We gratefully acknowledge the help of the following individuals who assisted with the development of the Iowa State University Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture (GPSA) and GPSA documents: Matt Liebman, Ricardo Salvador, Lorna Michael
Jill Shore Auburn
The Internet has experienced tremendous growth recently. The number of users, the amount and diversity of information available, and exposure in the mass media have all grown rapidly. Several authors recently have asserted that the media reports are overblown and that Internet is not as useful as most reports portray. Agricultural professionals need to assess whether or not the cost of using the Internet (in learning time as well as money) will benefit them in terms of increased knowledge and productivity. This paper describes current use of the Internet to answer practical questions from research and education, using a survey and practical examples from sustainable agriculture.
Daniel Drost, Gilbert Long, and Kimberlee Hales
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.
Heather Friedrich*, Curt R. Rom, Jennie Popp, Barbara Bellows, and Donn Johnson
Interest IN and conversion to sustainable agriculture practices, such as organic agriculture, integrated pest management or increasing biodiversity, has been increasing for a number of years among farmers and ranchers across the United States In order to meet the needs of producers, university researchers and educators must adapt their program areas to reflect this change toward sustainable agriculture practices. Although consumers, producers, and extension workers have been surveyed regarding their attitudes and interests in sustainable agricultural practices, few surveys have examined sustainable agriculture perceptions among university agriculture professionals. The object of this study was to survey 200 agriculture professionals, including research scientists, classroom educators of the Land-Grant agricultural college and the Cooperative Extension service of a southern state with a traditional agricultural economy in order to determine their perceptions and attitudes toward sustainable agriculture and to gather information on current research and education activities relevant to sustainable agriculture. Seventy-eight questions were asked concerning professional incentives, personal and professional importance of topics under the sustainable agriculture rubric, current research and educational activities, and demographics. By conducting this research we hope to identify factors that are an impedance or assistance to future research and education to support sustainable agriculture. The survey findings will provide a foundation for directing and developing agriculture research and education programs for row crops, fruit, vegetable and livestock production.
While enrollment is dropping in many commodity-based curriculums, one key program area of interest to many students is sustainable agriculture. Some land-grant universities are initiating undergraduate and graduate programs, or concentrations in Sustainable Agriculture, to meet this student demand. Many smaller colleges (for example, Delaware Valley College, Slippery Rock Univ., and Warren Wilson College) are also offering a focus in this area as well. These programs often include an experiential learning component through internships and other hands-on activities. Examples of some of the courses being offered include Principles and Practices of Sustainable Agriculture, Agricultural Ecosystems, Sustainable Agriculture Processes in Plant Horticulture and Animal Husbandry, and Fertility Considerations in Regenerative Agriculture. In this presentation, I summarize ongoing programs nationwide, and discuss the impact these programs are having on student enrollment.
Marvin L. Baker
In North America, cultivation of Mayhaws (Crataegus opaca L.) is rare; most commercial harvest is taken from the wild. Crataegus opaca is distributed in northeast Texas, east Texas and southeast Texas along the flood plains of the Angelina and Neuches rivers and their watersheds. Mayhaws are difficult to define due to unusual factors relating to reproduction, including apomixis, or the development of an embryo from cells other than sex cells. Mayhaws are valued for economic use as food, medicine and ornamentals. Since the hawthorn has shown extremely low toxicity in every animal tested, the discovery of isolated constituents thru research has caused pharmacological interest. A small orchard plot of selections with ripened fruit measuring larger than 2.5 cm up to 3.1 cm with bright red or pink color is being established for selecting possible cultivars for medicinal or food uses.
Five Crataegus opaca selections were collected due to showing spurtype, large fruits and thornlessness. Yearly production of fruit was noted for five years (even after late freezes) while selections grew in Taggert's Flat, Neuches river bottom, Angelina County. Seedlings are being grafted for further evaluations and uses in sustainable agricultural ecosystems.
M.S. Schroeder, N.G. Creamer, H.M Linker, J.P. Mueller, and P. Rzewnicki
There is an increasing demand for education in organic and sustainable agriculture from undergraduates, graduate students and extension agents. In this paper, we discuss highlights and evaluations of a multilevel approach to education currently being developed at North Carolina State University (NCSU) that integrates interdisciplinary training in organic and sustainable agriculture and the related discipline of agroecology through a variety of programs for undergraduate students, graduate students, and extension agents. These educational programs are possible because of a committed interdisciplinary faculty team and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, a facility dedicated to sustainable and organic agriculture research, education, and outreach. Undergraduate programs include an inquiry-based sustainable agriculture summer internship program, a sustainable agriculture apprenticeship program, and an interdisciplinary agroecology minor that includes two newly developed courses in agroecology and a web-based agroecology course. Research projects and a diversity of courses focusing on aspects of sustainable and organic agriculture are available at NCSU for graduate students and a PhD sustainable agriculture minor is under development. A series of workshops on organic systems training offered as a graduate-level course at NCSU for extension agents is also described. Connecting experiential training to a strong interdisciplinary academic curriculum in organic and sustainable agriculture was a primary objective and a common element across all programs. We believe the NCSU educational approach and programs described here may offer insights for other land grant universities considering developing multilevel sustainable agriculture educational programs.
Helene Murray, Donald L. Wyse, and Emily E. Hoover
Minnesota has a long history of strong citizen involvement in environmental, community development, economic development, and human rights issues. Therefore, it is not surprising there are many individuals, organizations, communities, and educational institutions in Minnesota actively involved in the sustainable agriculture debate. The challenge we face is how to help these strong forces work in collaboration to solve rural problem s.
In 1990 representatives of five community-based organizations and the U of M agreed to form the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) to be housed at the University and governed by a board of community and University representatives. The purpose of MISA is to bring farmers and other sustainable agriculture community interests together with University administrators, educators, researchers, and students in a cooperative effort to undertake innovative, agenda-setting programs that might not otherwise be pursued in the state.
The challenges facing horticultural production in the Northeast are many: Pests that are increasingly resistant to conventional controls; eroding profitability; increasing consumer concern about residues in food and water supplies.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is working to find solutions to these problems. SARE-supported research is developing practices that will help reduce producers reliance on pesticides and other purchased inputs while maintaining farm profitability.
In the Northeast, SARE has provided about $5 million in grants since 1983 to about 50 projects. Many focus on horticultural crops, such as apples, small fruit, sod and ornamental plants. Some strategies developed through SARE projects are already being adopted at the farm level.
Last year, the program allocated $1.461 million to 16 projects. This year, the Northeast Region expects to distribute a similar or slightly lower amount of grant funding. In addition, the region established a new $100,000 farmer mini-grant program to promote adoption of sustainable practices and in novations on the farm.
Carol Miles, Lisa DeVetter, Shuresh Ghimire, and Douglas G. Hayes
the end of the season without compromising soil quality or the environment could be an asset for sustainable agriculture. It is worth noting that if biodegradable mulch enters the plastic recycling stream it will contaminate the recycled feedstock