also

been a vegetable grower in Bradford County. The small vegetable

grower of today, however, usually has a full-time job off the

farm and he does not consider himself a "REAL" farmer. The

farm usually does not make money, but it is supported by the

outside income of the farmer. The small grower usually does

not borrow money to farm, and he often does not want to expand

his vegetable operations.

The small vegetable grower usually owns less than 20

unforested acres, most or all of which are in vegetables. Farms

with more than 20 unforested acres tend to emphasize cattle

production. The grower's home is often on the same parcel of

land as the farm. A few of these growers mayrrent land for

vegetable production. These small vegetable growers are more

likbky not to have cattle than any other system seen in Bradford

County, and they are rarely associated with poultry operations.

There are numerous small growers located throughout the county,

but there is a concentration of small growers in the northern

part of the county around and to the west of Lawtey.

The small growers have older, unreliable low horsepower

tractors and are short of equipment, in general. Irrigation

equipment is occasionally seen. Growers without irrigation

equipment often say that irrigation is the best way to grow

vegetables, BUT that the high cost of the equipment, high interest

rates at the bank, and the lowering of water table prevent them

from purchasing irrigation equipment.

Some of the different crops grown by the small vegetable

growers are: strawberries, peppers, sweet corn, tomatoes, cabbage,

onions, soybeans, sugarcane, collards, cucumbers, watermelons,

cantaloupe, yellow squash, green squash and many more. The

strawberries, bell peppers, and sweet corn are probably the

most corps grown by these farmers. Strawberries and bell peppers

are particularly high in capital, fertilizer, and management

inputs. Both crops are grown under black plastic mulch. Rarely

will these farmers plant more than one acre of strawberries


"' "

or bell peppers. Strawberries and bell peppers are planted

as setts (or transplants). The setts are set (or transplanted)

by hand on the farms of these small farmers. Strawberrie setts

are usually purchased from large growers in Plant City, Florida.

Bell pepper setts are either purchased or grown on the farm.

To some degree, strawberries replace corn in the northern-p:att

of the county. Most vegetables are traditionally grown without

the plastic mulch. Insecticide use is high and growers often

complain about the high price and low effectiveness of the

insecticides. Poultry manure is not used on vegetables, because

it is believed to cause weeds. One grower aattally had both

his poultry manure and his poultry feed checked by the University

of Flowida for weed seed, but none was found. Chemical fertil-

izer use is high and over-fertilizationiis not uncommon.

Labor inputs are mostly or at times, entirely taken care

of by the family. The grower may hire labor during planting

if he is setting strawberries, bell peppers or other transplants.

Hiring labor is more common at harvest. Temporary laborers

are often local blacks. Migrant Mexican and Puerto Rican laborers

are available during certain seasons of the year. Mexican and

Puerto Rican laborers are paid by piecework, whereas, the

local black laborers are usually paid the hourly minimum wage.

High labor costs and lack of obtainable labor at the necessary

times are often mentioned by the farmers as problems.

The small growers have nol set marketing scheme. Their
marketing method may change from one/to the next. To sell

their produce, the small vegetable grower may: sell to friends,

sell at the roadside, peddle it in Gainesville, or sell it at

markets in Jacksonville, Starke, or Gainesville. The price

of their vegetables is volatile.but usually low. Growers speak

of vegetable:'prices as being "HIT OR MISS" or "JUST LIKE


The most important constraints for the small vegetable

grower in Bradford County are: (1) lack of time to manage the

farm, (2) unorganized marketing, (3) low produce prices,

(4) rising input prices, and (5) lack of availability of tempor-

ary labor.

LargeCommercial Vegetable Growers

The large commercial vegetable growers are in some ways

like the small vegetable growers. Both types of growers are

usually in their fifties or sixties, born and raised in Bradford

County, and their fathers usually were vegetable growers in

the county.; Both groups are more common in the northern part

of the county, even though there are only a small number of

these large growers in Bradford County. Poultry operations

are usually not associated with either group. Poultry manure

used as a fertilizer is not used by either group.

After these similarities, the two vegetable system become

very different.

The large commercial grower:

1. workss full-time at farming

2. depends on the farm for his livelihood

3. does not like to borrow money, but usually will

- )

4. owns several hundred acres in several different parcels
5. has over 100 acres in vegetables

6. rents land for vegetable production

7. owns large tracts of pasture but concentrates his

management effects on vegetable production

8. owns newer equipment, larger tractors, and irrigation


The large:grower tends to grow: cucumbers, strawberries, sweet

corn, yellow squash, green squash, watermelons, and many other

vegetables like his small grower counterpart. The basic pro-

duction techniques used by the large growers are the same as

those used by the small growers. the large grower, however,

manages his fields more intensively and uses more mechanization

in his field and marketing operations. The large grower also

monocrops most of his fields.

