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ASAE Conference Proceeding

This is not a peer-reviewed article.

The Oklahoma Poultry Waste Management Education Program

D. W. Hamilton and E. R. Cook

Pp. 440-447 in the Animal, Agricultural and Food Processing Wastes, Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium, 11-14 October 2003 (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA), ed. Robert Burns. ,11 October 2003 . ASAE Pub #701P1203

Abstract

In February 1998, the Oklahoma Registered Poultry Feeding Operations Act required Oklahoma poultry farmers to receive 9 hours of training, covering all aspects of waste management before July 1, 1999 -- and 3 hours of update training every year thereafter.

OSU extension specialists, working with county-based extension educators, created nine modules that broke the initial training down into manageable, one-hour sessions. Over 1,800 individuals have received at least three hours of initial training as of July 1, 2002, of which 1,395 completed all nine hours. Initial training curriculum has evolved over the years from a series of slide sets to Video/DVD presentations with workbooks. In the 2001-2002 training year, 140 hours of annual update training were given in eight counties, resulting in nearly 4,500 person-hours of training.

A survey of poultry producers’ practices in Adair, Cherokee, and Delaware Counties, Oklahoma one year after initial training became mandatory, shows some quantitative results of the training program. The percentage of poultry producers keeping litter application records increased from 34% in 1997, to 88% in 2000. Producers who considered using litter storage facilities increased from 13% to 43% during the same period.

Poultry waste management training has raised the visibility of county extension offices. The program has also won a number of awards: An ASAE educational aids blue ribbon for a CD compiled from the initial training curriculum in 2000, The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service Outstanding Group Award in 2001, and a USDA Secretary's Honor Award in 2002.

KEYWORDS. Certification, Education, Litter, Poultry Manure, Waste Management.

Introduction

In the spring of 1998, the Oklahoma legislature passed the Oklahoma Registered Poultry Feeding Operations Act. As a result of this act, poultry farmers producing more than 10 tons of poultry litter, and people spreading poultry litter, must complete 9 hours of training covering all aspects of poultry litter management. After completing the initial training, operators and applicators must receive three hours of annual update training. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture (ODA) was given the responsibility of developing rules and enforcing the act. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) was obligated to produce training curricula and conduct the training. The Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC) and the Office of the Secretary of Environment (OSE) were responsible for compiling data to determine whether the act has resulted in water quality improvements. Producers were required to develop Animal Waste Management Plans (AWMP) meeting USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) requirements. The act also required funding for the training to be provided by poultry producing companies through contract with Oklahoma State University (OSU). This paper reports on the OCES response to the challenge: development of training curricula and procedures; keeping track of attendance; communication within OCES, with producers, and with other agencies; and measures of program success.

Initial Training

The underlying philosophy guiding development of the Oklahoma poultry waste management education program is to produce material that has direct applicability to poultry production. Our desire is to produce a program that is useful to the producer, not an esoteric, engineering-based explanation of waste management systems.

Program Development

A team to develop the program was assembled by the OCES assistant director for agricultural programs. In keeping with the philosophy that training should originate from the needs of the producer, this team consisted of county based extension educators; district extension directors; area extension specialists for animal science, agronomy, poultry, and water quality; and state specialists for agricultural economics, animal science, nutrient management, waste management, and water quality. The state waste management specialist gave direction to the team. A project coordinator was hired to handle the day-to-day operation of the project.

The team divided initial training into 9 modules:

  1. Regulations

  2. Environmental Background

  3. Nutrient Management 1: Basic Concepts

  4. Nutrient Management 2: Analyses and Equipment Calibration

  5. Nutrient Management 3: The Importance of Phosphorus

  6. Systems Management 1: Understanding the Animal Waste Management Plan

  7. Systems Management 2: Using the Animal Waste Management Plan

  8. Systems Management 3: Conservation Practices

  9. Litter Marketing

Each module was developed by a subgroup consisting of county educators, area and state specialists, and non-extension personnel (such as NRCS personnel for modules dealing with the AWMP). Presentation materials were developed by each subgroup, presented by a county extension educator, and critiqued by the entire development team. The waste management specialist and project coordinator gathered input from critiques and assembled final versions of the training materials. County extension educators performed actual training of producers. In the following years, new educators were trained to use poultry training materials through in-service training.

