Dick Cates and Erin Silva to lead needs assessments for grazing and organic ag systems

Wisconsin is known as a leader in animal grazing and organic agriculture systems, both in terms of production and research. The value of these systems is widely recognized. Much less apparent is the amount of research and outreach focused on these systems, and the vast array of stakeholder organizations and networks created to support them.  Efforts in grazing and organic research, outreach and implementation are conducted by the state’s two- and four-year campuses, Extension personnel, private consultants, non-government organizations and several community stakeholder networks.

With this in mind, Dean Jahn has CALS staffers Dick Cates and Erin Silva to lead needs assessments in these areas. Silva, a research scientist in the Department of Horticulture, will lead the assessment of needs related to organic production. A similar effort related to grazing will be headed up by Cates, a senior lecturer in soil science and director of the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy & Livestock Farmers (a joint effort of the Center for Intergrated Agricultural Systems and the Farm and Industry Short Course).

These efforts will take place over the next year. They will include a comprehensive inventory of current research and outreach efforts across the state, an assessment of future needs of these production communities, and improved communications among stakeholders.  They will also help learn where producers are currently getting their information, in order to gauge where CALS can be most effective in the long term.  The overall goal of this work is to optimize the effectiveness of our work and determine the most appropriate role for CALS in grazing and organic production.  A report of these efforts will be forthcoming in late 2011.