Utah's Vegetable Growers: Assessing Sustainable Agriculture

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  • 1 Assistant professor and extension vegetable specialist, Plants, Soils and Biometeorology Dept, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4820.
  • 2 Professor, Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Dept, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4820.
  • 3 Research assistant, Agricultural Systems Technology and Education Dept, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-4820.

Without a clear understanding of individual farms and farming practice, progression toward more sustainable vegetable production cannot occur. Seventy randomly selected vegetable farmers in Utah were surveyed by telephone and mail to gather baseline data on their agricultural practices. The Utah vegetable farmers profile generated by this survey included a measure of each respondent's attitude toward sustainable agricultural practices and his or her interest in further cooperation with research and extension. A farming index to measure practices used and a perceptual index measuring farmer's views regarding sustainable practices were developed, pilot tested, and refined during the project. Although the perceptual index did not serve as a proxy for actual farm practice, it identified farmers who had an appreciation for sustainable agriculture. Together with the farming index, we now have detailed information on actual farm practices for a variety of different vegetable farmer groups. The use of these two indices will help measure the effectiveness of future research and extension efforts as farmers progress toward more sustainable vegetable production.

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