Curricula Evolution

The first curricula used in initial training were bulky notebooks consisting of slide sets, scripts, handout materials (primarily existing extension factsheets), and reference materials. Producers received handouts at training sessions. Pre and post-tests were given before and after each three-hour session. The producers also received a temporary certificate indicating completion of each module given during the session. Once producers completed all nine hours of training, they were mailed a permanent certificate. A survey was also mailed with the certificate. Producers who completed the survey were given a three ring binder containing all handouts used in the training, as well as, a set of record sheets that helped producers fulfill ODA record keeping requirements.

After the first year of the program, the modules were refined and slide sets were transferred to CD format. Training was still given in three-hour sessions. Producers received three-ring binders containing record sheets and handouts at the initial training session.

Beginning in 2000, the curricula underwent a complete revision. A new, video-based curriculum was completed in July 2002. OSU Agricultural Communication Services produced twenty-minute video segments were for each module. These videos are not meant to replace classroom teaching, but to standardize the curriculum and allow county educators more flexibility in presentation. The videos are available in VHS and DVD format. A workbook and handout set are provided with each module. Pre and post testing is conducted before and after presentation of the modules. Producers are presented with record sets and ring binders at the initial training session. Training sessions have also become more standardized. Now, all initial training is given in three, three-hour sessions consisting of the modules shown in table 1.

Table 1. Standardized Initial Training Sessions.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Regulations

Environmental Background

Understanding the AWMP

Poultry Litter Nutrient Management

Soil and Litter Sampling/Calibration

Phosphorus in Poultry Production

Conservation Practices

Fine Tuning the AWMP

Poultry Litter Marketing

Initial training curricula continue to evolve. The next generation will be an interactive DVD containing presentations, downloadable handout and reference materials, and self-conducted tests. We also have plans to produce special curricula and sessions geared towards the needs of commercial poultry litter applicators.

Initial Training Delivery

Table 2 lists the number of people who have completed the initial 9 hours of training, sorted by training year, and county or state of origin. This table shows that the first year of training required the greatest effort to complete. The number of producers completing initial training after July 1999 represents a steady turnover in poultry operators (5-15% per year), as well as, incidences of company expansion (LeFlore County 2001-2002). Out-of-state trainees (Arkansas, Missouri, Texas) tend to be poultry company service representatives who are taking the course along with their contract growers.

Annual Update Training

A great degree of flexibility is given in assigning hours of annual update training. Whereas initial training must satisfy a specified number of hours covering certain topics, producers are free to choose three hours of annual update training on any subject that has been approved for credit. Extension educators and specialists may create special programs for update credit. Meetings not specific to poultry training may also receive approval for credit hours. Producers may also receive credit for attending non-extension functions, workshops, conferences, etc. with prior approval. The important criteria to be met are that the hours requested cover topics specified in the law – environmental aspects of poultry production – and that actual time spent on environmental management equals the hours requested. A review process has been created to approve update education hours. County extension educators send in a description of hours for approval, the extension waste management specialist working with the project coordinator,

Table 2. Synopsis of Initial Training, 1998 through 2001 Training Years.