The large grower depends completely on hired labor to

do field work. The large grower employs some full-time permanent

laborers and hires temporary workers during planting and

harvest. The lack of available temporary laborers is a


Because the large growers have well-defined marketing

channels and good marketing connections, they can sell their-

produce. They sell in large quantities to brokers in Starke

or to buyers in Jacksonville. They sometimes sell through their

own retailing vegetable stands.

Systems Interaction

The interactions of the cattle-poultry, cattle-vegetable

and cattle/hay/row crops are discussed here. The cattle-poultry

operations complement each-:ther well. The poultry operation

offers a steady source of income in contrast to the fluctuating

prices for beef. The poultry operation does not require a lot

of hired labor and may be run by other members of the family.

This frees the wife or husband to be engaged in employment on

farm or off-farm elsewhere. Another advantage is that the

chicken manure provides a good source of nitrogen for the

pastures. This chicken manure will also be used on relatives'

and neighbors' pastures. In the poultry-cattle operations,

the poultry operation was usually the main source of income.

Likewise, the cattle-hay operations complement each other

well. Hay of insufficient quality to be sold may be used on

the pasture grown for hay to help keep the weed growth down.

A hay operation with steady customers which the Bradford County

farmers had, promotes a steady source of income to combat the

up-and-down prices for beef. There is currently a good market

for high quality hay in Florida. Hay operations are mechanized,

which means that the farmer does not have to hire a lot of labor,

which is a critical constraining factor in this area. Some

operators also raised field corn for their cattle.

The cattle and vegetable operations do not complement

each other as well. Like the fluctuating prices for beef,

prices for vegetables are also volatile. Adding this with

other vegetable growing contraints, such as availability of

labor, rising input prices, high interest rates and reliable

brokers, means that growing vegetables has more risks than a

poultry or hay operation.

For all 3 systems, inputs such as fertilizers, machinery

and credit are available locally. Some of the markets, however,

are not docal; they are located outside Bradford County.

For instance, vegetables are sold in Jacksonville, cattle markets

in Gainesville, and Ellisville, and hay markets in Tampa.

In summary, the main constraints for cattle, vegetable,

hay and poultry operations are as follows:

I. Cattle

FluCtuating price for beef

Land constraint

Pasture management


II. Vegetable--small commercial

Lack of land to manage the farm

Unorganized marketing

Low produce prices

Rising input prices

Lack of availability of temporary labor

III. Vegetable--large commercial

The low price caused by intense competition in the

open market

The lack of well functioning marketing facilities

in Starke

Rising input prices

High interest rates

Lack of availability of temporary labor

IV. Hay

Land constraint

Management constraint

V. Poultry

Company contracting price and size of the operation

The most important constraints for the large commercial

growers of Bradford County are:

the low price caused by intense competition in

the open market

the lack of well-functioning marketing facilities

in Starke

rising input prices

high interest rates.

Primary Recommendations

Now that all observations have been reported and the

constraints identified, we believe that certain modifications

to the existing farming systems can help to overcome some of

these constraints. First, we would like to pass along these

primary recommendations which are largely technical in nature:

1. Weeds, fungi and various insects all prevent the

farmer from realizing the full potential of his crops. These

pests cost a lot of money to control. Yet, the observation was

that the farmers do not have a well-defined sampling or scout-

ing system to give them a good indication of how serious or NOT

their pest problems really are. Following a prescribed procedure,

by IFAS--Pest Management Program on pest sampling or

scouting (for example, using a net in certain areas of a field),

the farmer could determine counts, relate them to the IFAS

publication on Economic Injury Levels and Economic Thresholds,

and then make a more intelligent decision on when to apply

pesticides. The farmers want to control pests and save money;

IFAS and the County Agent could help them by disseminating the

Pest Management information to them and even showing them pest

sampling methods in the field. The cattle farmers wanted speci-

fically to combat Fire Ants; AMDRO BAIT, a new product on the

market is recommended now.

2. The county could promote the testingoof soils during

a particular week in the year. The farmer could then associate

this particular time with soil testing in future years, and not

overlook it so easily, since his friends and neighbors would be

there to remind him. A liming program could be promoted at

the same time.

3. Given the important role that farm wives are assuming

in the financial management of most farm operations and in view

of the present financial squeeze on farmers, as a whole, it is

suggested that some specialized courses in tax law, estate

planning and financial farm management would be well received.

