Mapping the Pathways for Effective Dissemination and Education between Manure Nutrient Management Agriculture Professionals

Mapping the Pathways for Effective Dissemination and Education between Manure Nutrient Management Agriculture Professionals

Mapping the Pathways Final Report


Manure nutrient management education takes a concerted team approach by Extension, government and industry to transform research findings to implemented practices. This concerted effort is faced with many challenges, including organizational differences in language and communication methods at our disposal, and the sometimes controversial nature of the topic.


The goal of this Professional Development Project is to establish documented and effective pathways for information dissemination and use among manure nutrient management professionals. The short-term outcomes are to develop an understanding of the needs of various agricultural professional organizations and individuals, the barriers for successful information transfer, and the terminology used by the different audiences.

Intended Impacts

This project is designed for the professional development of individuals from multiple organizations to cooperatively discover and define the pathways for more effective and successful information sharing among agricultural professional groups. Upon conclusion of the project, the information pathways and communication tools developed by this project will be used by agriculture professionals in development of more successful and end-user focused outreach and education programs.


An overview of the project was presented at the 2015 Waste to Worth Conference in Seattle, WA in April 2015. This venue was also used to recruit more participation in the survey (described later in this section), and we saw the survey response rate over double in the following week.

Team meetings (via web conference) were held on April 15 and May 13.

A project overview was also presented by PI Cortus to the Multistate Projects S-1032 and NCCC-09. The Pathways Project and its intended outputs provide data for the sustainability analysis that is part of S-1032’s goals, and inform information sharing practices, which aligns with NCCC-09’s goals. There is the potential to use the S-1032 group for brainstorming capacity as the focus of S-1032 is on linkages.

The project team disseminated a national survey to collect data on the functions, information sources, dissemination methods and barriers for information exchange by research institutions, private industry, government, education, regulatory, technical service providers, and producers. There were 531 completed surveys, with 831 partially completed. The survey data was combined with data collected during a South Dakota Pilot Test, which included 139 partially completed and 80 completed surveys. With the SD and national survey combined, there were 428 survey participants who identified being from the North Central Region states.

Preliminary analysis of the information sources has shown the following trends:

  • Relationships exist between information sources and organizational type, level of knowledge, perceived importance, and years of experience
  • Relationships for information sources differ between the North Central Region and the Non-North Central Region
  • Information sources can be grouped into three broad categories of formal education (classroom, professional development, field, farm and web setting), technical education (consultation, research paper, technical document, and science-based sites) and news/media (news, popular press articles, social media, and smart phone/tablet apps), and within these categories, other relationships tracked similarly.

Next Steps

  • Similar analyses will be performed for information sharing/products and collaborations, using the North Central Region and National Datasets.
  • Monthly email updates will be shared between the data analysis team and the project team.
  • The survey data will be used to delineate pathways for information transfer.

Erin Cortus

Extension Specialist, South Dakota State University