County or State in which person is registered

People who have completed initial training

People who have completed initial training

during a given training year

July 1998

June 1999

July 1999

June 2000

July 2000

June 2001

July 2001

June 2002

Adair

114

102

6

2

4

Cherokee

40

35

3

-

2

Craig

15

11

2

-

2

Delaware

229

202

11

5

11

Haskell

86

65

12

6

3

Latimer

12

6

-

1

5

LeFlore

371

277

27

21

46

Mayes

48

30

2

2

14

McCurtain

322

298

8

2

14

McIntosh

4

4

-

-

Muskogee

10

8

-

-

2

Ottawa

37

21

6

3

7

Pittsburg

2

1

1

-

Rogers

5

2

-

1

2

Sequoyah

33

18

3

-

12

OK TOTAL

1,328

1,080

81

43

121

Arkansas

55

46

-

-

9

Missouri

11

11

-

-

-

Texas

1

-

-

1

-

GRAND TOTAL

1,395

1,137

81

44

133

ODA, and other state specialists return the approval request with an endorsement, rejection, or amendment to the hours. This approval request is also the first step in communicating hours available for training to producers. Communication of educational needs from producers to educators and specialists is facilitated by use of county and industry advisory committees hosted by county educators and area specialists, and an annual planning meeting attended by the entire project team.

Update Training Delivery

Topics covered in update training run the gamut from additional material augmenting the initial training (Regulations update; Nutrient Management: Soil Fertility Clinic, Fall Fertilization, Fall Pasture Management, Weed and Brush Control; Environmental Background: Pond and Riparian Area Management; Records to keep with the AWMP, Marketing updates), topics not adequately covered in the initial training (Mortality Management, Composter Clinics), and topics dealing with poultry farm management (Biosecurity, Insect and Rodent Control, Ventilation). The most frequently repeated programs were given to convince producers to disperse application throughout the year by emphasizing fall pasture management. The most popular programs combined purely environmental topics such as nutrient management and record keeping with more production oriented topics such as ventilation.

Table 3 demonstrates the level of effort put forth by county extension offices to conduct annual update training during the two most recent training years. Every person occupying space in the classroom for every meeting is added up to give the total attendance figure. If the same producer attended two meetings in a county, this would be recorded as a total audience of two. Multiplying the attendance of a meeting by the credit hours offered in a meeting gives the person-hours of training given in that particular meeting. Summing the person-hours of all meetings given by county for a year gives the person-hour values shown in Table 3. No matter which standard is used, Table 3 shows that the time and effort required to deliver annual update training has increased as new producers enter the program. Dividing total person-hours for the state by hours offered shows that average class size was reduced from 47.1 people in 2000 (3,803/80) to 32.1 people in 2001(4,494/140). This reflects OCES effort to give producers a greater choice of meetings and to improve the classroom environment. Producers do have a choice of which meetings to attend. They are not required to acquire hours in the county in which they were registered. As shown in Table 3, the relative amount of training received by producers in Delaware County versus Adair County (which are adjacent to each other) reversed between 2000 and 2001, even though both counties increased the hours offered. Use of such statistics encourages a friendly sense of rivalry between counties, and helps to motivate educators to continuously improve timeliness and delivery of educational content.

Communication, Evaluation and Data Management

Evaluation and Reporting

Delivery of initial training is evaluated primarily through pre and post-tests. A survey of perceptions is also given to all people who have completed the entire initial training course. Annual update training is evaluated primarily by use of county advisory boards; however, individual class evaluations are also used. In 1997 and 1999, surveys were conducted of poultry producers in Adair, Delaware and Cherokee Counties under a different project and funding source. Data from this survey were used to gauge effectiveness during the early phases of the project. OCES is required to submit an annual report to the Oklahoma Secretary of Environment stating training received by producers, sorted by conservation district.

Database

Although not specifically required to do so by the Register Poultry Feeding Operations Act, OCES maintains a training database consisting of all people who have attended either initial or

