Selecting Preferred Land Application Sites: Extension Curricula for Interactive Land Application Education

preview of map in progress
The curricula contains a map where participants keep track of their progress visually as they work through the different activities.

An educational curricula was pilot tested in 2020 by Extension professionals in Nebraska and Minnesota. It utilizes a table-top sized map game board, six pre-planned scenarios, and interactive planning by small groups to select preferred manure application sites. The curricula addresses:

    • How far will I need to travel to manage manure nitrogen? Phosphorus?
    • Which fields benefit the most agronomically from manure?
    • How far can I afford to travel?
    • Which fields benefit most from manure’s soil health benefits?
    • What water quality risks are connected with individual fields?
    • How can I use a weather forecast to minimize neighbor’s odor risks?

These activities often lead to lots of peer-to-peer teaching. For example, we have witnessed discussions about minimizing compactions and planning to minimize impacts on community infrastructure and neighbors. As participants work through these discussions, they add their happy and sad face emojis to the map to weigh the benefits and concerns connected to individual fields.

Resources Available for Adapting to Your State

The curricula includes:

preview of factsheets and worksheets
Factsheets complement each activity’s main worksheet, helping the participants make their decision on which field is the best for manure application.
    • a 25-square mile map,
    • scenarios set up for six alternative animal feeding operations (you pick one for your group),
    • four alternative fields for land application with simplified information cards (soil tests, soil health tests, nutrient requirements, water quality risk indicators), and
    • worksheets and one-page information sheets for each of the six scenarios.

You may download electronic copies of all resources, adapt to your state, and begin sharing a highly interactive and peer-to-peer educational experience.

Downloadable Resources

Thank you for your interest in the curricula. Please fill out the following form to access the files:

Contacts

Leslie Johnson, Rick Koelsch and Amy Schmidt

Field Technology & Water Quality Outreach

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Purpose

In 2015, Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) partnered with local and state agencies to help identify potential sources of fecal coliform bacteria that were impacting shellfish beds in northwest Washington.  WSDA and Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) program partners began collecting ambient, as well as rain-driven, source identification water samples. Large watersheds with multiple sub-basins, changing weather and field conditions, and recent nutrient applications, meant new sites were added almost daily. The increased sampling created an avalanche of new data. With this data, we needed to figure out how to share it in a way that was timely, clear and could motivate change. Picture of water quality data via spreadsheet, graphs, and maps.

Conveying complex water quality results to a broad audience can be challenging. Previously, water quality data would be shared with the public and partners through spreadsheets or graphs via email, meetings or quarterly updates. However, the data that was being shared was often too late or too overwhelming to link locations, weather or field conditions to water quality. Even though plenty of data was available, it was difficult for it to have meaningful context to the general public.

Ease of access to results can help inform landowners of hot spots near their home, it can link recent weather and their own land management practices with water quality, as well as inform and influence decision-making.

What Did We Do?

Using basic GIS tools we created an interactive map, to share recent water quality results. The map is available on smartphones, tablets and personal computers, displaying near-real-time results from multiple agencies.  Viewers can access the map 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We have noticed increPicture of basic GIS tool.ased engagement from our dairy producers, with many checking the results map regularly for updates. The map is symbolized with graduated stop light symbology, with poor water quality shown in red and good in green. If they see a red dot or “hot spot” in their neighborhood they may stop us on the street, send an email, or call with ideas or observations of what they believe may have influenced water quality. It has opened the door to conversations and partnerships in identifying and correcting possible influences from their farm.

The map also contains historic results data for each site, which can show changes in water quality. It allows the viewer to evaluate if the results are the norm or an anomaly. “Are high results after a rainfall event or when my animals are on that pasture?”

The online map has also increased engagement with our Canadian neighbors to the north. By collecting samples at the US/Canadian border we have been able to map streams where elevated bacteria levels come across the border. This has created an opportunity to partner with our Canadian counterparts to continue to identify and correct sources.

What Have We Learned?

