2015: 2nd Quarter (January, February, March) Advisory Report Back »

Agriculture and Natural Resources Program

For the 2nd quarter of fiscal year 2015 (January, February, March), the Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Extension Field Specialists utilized several approaches to obtain feedback from stakeholders during focus groups and extension meetings.


Livestock/Range

The economic impact of the livestock industry in SD is very significant. Feedback from livestock producers was mostly obtained through three approaches: surveys, direct stakeholder feedback, and on-farm research. Field Specialists (FS) conducted in 2014 (and will conduct during 2015) surveys with stakeholders specific to their subject. Surveys will garner information on the audience’s issues and needs. Livestock SDSU Extension programs have concentrated on beef, dairy and sheep (swine FS still to be filled). The economic impact per animal of each livestock species for SD is as follows: dairy $13,594, swine 6,453, beef $1,700, and sheep $257. When the population for each species is considered the respective sectors bring close to the following amounts in billion dollars: beef $2.8, pork $2.2, dairy $1.3 while sheep bring $57 million.

Surveys

  • Forages. A survey was sent by a Forage FS to 230 livestock producers. With 80 replying. A 35% response rate (usually 20%) stressed the interest in providing input to Extension. Counties represented were: Beadle (1); Brookings (9); Brown (2); Bruce (1); Chamberlain (1); Charles Mix (1); Clark (1); Codington (6); Davison (2); Day (1); Deuel (3); Douglas (1); Grant (9); Gregory (2); Hamlin (3); Hanson (2); Hutchinson (5); Lawrence (1); Lincoln (1); Marshall (3); Miner (3); Minnehaha (4); Moody (3); Roberts (4); Spink (2); Turner (7); Union (2); and Yankton (2). As a result joint extension programming was offered to minorities by 2 FS and one Extension Specialist.
  • Dairy Extension used a producer’s survey to assess issues and needs of dairy producers in the state. The survey was sent to all Grade A dairy producers in the state (200+) through the I-29 Dairy Outreach Consortium (DOC). The DOC is an established learning community cooperative effort of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, and Nebraska University Extension Personnel along with the SW Minnesota Dairy Profit Group, Western Iowa Dairy Alliance, Midwest Dairy Association, and South Dakota Dairy Producers. Determination of the most relevant topics to dairy producers led to the offering of two multi-state highly successful on-site workshops: “Boots on the Farm Heifer Growers Tour” and “Raising Your Best Calf Ever Workshops”

Programs tailored through stakeholder feedback

SDSU Extension ANR FS use grassroots feedback to create new or tailor older programs from feedback received during formal and/or informal meetings. Examples:

  • Focus group with beef producers and animal nutrition industry leaders led to a one-day conference in Mitchell on Maintaining Beef Cows on Dry Lots. More than 140 people attended. Comments from attendee: “Will use partial confinement to expand beef cow herd”.
  • Short-term evaluation of Sustaining the Legacy led to be modified from a 1-day event to 3-day sessions (overnight required) over two months.
  • Northern States Beef Conference was created per request of the expanding state beef herds. Herds represented in the 2014 meeting were 3 times larger than the average beef herd in SD. The program attracted an audience that didn’t use SDSU Extension before. Comments: of one attendee: “It’s nice to read something that’s not just Beef 101.”
  • Sheep SD Programming is driven by producer’s recommendations, interests, and needs; topics are initiated by SheepSD participants. Example: program organized using a SD Sheep Grower's Association “Master Lamb Producer” (Nisland, SD) had 37 people (15 sheepSD) in attendance. Focus group meetings determined the largest issues affecting sheep growers in SD are: 1. financial assistance, 2. predator control, and 3. markets for lamb and wool.
  • Lender’s Conference. Input from lenders was used to develop agenda and topics for the program. Topics: crop production costs, market outlook, general economy, and Farm Bill. Input from attendees used to plan and develop 2015 conference.

On-farm research

  • Managing variable costs on dairy farms through energy use assessment and conservation”. Funding: North Central Risk Management Education Center and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  • On-farm project: Growth and health of pre-weaned dairy heifers fed PROTERNATIVE® SF in combination with LEVUCELL® S. Goals: 1. Increase grant/contract proposal submissions to public, NGO, and private sources. 2: Enhance applied research projects in cooperation with industry. This project funded half of the research of an SDSU MS student.

In-State Networking and Interaction with Non-Profit Agencies

  • Focus groups with beef producers and animal nutrition industry leaders.
  • Focus groups with sheep producers.
  • Regular meetings with South Dakota Dairy Producers.
  • Field & State Specialists offered a proposal to the South Dakota Raw Milk Working Group for Food Safety training in raw milk for human consumption. The proposal was approved and will be a draft proposal for South Dakota lawmakers.
  • Networking with USDA FAS on farm Bill Instruction for producers.
  • We need to make the state increases land productivity of its 19 million acres of cropland without degrading the 23 million acres of pastureland which are critical to the health of the ecosystem. SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources has given priority to improve grasslands in the state through programs that sustain the biodiversity of plants and animals on the range. SDSU Extension has worked very close with the SD Grassland Coalition (stakeholders include private landowners and fed/state/NGO partners including: USFWS, SD GFP, NRCS, TNC, Pheasants Forever, World Wildlife Fund, etc.). Highlights included the Sustainable Beef meeting and tour, SD Grazing School, Alan Savory field day and Lecture, SD Bird Tour, etc.). In addition, SDSU Extension works with NRCS staff through Extension livestock teams on general outreach on soil health and water management, using range as our best examples of high-quality soils. With NRCS and Pheasants Forever through multi-partner Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership, SDSU Range has delivered NRCS/Landowner prescribed fire planning training courses in Lemmon, Rapid, and Winner.

