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ForestHER workshops

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Modern-day agricultural and forestry practices are more sustainable now than ever. Whether it be planting cover crops or improving cattle efficiencies, farmers and landowners are using these practices to help reduce carbon emissions. However, it is common to wonder where these sustainable practices come from? This is where the Alabama Extension Cooperative System steps in. Led by science, researchers and professionals are on the front lines in developing carbon-capturing practices that create a better Alabama.

The Science Behind Carbon

Becky Barlow, the Alabama Extension interim assistant director for agriculture, forestry and natural resource programs, said Extension implements several programs that help farmers and landowners deal with carbon emissions.

“Some of the programs are in the form of creating new opportunities to use alternative practices with fertilizers, cover crops, no-till planting and more,” Barlow said. “Extension’s role in sustainable practices is to help producers implement the science-based information behind those practices into their operations.”

  • Audrey Gamble, an Extension soil scientist, works on extensive soil research. This research deals with the improvement of soil organic matter and conservation of natural resources. Learn more about the science behind her research in Soil Carbon: Food for the Soil.
  • Jessica Kelton, an Extension agronomic crops regional agent, works to educate producers on the ever-evolving carbon commodity market. Learn more about carbon credits in Carbon Credits: Crop Producers’ Latest Role in Sustainability
  • Adam Maggard, an Extension forestry specialist, educates landowners on sustainable forestry practices. He also works to share information on the environmental benefits related to the adoption of more sustainable wood products. Learn about the science behind these areas in Alabama’s Forests: Clearing the Air.
  • Wilmer Pacheco, an Extension poultry specialist, works on research that improves efficiency within the poultry industry. Learn more about poultry’s commitment to reducing carbon emissions in Alabama Poultry’s Environmental Excellence.
  • Kim Mullenix, an Extension beef systems specialist, works with producers to implement management practices that improve efficiency within their operation. Read more about beef cattle’s role in the carbon cycle in Beef Cattle: Earth’s Carbon Vacuum.

Producers are Partners in Sustainability

Barlow said the involvement of Alabama producers in Extension research is key to the adoption of these practices.

“What we have learned is producers that are using sustainable practices now are much more likely to use more in the future if they are exposed to them,” she said. “Through Extension, we can give producers the tools to help them do that.”

Also, Barlow said establishing partnerships with producers helps further extend the reach of sustainable practices. Producers that use these practices on their own operations are much better influencers to other producers. By partnering with Extension, these producers act as brand ambassadors of science-based research.

“If you have someone that is actually doing the work in the field, they are much more believable than say someone in academia,” Barlow said. “If we in Extension can work closely with farmers that we have a good relationship with, they are then influencers in the future to other farmers to really help spread those sustainable practices widely.”

A Trusted Source

The land grant mission of institutions like Alabama A&M and Auburn universities is built on three pillars: research, teaching and extension. Barlow said it is Extension professionals’ job to take university-generated information and put it into formats that residents can utilize.

“Because of our close working relationships with the public, it is so important that we are a trusted source for that information and that we are giving them good science-based information that is going to help improve their lives,” she said.

Down to Earth: Agriculture Sustains Alabama

Alabama Extension is getting Down to Earth. Why? Because agriculture sustains Alabama. Whether your ag experience is in the grocery store, in the classroom or as your profession—Extension has a resource for you.

We are proud to be partnering with the Alabama Agribusiness Council, the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association, the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries, the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Alabama Poultry and Egg Association, the Alabama Forestry Commission, Sweet Grown Alabama and the Alabama Association of RC&D Councils.

Alabama Extension’s Down to Earth resources are available at www.aces.edu/go/DowntoEarth.


Down to Earth: Agriculture Sustains Alabama