Non Technical Summary
The long-term goalof this research is to support the regional adoption of production strategies and precision technologies that improve economic and environmental sustainability of vegetable production in the southeast. The adoption of precision technology over the past couple of decades represents a profound technological transition. However, many of these technologies have seen the highest adoption rates among large row-crop operations, and information regarding their use in specialty crop production (let alone organic vegetable production) is very limited. However, some of these technologies (i.e. sensors for site specific decision making, precision pest management, and automation) could positively impact organic production and farm profitability by increasing yield and/or reducing cost, which would help to overcome the costs of adopting such technologies. Combined with a whole-farm approach to crop mix planning and profitability analysis, technology adoption and investment can be evaluated. Theshort-term goalof this planning proposal is to form a team and collect preliminary data necessary to develop a well-informed full OREI proposal focusing on organic vegetable(Cucurbits and brassicas) and sweet corn production in the Southeast. To achieve this goal, one of our primary focuses will be to fill a knowledge gap with survey data to guide the development of the full OREI proposal. This survey data will be used to identify the optimal crop mix that maximizes profit, and combined with industry and producer participation, will be utilized to identify the most promising production strategies and precision technologies that have the potential to improve and expand organic production in both near (<5 years) and long term (5+ years). This project will explore these needs and build a team of researchers, producers, and industry for a full OREI submission.
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories
Goals / Objectives
The short-term goal of this planning proposal is to form a team and collect preliminary data necessary to develop a well-informed full OREI proposal focusing on organic vegetables (Cucurbits and brassicas) and sweet corn production in the Southeast. The long-term goal of this research is to support the regional adoption of production strategies and precision technologies that improve economic and environmental sustainability of vegetable production in the southeast.In order to facilitate the development of a full OREI proposal, this planning grant aims to:Objective 1: Identify current production practices, planning strategies, and production systems:Objective 1a: Identify the most common crop mix, yearly rotations, and production practices using a pilot survey that will guide the development of the full integrated proposal which will utilize a systems approach to improve profitability.Objective 1b: Identify producer's perceived and actual barriers to transition from conventional to organic production or to expand certified-organic acreage. This will be used to guide the education activities covered by the full integrated proposal.Objective 2: Evaluate the producer and industry perspectives on technologies with the potential to improve and expand organic production.Objective 2a: Identify the current state of agricultural technology use along with technologies producers are considering adopting near term (in both conventional and organic production).Objective 2b: Engage in discussions with industry to identify promising emerging technologies (e.g., robotic weeding, digital scouting, and remote sensing) that have the potential to enhance and expand organic production, as well as identify barriers to adoption.Objective 3: Build integrated team for the full grant submission, and disseminate survey results:Objective 3a: Identify organic producers in the Southeastern region willing to conduct on-farm trials.Objective 3b: Identify other researchers in the region with relevant expertise to collaborate on the full proposal.Objective 3c: Organize a focus group and proposal planning meeting with all researchers involved and those interested in working on the full OREI proposal application. Objective 3d: Develop extension material summarizing survey results (Objective 1a and Objective 2)
To achieve Objective 1 & 2, the team will design and distribute surveys to produce growers in the Southeast via email, at extension meetings and through Qualtrics. The survey will be analyzed to identify trends, barriers to transition to organic or expand existing organic acreage, and opportunities for future research and intervention. Producers will be asked to identify current cropping rotations, crop mix and diversification, marketing channels, and other production system related questions.To accomplish Objective 2, the survey described above will include questions to specifically identify agricultural technologies currently in use, barriers to adoption of new agricultural technologies as well as producers' perceptions of promising technologies. These questions will primarily focus on digital (or precision technologies), but information about other technologies used in production (ex. biodegradable plastic mulch) will also be evaluated in a more limited manner. The technologies evaluated will be classified broadly into the non-exclusive groups below, and additional information about the facet of production they are used in will also be collected as appropriate (pest management, crop scouting, nutrient management, farm management, etc.). Direct sensing technologies (ex. IoT sensing, soil moisture, weather stations)Remote sensing technologies (ex. unmanned arial systems, satellite imagery)Automation (ex. guidance, robotic weeding)Decision support (ex. soil mapping, irrigation scheduling, artificial intelligence)Information support (web-based applications, record keeping, farm management)To support recruitment and stakeholder engagement (Objective 3), astakeholder focus group will be held early in the project. We anticipate having all PDs and at least 10 producers at this meeting to discuss survey results, and the development of a full OREI proposal. The team will also conductnetworking at the Southeast regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference to recruit additional regional researchers for the full proposal, andaplanning meeting for the development of a full OREI proposal will be heldin Spring 2024.