Crops

Feedback from crop farmers was also obtained through mainly three approaches: direct stakeholder feedback, interaction during programmatic activities, and on-farm research/demonstrations. During 2015 Agronomy Field Specialists (FS) will also conduct surveys specific to their subject. Surveys will garner information on issues and needs of crop farmers. South Dakota leads the country on per capita production of the US major crops. With 5.3 million acres of corn planted and 6.2 million tons of grain harvested South Dakota was 6th in the US during 2014, trailing only Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Indiana in that order. When corn production is analyzed on a per person basis however South Dakota is number one in the country with 922 bushels. South Dakota was 8th in the country in 2014 in total volume of soybeans produced. However, we were again number one in the nation in per capita production with 270 bushels, 66% more than the closest state, Iowa. From this perspective SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources has prioritized programs that enhance production and profitability while maintaining or even improving the environment. Critical to this approach is being able to maintain soil health.

Informal Non-structured Conversations

  • Women in Science Conference. Informal conversation led to identifying speakers in science-related fields. Feedback obtained via informal conversations will be considered in future programming for the Women in Science conference.
  • Private Applicator Training (PAT), Commercial A. T. (CAT)
    • PAT and CAT provide information on how to handle pesticides safely. Producers call Extension about how to discard unused pesticides. Multiple attendees have spoken at the meetings or called later to suggest improved technology for web conferencing (currently Collaborate). Based on feedback SDSU Extension is arranging to have DDN available for 2016 sessions.
    • Participants were asked about their ability to manage seedling diseases of soybean had improved based on what they learned in the meetings. Almost 70% agreed and now scout fields (491 total) and identify pests before spraying. More than 70% use SDSU suggestions when making management decisions.
  • Managing seedling diseases. From the total, 57% incorporated seed treatments after training and 39% now utilize resistant varieties; 7% made changes in planting dates.
  • SDSU Agronomy Short Course. From the total, 78% stated plant pathology knowledge increased, and 67% stated they were more likely to implement Integrated Pest Management.
  • Integrated Pest Management IPM. Health discussion at IPM schools led to one-on-one field visits with crop growers to discuss several topics. One example being the difference in soil characteristics between long-term no-till vs conventional till.
  • After the blizzard meetings increased visibility of SDSU Extension in western SD resulting in calls and e-mails with questions on production as well as Extension participation in the Rosebud Sioux Reservation tribal council and the Sinte Gleska University board planning meetings.
  • Dakotafest was another venue where SDSU Extension received stakeholder’s feedback on topics of interest and impact to the state.
  • Integrated Pest Management IPM. The discussion between soil properties in no-till and conventional till resulted in a Field Specialist being invited to speak at an industry-sponsored agronomy compared to conventional tillage.
  • SD Corn Council requested coordination of a Japanese delegation of Ag. Consultants to a dairy in Elkton, SD. State Specialist Presented to Japanese group at SDSU on Agriculture in SD.

On-farm demonstrations/research

  • Wheat, Oats, Peas Variety Trial Summer Tours (4 locations during 2014 with more than 140 attendees). During these on-farm demonstrations:
    • Third party variety trials help farmers make informed purchase decisions.
    • They witness how varieties grow and yield in their specific geographic area.
    • They provide input about future crops/varieties to test.
  • Applied on-farm research:
    • SDSU Extension has been in contact with crop farmers on research topics on cover crops and soil salinity.
    • SDSU Extension is currently designing and has identified the site for on-farm alfalfa research on saline soils in Redfield, SD.
    • One topic of interest among crop farmers was to investigate the possibility of growing either short-season or early maturity soybeans to have time to incorporate small grains (winter wheat) in the rotation.
    • SDSU Extension Field Specialists cooperated in a grass fertility trial. Several rates of N and P were applied to a long-term CRP field in on a producer’s site. The results were dramatic; other producers used them to fertilize their own grass successfully.
    • On-farm pilot project created to understand the pest insect status in alfalfa and current practices followed by producers in Butte and Haakon Counties and monitoring their fields frequently during the season. SDSU Extension has met with farmers frequently during the crop season to provide updates and forecasts of alfalfa caterpillars, weevils, blister beetles, lygus bugs and their natural enemies. It has demonstrated scouting methods for alfalfa weevils using sweep nets and bucket methods. Impacts: producers were able to make spraying decisions and select chemicals through educated and unbiased suggestions. New producers are showing continuous interest to participate in this network.

In-State Networking and Interaction with Non-Profit Agencies

  • Networking with USDA FAS on farm Bill Instruction for producers.
  • Field Pea Production/Promotion Grant. A special Crop Block Grant Fund underwrites the expenses of a Field Pea Production Manual for SD and 2 videos on Field Pea Production. These are going to be critical for farmers using field peas in their rotations.
  • SD Soybean Research and Promotion Council. A pre-proposal was submitted to conduct cover crop research during 2015. Collaborators in other regions will be identified by members of the team.
  • We need to make the state increases land productivity of its 19 million acres of cropland without degrading the 23 million acres of pastureland which are critical to the health of the ecosystem. SDSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources has given priority to improve grasslands in the state through programs that sustain the biodiversity of plants and animals on the range. SDSU Extension works with NRCS staff through Extension crops on general outreach on soil health and water management, using range as our best examples of high-quality soils. With NRCS and Pheasants Forever through multi-partner Prairie Coteau Habitat Partnership, SDSU Range has delivered NRCS/Landowner prescribed fire planning training courses in Lemmon, Rapid, and Winner.
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