You do not need to be a GIS professional to create an app like this for your organization. Learning the system and fine-tuning the web application can take some time, but it is well worth the investment. GIS skills derived from this project have proven invaluable as the app transfers to other areas of non-point work.  The web application has created great efficiencies in collaboration, allowing field staff to quickly evaluate water quality trends in order to spend their time where it is most needed. The application has also provided transparency to the public regarding our field work, demonstrating why we are sampling particular areas.

From producer surveys, we have learned that viewers prefer a one-stop portal for information. Viewers are less concerned about what agency collected the data as they are interested in what the data says. This includes recent, as well as historical water quality data, field observations; such as wildlife or livestock presence or other potential sources. Also, a brief weekly overview of conditions, observations and/or trends has been requested to provide additional context.

Future Plans

The ease and efficiency of the mobile mapping and data sharing has opened the door to other collaborative projects. Currently we are developing a “Nutrient Tracker” application that allows all PIC partners to easily update a map from the field. The map allows the user to log recent field applications of manure. Using polygons to draw the area on the field, staff can note the date nutrients were identified, type of application, proximity to surface water, if it was a low-, medium- or high-risk application, if follow-up is warranted, and what agency would be the lead contact. This is a helpful tool in learning how producers utilize nutrients, to refer properties of concern to the appropriate agency, and to evaluate recent water quality results against known applications.

Developing another outreach tool, WSDA is collecting 5 years of fall soil nitrate tests from all dairy fields in Washington State. The goal is to create a visual representation of soil data, to demonstrate to producers how nitrate levels on fields have changed from year to year, and to easily identify areas that need to be re-evaluated when making nutrient application decisions.

As part of a collaborative Pollution Identification and Correction (PIC) group, we would like to create a “Story Map” that details the current situation, why it is a concern, explain potential sources and what steps can be taken at an individual level to make a difference. A map that visually demonstrates where the watersheds are and how local neighborhoods really do connect to people 7 miles downstream.  An interactive map that not only shows sampling locations, but allows the viewer to drill down deeper for more information about the focus areas, such as pop-ups that explain what fecal coliform bacteria are and what factors can increase bacteria levels. We envision a multi-layer map that includes 24-hour rainfall, river rise, and shellfish bed closures. This interactive map will also share success stories as well as on-going efforts.

Author

Kerri Love, Dairy Nutrient Inspector, Dairy Nutrient Management Program, Washington State Department of Agriculture

klove@agr.wa.gov

Additional Information

Results Map Link: http://arcg.is/1Q9tF48

Washington Shellfish Initiative: http://www.governor.wa.gov/issues/issues/energy-environment/shellfish

Mobile Mapping Technology presentation by Michael Isensee, 2016 National CAFO Roundtable

Sharing the Data: Interactive Maps Provide Rapid Feedback on Recent Water Quality and Incite Change by Educating the Public, Kyrre Flege, Washington State Department of Agriculture and Jessica Kirkpatrick, Washington State Department of Ecology,  2016 National Non-Point Source Monitoring Workshop

Whatcom County PIC Program: http://www.whatcomcounty.us/1072/Water-Quality

Skagit County, Clean Samish Initiative: https://www.skagitcounty.net/Departments/PublicWorksCleanWater/cleansamish.htm

Lower Stillguamish PIC Program: http://snohomishcountywa.gov/3344/Lower-Stilly-PIC-Program

GIS Web Applications: http://doc.arcgis.com/en/web-appbuilder/

Acknowledgements

The web application was a collaborative project developed by Kyrre Flege, Washington State Department of Agriculture and Jessica Kirkpatrick, Washington State Department of Ecology.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Transferring Knowledge of Dairy Sustainability Issues Through a Multi-layered Interactive “Virtual Farm” Website

