Accomplishments and impacts of the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative, 2013-2015
The National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative (NSSI), a public-private partnership, was launched in February 2013, at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability with a grant from the Walmart Foundation. The NSSI purpose was to move science-based technology from laboratories and research farms onto producers' fields, distribution systems, and other industry operations throughout the strawberry supply chain. The specific project priorities were to 1) increase local strawberry production, supply, and availability within the US, 2) reduce chemical and energy inputs, 3) conserve and preserve water resources, 4) improve soil quality and health, 5) reduce food safety risk of fresh berries, 6) reduce crop losses and spoilage, 7) improve yield and economic return to producers, and 8) develop appropriate metrics for strawberry production sustainability. Twenty projects and six projects were awarded in 2013 and 2014, respectively, to US public land grant institutions in 17 states. Projects were required to be completed within 12 months, to submit quarterly reports, to create at least one project video and to have an active communication plan with traditional and social media. Select accomplishments include, the development of a diagnostic tool and interactive budget for growers to guide decision-making. Growers implemented practices to improve soil quality and health, implemented technology to reduce water use in irrigation as well as use remote sensing technology for targeted irrigation and frost management. New strawberry cultivars were patented and a new cultivar became available for commercial production and organic management practices were developed. As a result of the NSSI, there were 72 on-farm trials, 35 University trials, 49 workshops, 49 field days, 223 presentations, 100 extension and peer-reviewed publications, 70 videos. Full project accomplishment and impacts are found in the two e-books, Moving the Needle and Success in the Field.
Friedrich, H., Rom, C.R., Garcia, M.E., Freeman, L., Rainey, R. and Popp, J. (2017). Accomplishments and impacts of the National Strawberry Sustainability Initiative, 2013-2015. Acta Hortic. 1156, 611-618