Ag Professionals Receiving Training in Soil Management Practices
Soil resource specialists with the University of Puerto Rico and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are training extension agents across the island on soil nutrient management practices to help fill educational and resource gaps between ag professionals and farmers.
The training, funded through a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program Grant, is taking place across five regions in Puerto Rico: Arecibo, Gurabo, Mayaguez, Ponce and San Juan. The regions support 67 extension agents who serve over 1,100 farmers.
Workshops, which will take place over the course of a year, cover such topics as soil sampling, soil analysis interpretation, nutrient recommendation, soil nutrient management, and soil quality/health.
Resource tools are also being developed, including instructional videos on soil management pertinent to tropical agriculture, a website on soil management practices, and an online fertilizer calculator. Extension agents will also have access to soil sampling and field analysis instruments.
SARE State Coordinators are vital for expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS, and other agricultural professionals, who will then help producers transition to a more sustainable agriculture.
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SARE IN PUERTO RICO
The Puerto Rico Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) is a professional development program sponsored by the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez College of Agricultural Sciences. The university works to deliver a program that enhances the environmental, social, and economic sustainability of Puerto Rico through research and education. Puerto Rico SARE partners with researchers, extension faculty, producers, and community organizations to research and implement the best science-based practices available in all aspects of Puerto Rico's agricultural system. In addition to research, SARE is dedicated to providing education in sustainable agriculture through various trainings offered each year.
PUERTO RICO Impacts
Urban farming is seen as an opportunity not only as an income for underserved populations, but also as an opportunity for urban revitalization, social interactions and community development. But urban farmers need support from institutions, such as municipalities.
Professional Development Program
Within each state, agricultural educators work directly with farmers and ranchers to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. Through a program called the Professional Development Program (PDP), SARE state ag coordinators provide support for sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies.
SARE and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) offer the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program, which enhances Cooperative Extension personnel’s understanding of sustainable agriculture and provides broad-based, national exposure to successful and unique sustainable agriculture programs.