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Purpose

The goal of the Sustainable Dairy “Virtual Farm” website is to disseminate research-based information to diverse audiences from one platform. This is done with layers of information starting with the mSustainable dairy logoost basic then drilling down to peer-reviewed publications, data from life-cycle assessment studies and models related to the topics. The Virtual Farm focuses on decision makers and stakeholders including consumers, producers, policymakers, scientists and students who are interested in milk production on modern dairy farms. The top entry level of the site navigates through agricultural topics of interest to the general public. Producers can navigate to a middle level to learn about practices and how they might help them continue to produce milk for consumers responsibly in a changing climate while maintaining profitability. Featured beneficial (best) management practices (BMPs) reflect options related to dairy sustainability, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, and milk production. Researchers can navigate directly to deeper levels to publications, tools, models, and scientific data. The website is designed to encourage users to dig deeper and discover more detailed information as their interest develops related to sustainable dairies and the environment.

What did we do?

As part of a USDA Dairy Coordinated Agricultural Project addressing climate change issues in the Great Lakes region, this online platform was developed to house various products of the transdisciplinary project in an accessible learning site. The Virtual Farm provides information about issues surrounding milk production, sustainability, and farm-related greenhouse gases. The web interface features a user-friendly, visually-appealing interactive “virtual farm” that explains these issues starting at a less-technical level, while also leading to much deeper research into each area. The idea behind this was to engage a general audience, then encourage them to dig deeper into the website for more technical information via Extension offerings.

The main landing page shows two sizes of dairy farms: 150 and 1,500-cows. The primary concept was to replace an all-day tour of multiple real dairy farms by combining their features into one ‘virtual farm’. For example, the virtual farm can describe and demonstrate the impact of various manure processing technologies. Users can explore the layout image, hover over labeled features for a brief description, and click to learn more about five main categories: crops and soils, manure management, milk production, herd management, and feed management. Each category page contains a narrative overview with illustrations and links to more detailed information.

What have we learned?

The primary benefit is that participants can learn about different practices, at their level of interest, all in one place. The virtual farm incorporates a broad theme of sustainability targeted at farming operations in the northeastern Great Lakes region of the USA.

The project has included regional differences in dairy farming practices and some important reasons for this such as environmental concerns (focus on N and/or P management in different watersheds) and long-term climate projections. Dairy industry supporters find value in having a one-stop repository of information on overall sustainability topics rather than having to visit various organizations’ sites.

Future Plans

We plan to continue to develop the website by adding relevant information, keeping information up to date, developing the platform for related topic areas and adding curriculums for school students.

Corresponding author, title, and affiliation

Daniel Hofstetter, Extension-Research Assistant, Penn State University (PSU)

Corresponding author email

dwh5212@psu.edu

Other authors

Eileen Fabian-Wheeler, Professor, PSU; Rebecca Larson, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin (UW); Horacio Aguirre-Villegas, Assistant Scientist, UW; Carolyn Betz, Project Manager, UW; Matt Ruark, Associate Professor, UW

Additional information

Visit the following link for more information about the Sustainable Dairy CAP Project:

http://www.sustainabledairy.org

Acknowledgements

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2013-68002-20525. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2017. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Cary, NC. April 18-21, 2017. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Making Sense of Smells – Communicating Odors to Diverse Audiences

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Example of odor visualization system using colors and shapes to replace chemical jargon.

Why Is Smell and Odor Important to Animal Agriculture?

Smell is perhaps the least understood of our five senses.  Yet, the human perception of odor may mean the difference between war and peace for a livestock farmer and his neighbors.  Because the science of  smells is complex, there is a tendency to run straight for the organic chemistry book when we try to describe farmstead odors.  This approach goes right over the heads of most people.  There must be a better way to communicate odors to diverse audiences.  This workshop can be utilized by teachers or extension staff to teach about communication of a topic that is frequently encountered by farmers, ag professionals, and others. To see the presentation slides, scroll to the bottom of the page.