Table 3. Synopsis of Annual Update Training, 2000 and 2001 Training Years

County in which training was given

July 2000 to June 2001

July 2001 to June 2002

Hours Offered

Total Attendance

Person-hours

Hours Offered

Total Attendance

Person-hours

Adair

16.0

158

388.0

31.0

120

328.0

Cherokee

6.0

81

130.0

6.0

13

39.0

Craig

-

-

-

-

-

-

Delaware

11.0

269

718.5

19.5

316

817.5

Haskell

10.5

266

439.0

20.5

210

352.5

Latimer

-

-

-

2.5

15

37.5

LeFlore

17.5

497

950.0

28.0

902

1,510.5

Mayes

2.0

15

30.0

5.5

65

171.5

McCurtain

7.0

587

983.0

15.0

468

1,058.0

McIntosh

-

-

-

-

-

-

Muskogee

-

-

-

-

-

-

Ottawa

7.0

38

99.0

9.0

46

138.0

Pittsburg

-

-

-

-

-

-

Rogers

-

-

-

-

-

-

Sequoyah

3.0

22

66.0

3.0

14

42.0

Oklahoma

80.0

1,933

3,803.5

140.0

2,169

4,494.5

annual update training. The database was initially created to facilitate compiling data for the annual report to the Secretary of the Environment. Microsoft Access Tm operating on a dedicated PC, was originally used to create the database; however, at the start of the 2002 training year, the database was transferred to Microsoft SQL-2000 Tm for greater speed and use on the World Wide Web. Either the project coordinator or county extension offices can enter data under password control; however, the project coordinator must validate the data before its entry into the database. Using a password, the project coordinator, county extension offices, and ODA may view and query the database. Data pertaining to 1,812 people have been entered into the database as of July 2002.

Website and Newsletter

A website serves as the portal to Internet based database, and is used by County Extension Offices to submit approval requests. The website is also a means of communication to producers and Oklahoma Citizens. It contains a calendar of events, gives updates for rule changes, and contains links to other sources of information on poultry production and waste management. In addition to electronic communication, OCES mails a bimonthly newsletter to all names contained by the database, as well as, new registrants relayed to OCES by ODA.

Measures of Success

Producer Response and Change in Behavior

Based on responses to questionnaires, 80% of all producers who completed the initial nine hours of training were “completely satisfied” with the level of instruction they received, and 90% state that they “learned something new” during the training. Change in producer behavior is more telling, however. A survey of poultry producers’ practices in Adair, Cherokee, and Delaware Counties, Oklahoma shows the number of producers keeping litter application records increased from 34% in 1997, to 88% in 2000. The number of poultry producers who considered using litter storage facilities increased from 13% to 43% during the same time period. These changes in behavior are due in part to poultry waste management training.

Awards

The Oklahoma Poultry Waste Management Team has won a number of regional and national awards. The CD compiled from the revised training curriculum won a blue ribbon in the ASAE educational aids competition in 2000. In 2001, The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service bestowed the Outstanding Group Award on the team. The United States Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Venneman, awarded the team a Secretary's Honor Award in 2002.

Conclusion

As of July 2002, 1,812 people of all backgrounds have attended at least three hours of poultry waste management initial training given by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. Of these, 1,395 have been certified as having completed all nine hours of the course. In the 2001-2002 training year, 140 hours of annual update training have been offered statewide, resulting in 4,494.5 person-hours of continuing education. Participant satisfaction with the program is high, with 80% of those completing initial training being are “completely satisfied” with the level of instruction they received. Independent surveys show positive changes in producer behavior as determined by increases in records kept and inquiries into use of storage. Combined with other programs such as those geared towards increasing off-farm marketing of poultry litter, the Oklahoma Poultry Waste Management Education Project has served to raise awareness and give producers the ability to manage wastes for the betterment of the environment and their businesses.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge the dedicated effort of the entire extension team who made the Oklahoma Poultry Waste Management Education Project a success: Dennis Bailey, Roy Ball, Kent Barnes, Joe Berry, Claude Bess, Jim Britton, Joe Bullard, Randy Burris, Kathy Conry, Jackie Dahlgren, Tina Eaton, Ted Evicks, Stan Fimple, Mitch Fram, Ronny George, Kevin Gragg, Marty Green, Sherry Grussing, Michel Haigh, Jason Hollenback, Tony Johnson, Tami Krehbiel, Ross Love, Prashant Mokkarala, Monty Montague, Derrell Peel, Rick Rexwinkle, Mike Rose, Wayne Shearhart, Mike Smolen, Bill Stacy, Don Stotts, Paul Thomas, Craig Trible, Carl Wallace, Roger Williams, Bob Woods, Craig Woods, Tony Yates, Blaine Yirsa, and Hailin Zhang.

REFERENCES