First of all, I’d like to thank Bill and Jim for asking Ruby and I to collaborate on this project. I think it is indeed exciting that so much progress has been made in the development of a unique biodegradable nursery pot. In an age when sustainability is not only fashionable but a necessity, we are in a good position to be successful in our quest for funding. That said, Ruby and I would like to share with you our vision for how the Extension professional can be an asset, not only to gaining access to funding, but to integrating the technology into practice.
So what is the point of research – why do we do it? Beyond the fact that many of us enjoy the challenge….
There is a process involved in getting from the idea stage to direct implementation of the concept by stakeholders. The steps are usually the same but they do not always occurs in this order. There is a value to having producer input at the outset. We all think inside our ‘boxes’. Sometimes a producer doesn’t know there is a need (or isn’t aware of options). Sometimes the researcher isn’t aware of the practicalities involved in production
Example: planting trees No research to demonstrate, but it stands to reason, stakeholders who have had involvement early on are more likely to embrace a technology
Key producers = the ‘movers and shakers’ – looked to by others for direction
Generally, a very positive response from producers/retailers in southern Utah, where sustainability
Request for Information From my conversations with USDA folks, the bottom line is outreach cannot be simply an afterthought. It needs to be well thought-out, with a time-line and plan for implementation. It will be an integral part of a successful grant proposal.
In Extension, we like to talk about the “multiplier effect.” Our programs have a larger impact when we can “train the trainer.” In other words, we want to get our information to those who have the power to use that information to influence others (one ‘key producer’ may have an influence on 10 other producers, all of whom will influence their hundreds to thousands of customers)
Talk here about “impacts” and why they’re important to universities and granting agencies?
1. Bioplastics: The Extension
Professional’s Role in Linking
Science to Practice
Dr. Heidi Kratsch
Dr. Ruby Ward
Utah State University Extension
2. What’s the point of research?
Information that influences producers
profitability and risk
3. From problems to answers
Recognize a problem or opportunity
Devise idea(s) to solve the problem
Refine product/process (and more
Communication of concept/results
Implementation – leads to impacts
4. Technology Transfer: the
challenges of integration
Process/product not practical
Unfamiliarity with product/process
Much to lose if product fails
Previous bad experience
Producer input – early and often –
will result in a more successful integration
5. Why Extension?
Expertise in applied research
Expertise in adult education
Established relationships with key
producers (those who influence other
producers and consumers)
6. Input from Utah producers
Need to develop “brand recognition”
Terminology in marketing will be
Would like to see pony-packs and liners
Need to test in the dry, sometimes low
organic matter and/or salty soils of the
7. Input from Utah producers
Will be especially useful for woody
Potential use in simplifying the planting
process for woody plants
Possibility for “custom” pots with
different degradation rates?
Is their a way to include other nutrients
besides N? (P, K, micronutrients?)
8. USDA Specialty Crops
Research Initiative RFA
“…include explicit mechanisms to
communicate results to producers and
9. Explicit Outreach Methods
Workshops (for producers)
Inservices (for county
Articles in trade magazines
Producer involvement in
10. Why include economics?
How does this idea influence a
producer’s “bottom line”?
Weigh the associated costs against the
value of potential benefits
11. Can strengthen the argument for
pursuing the research
Provides a way to assess impacts
Why include economics?
12. How to include economics
Keep track of all costs:
Time for implementation
Cost of materials
Cost of other inputs
13. How to include economics
Assign costs to inputs
Dollar cost of production
Dollar cost of labor hours
Cost of materials
Cost of potential changes in processes or
facilities to integrate the new technology
14. How to include economics
Assign value to new product or process
Process takes less time? Uses fewer
Can sell product at a better price?
Product is more marketable?
Product fills a niche?
Product creates a niche?