Learning Objectives

This two hour workshop will explain how to use an innovative visual technique to describe farmstead odors to general audiences without resorting to chemical jargon.  The visualization technique based on shapes and colors was developed at Oklahoma State University in the mid 1990s, and has been used to talk about odors with many diverse audiences.  The method demonstrates that odors have “structure”, and can be measured using the four concepts: character, concentration, intensity, and persistence.

Students will also participate in a mock laboratory exercise to demonstrate how odor intensity and pleasantness are measured.  Results of the exercise will be analyzed in “real time”.  Further analyses of previous exercise runs will be compared and contrasted to the workshop results.  This laboratory has been presented to over 250 college freshmen and their results are presented in this recording.

Workshop Introduction

What is an Odor?

Measuring Odors

Odor Experiment

Another Odor Experiment

Physiology of Smell

Author

Douglas W. Hamilton, Associate Professor and Extension Waste Management Specialist, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service dhamilt@okstate.edu

Doug Hamilton is an associate professor of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Oklahoma State University.  He has three degrees in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Arkansas, Iowa State University, and Penn State University.  His sense of smell remains keen despite the fact he has worked with livestock manure for nearly 34 years.

For More Information

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.

Anaerobic Digester Operator Discussion Group

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Why Is Peer-to-Peer Discussion Important?

The Anaerobic Digester Workforce Development Project is a project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, aimed at developing and delivering high quality educational programs targeted to a range of workforces within the dairy farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) sector of the clean energy field.

A goal of the project was to form a farmer driven discussion group among existing AD owners and operators.  Farmers value and learn from the insights of fellow producers because they trust the experience and knowledge of others who are in situations similar to their own.  This is especially true when adopting new technology. The purpose of this discussion group was to allow farmers an opportunity to learn from each other by sharing their real world experiences integrating and operating an anaerobic digester system into their farm business.    Realizing that frequent, long-distance travel of all involved was a barrier to continued, dedicated involvement, the group opted to pursue a virtually-based discussion group platform.  Farmers from across the state were linked via an online meeting site.  This is an efficient method to allow farmers to interact with each other in a meaningful way without leaving their farm.  The use of high definition video conferencing enhanced the interaction considerably.  There have been many lessons learned from this challenging venture, as well as many successful communication strategies to share.

What Did We Do?

Realizing that frequent, long-distance travel of all involved was a barrier to continued, dedicated involvement, the group opted to pursue a virtually-based discussion group platform.  Farmers from across the state were linked via an online meeting site.  This is an efficient method to allow farmers to interact with each other in a meaningful way without leaving their farm.

What Have We Learned?

The focus of this presentation is to introduce the topic of forming and facilitating farmer based discussion groups with an emphasis on distance learning.  By using online meeting and video conferencing farmers from across geographic areas can meet and engage in meaningful dialogue.  This is especially useful when producers are implementing new technology in which they have no or limited experience.  The opportunity to have an open dialogue with other farmers that have real world experience with the technology is invaluable.  The experience and exchange of knowledge between farmers assists in the implementation and operation of the technology.

Future Plans

The virtual discussion group will continue to meet and develop.  As we gain more experience and farmers become more comfortable with this method of interact we expect for the discussions to increase in value and effectiveness.

Authors

Kathryn Barrett, Sr. Extension Associate, Cornell University, ProDairy Program, Director of Dairy Profit Discussion Group Program. kfb3@cornell.edu

Acknowledgements

The Anaerobic Digester Workforce Development Project is a project funded by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, aimed at developing and delivering high quality educational programs targeted to a range of workforces within the dairy farm-based anaerobic digestion (AD) sector of the clean energy field.

 

The authors are solely responsible for the content of these proceedings. The technical information does not necessarily reflect the official position of the sponsoring agencies or institutions represented by planning committee members, and inclusion and distribution herein does not constitute an endorsement of views expressed by the same. Printed materials included herein are not refereed publications. Citations should appear as follows. EXAMPLE: Authors. 2013. Title of presentation. Waste to Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions. Denver, CO. April 1-5, 2013. URL of this page. Accessed on: today’s date.