These courses, taught by local experts, like Certified Public

Accountants, and bank officers, might supplement the financial

management courses that the home economist is planning.

Primary Recommendations

4. For farmers interested in improved pasture on a limited

management basis, white clover can be established in existing

bahia grass stands to give a full year's use to the field.

Additionally, a simple rotation grazing system may be established

to take full advantage of the grass legume mix. It appears

that if the farmers were willing to maintain their pastures,

they could hire a customebaler and pay him with income from

the marketed hay; or they could rent the acreage to the custom-

baler and still make money.

5. Lack of a reliable vegetable broker and .:cooling facilities

(for such vegetables eissweet corn) makes marketing a serious

problem to vegetables in Bradford County. It is therefore,

suggested that a county farm market committee be set up to

study what can be done to establish a reliable market with

cooling facilities.

The County could promote the testing of soils during

a particular week in the year. The farmer could then associate

this particular time with SOIL testing in future years, and

not overlook /: so easily since his friends and neighbors would

be there to remind him. A liming program could be promoted

at the same time.

Secondary Recommendations

1. Since many of the farmers can only farm at night after

their full-time job, and on weekends, the Extension service could

probably serve this large segment of the population better by

opening Saturday morning and/or one evening per week.

2. Vegetable growers are eager to try new varieties and

perhaps even new specialty market vegetables. The county agent

could supply the most recent publications on new varieties.

3. Alternative crops, such as honeybee raising, catfish

farming or improving neglected pecan trees could provide '

interested Bradford County farmers with a supplemental income.

4. Attention was raised to the disease potential of

the chicken droppings as an agent of histoplasmosis. It is

suggested that the Home Economist of the county agents office

advise the farmers of-this potential hazard.

5. The three bl~ck farmers we visited, suggest that

there may be other black farmers who would be receptive to

extension programs.

6. Since the vegetable crop farmers depend on migrant

labor for the harvesting of their crops, the migration patterns

of these laborers from South Florida northward, could be

recorded so that farmers could coordinate expected harvest time

with labor availability.


The methodology:.used for the field work involved the

Sondeo approach which has specifically become associated with

Farming Systems Research (FSR). The major features of the

methodology which the group replicated in Bradford County are:

1. the use of interdisciplinary teams

2. farmers involvement in the identification of constraints

3. group input in the production of a final report.

Interdisciplinary Teams

The Group was made up of agronomists (3), anthropologists

(2), food resource economists (4), and an agricultural exten-

sionist. The group was divided into five working teams of two

researchers. Each team was assigned to one of five sectors

in the county at each time. The teams discussed their findings

after the morning sessions, and reassigned to another sector

in the afternoon. In this way, the multidisciplinary perspective

of the researchers was utilized in all the sector observations

on existing farming systems. The first interviews were held all

day Saturday, March 20, 1982; more were held on Tuesday, March 23,

1982, and all day Saturday, March 27th. Each team was given a

plat map with one of the five areas clearly delineated. Thus

the teams were able to choose their interviewees by using the

plat map as a guide, by talking with neighbors of farmers, or

simply by dropping in at random.

Farmer's Involvement in Identifying Constraints

Teams always made it clear that they were students

interested in learning about the farmers' operations and their

problems in farming. Farmers were, therefore, made to understand

that the teams were visiting their farms to learn about existing

and potential constraints to particular farm systems and to

county agriculture, in general. These interviews were spontaneous;

no writing materials were used. Observations were written up

after the team had left the farmer and were out of sight. The

on-farm problems that farmers discussed with the teams were to

be incorporated into a report prepared for IFAS.

Group Input in Report Preparation

The collection of secondary data such as history, socio-

economic variables, soils and climate, along with the write-up

of individual observations, afforded the members of the group to

work with information and data from their traditional disciplines.

Finally, group discussions and analyses of the individual observa-

tions in the preparation of this report, demonstrated the applica-

tion of the multi-disciplinary approach of the Sondeo methodology.


The main objectives of the Bradford County Sondeo were:

1. to provide students with a personal experience in the Sondeo technique

2. to enable the student team members to identify the homogenous farming

systems of the county,

3. to enable the student-team members to identify the major constraints

of the farming systems, and ...,

4. to propose certain modifications of technology to the farmers as

appropriate to their conditions.

Through the survey, students would acquire a better understanding of the

nature of family farms and the holistic relationship between household,

crops, livestock, and markets.

It is hoped that this general report will prove useful for any future work

that seeks to design efficient technologies meant to increase production,

augment farm incomes and improve the work and living standards of the


University of Florida Home Page
© 2004 - 2010 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.

Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement
Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs