Knee deep in grass: Methodology
A Sustainable Dairy Farming Research Team was formed in 1993 by several dairy graziers, researchers from two University of Minnesota branch experiment stations and five departments of the University of Minnesota, as well as the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Soil Conservation Laboratory. The team's objective was to provide information for dairy farmers using or planning to use management intensive grazing (MIG). The information would help farmers increase profitability, minimize negative environmental impacts and improve their quality of life.
The research team was charged with evaluating strategies for recovering existing pastures and establishing new pastures, as well as conducting an extensive survey of dairy farmers who are adopting MIG systems. This report discusses the survey results.
The survey was developed by team members Dennis Johnson (Dairy Scientist, Project Coordinator), Helene Murray (MISA Coordinator), Earl Fuller (Farm Economist, Department of Applied Economics), David Minar (cooperating grazier) and Brian Loeffler (Graduate Student, Department of Applied Economics). A complete listing of team members is included in this publication. Dairy farm operations using MIG were identified for the survey through grazing clubs, University of Minnesota Extension educators and veterinarians. A total of 29 cooperating farms were identified for the study. The 29 farms surveyed represent a purposive sample of graziers. The study was not designed to provide statistical information about graziers in Minnesota.
The objectives for the survey component of the project were to:
- obtain baseline information so that farm evolution could be traced
- develop predictors of successful conversions and
- identify decision case scenarios that will be developed to teach principles of effective farm conversion to MIG
Each survey was personally conducted at the cooperating farm by Loeffler, Johnson and Fuller. Twenty-two of the surveys were completed from August 4 to September 24, 1994. Seven were completed from December 20 to December 30, 1994. Farm business volume data was collected for the 1993 calendar year.