See more from this Session: Cover Crop and Weed Management Considerations in Organic Management Systems
Tuesday, November 2, 2010: 1:45 PM
Hyatt Regency Long Beach, Shoreline B, First Floor
This study elicited information about adoption of alternative agricultural techniques by investigating farmer networking patterns, diffusion of agricultural innovations, and sources of information used by organic farmers in North Carolina. The management practice of cover cropping is used in organic agriculture for a multitude of socioeconomic, environmental, and practical purposes with primary farmer goals of soil fertility improvement, organic matter development, and erosion prevention. As organic agriculture is a relatively new field, farmers utilize a number of non-traditional resources to learn about production practices including grower workshops, agricultural websites, farmer networking groups, and organic production consultants. The objective of this study is to identify the link between sources of information about cover cropping and how that knowledge is translated into practice on-farm. We hypothesize that approaches to cover cropping will vary, influenced by factors such as access to educational resources, length of time in farming, scale of operation, and type of cropping system. We conducted 21 in-depth interviews across North Carolina with farmers who utilize cover crops in their farming systems. Collected data included farming backgrounds, socioeconomic information, general material investments, purpose for cover crops, planting and kill techniques, soil quality, crop rotations, and methods of learning about cover cropping. The compiled data was coded via Atlas TI software and analyzed for content. Preliminary data suggests that farmer networking groups were especially critical with novice farmers and those transitioning to organic production. This emergent data will be useful for agricultural extension services, farmers in transition, and cover crop researchers in terms of identifying the most productive means to disseminate information about organic management practices.