CONTRACT/GRANT/AGREEMENT NO: 2009-51160-19789 PROPOSAL NO: 2009-01029
START: 01 SEP 2009 TERM: 31 AUG 2013 FY: 2009 GRANT YR: 2009
GRANT AMT: $149,968

INVESTIGATOR: Wattiaux, M.; Barham, B.; Bell, M.; Cabrera, V.; Harrison Pritikin, J.


NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Delivering high quality research and educational programs to train future scientists to deal with the complexity (multi-functionality and sustainability) of diverse agricultural systems at a global scale depends on cultivating their capacity to function successfully in a strong network of multi-disciplinary collaboration with counterparts in other countries. In this proposal, scientists from agricultural and applied economics, dairy science, rural sociology and other backgrounds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will partner with Mexican colleagues at the Universidad de Guadalajara, centro universitario de Los Altos and the Universidad Autnoma del Estado de Mexico. Together, we will: (a) Build capacity for effective rapid appraisals of the sustainability of contrasting dairy production systems at the farm, watershed, and community level; (b) Provide venues for field-based training of students, producers, and extension personnel in rapid appraisals; and, (c) Create a series of instructional case studies for use in at least seven university courses and off-campus educational programs. The proposed activities include a fall seminar with video conferencing of Mexican and US speakers, a winter workshop of the investigators (faculty and students) and other agricultural professionals that will be involved in the summer on-farm rapid appraisals projects on Mexican and Wisconsin farms. Case studies, photos and videos will be posted electronically and used in extension programs. Each project activity will be evaluated separately and a summative evaluation will be conducted annually. Lessons will be shared with campus, dairy producers, rural communities, and professional societies, as well as disseminated in technical and referred publications.

OBJECTIVES: The central goal of this project is to build capacity for multi-disciplinary appraisal of dairy production systems sustainability. The immediate objectives are as follows:

APPROACH: The activities described below will be repeated annually (yrs 1-3), with yr 4 reserved to focus on lessons learned and refining the appraisal across all types of dairy farms. The annual emphases will be as follows (tentative):

Activity 1: Fall semester seminar: "Evaluation of Agro-Ecosystems: Current Methods and Case Studies": This seminar will include video conferences with speakers from both countries with expertise in sustainable development. The seminars will focus on tools to assess sustainability and analyses of selected Mexican dairy systems and selected Wisconsin dairy systems.

Activity 2: Inter-Session Annual Workshop and Site Visits: During the winter inter-session, an annual workshop will be organized in Tepatitlan Jalisco (yr 1 and yr 3), Toluca, Estado de Mexico (yr 2), and Madison WI (yr 4). In year 1 to 3, participants will include a team of three faculty and at least two students (with financial assistance from separate funds).

Activity 3: Summer Projects: Following the workshops, students and Co-PIs will fine-tune the research protocol throughout the spring semester. Students who will have attended the fall seminar and the winter workshop will be invited to apply for summer research support. In years 1 to 3, three students will be selected to carry out the on-farm data collection protocol in Mexico and in Wisconsin.

Activity 4: Development and Disseminations of Case Studies: Upon return to the campus, grant recipients will be responsible for developing case studies (at least two per year). Case studies will be developed in collaboration with instructional faculty (from both countries) with an interest in including them in their courses beginning with (but not limited to) courses currently taught by the Co-PIs and closely allied colleagues and the teaching portfolio of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies.

Activity 5: Publication of International and Multi-disciplinary Research on Dairy Systems: The data collected during the summer research projects will be analyzed and summarized also in the form of research reports, referred publications, technical and educational publications. Dissemination of the latter will be possible through the UW-Madison Program for Agricultural Technology Studies and The Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research and Development.

Activity 6: Project Evaluation: Formative evaluation is designed to provide feedback on program components as they unfold whereas summative evaluation is designed to provide a measure of program achievements (in relation to stated goals). Program components to be evaluated include the fall seminar, the winter workshop, the summer research project and the production and dissemination of the case studies.

PROGRESS: 2010/09 TO 2010/12
This report describes the activities completed in the period of January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010. Major activities included three workshops with colleagues in Mexico and elaboration of the project website:

January 11-13, 2010 was the first annual workshop that took place in Toluca, State of Mexico at our partner institution ICAR at the National Autonomous University of the State of Mexico. Four team members from the UW-Madison traveled from Madison to Toluca and three team members from the University of Guadalajara traveled to Toluca to participate in the workshop. An additional 12 faculty and students from Toluca and other centers of the National Autonomous University of the State of Mexico participated. The major objectives and accomplishments were: 1) Evaluation of the fall 2009 seminar; and 2) Identification of research topics and sites for summer 2010 fieldwork. In addition to accomplishing these pre-determined objectives, the project team got acquainted and began to consolidate to focus on the activities of the project.

A second workshop was hosted by colleagues at the University of Guadalajara, Centro Universitario de Los Altos (CUAltos) on March 22-24, 2010 in Tepatitlan, Jalisco. This workshop introduced several new collaborators to the team and focused on presentations of research projects of colleagues from four different universities in Mexico, Costa Rica and Quebec. Two team members from the UW-Madison attended the workshop. A major accomplishment was to integrate a small team of scientists from Quebec who are conducting similar research.

On June 1-3, 2010, the Wisconsin team hosted 15 Mexicans and two Canadian colleagues in Madison. Graduate students from Mexico and Wisconsin attended also the workshop. The workshop was planned around face-to-face interaction on survey design and survey field testing. In addition, most of our Mexican colleagues had not seen dairy systems in Wisconsin. So a workshop was planned in Madison for June in order to accomplish these and other goals. Accomplishments included: 1) Review and testing of a survey instrument on five Wisconsin dairy farms; 2) Plan for data collection in four sites in Mexico, Wisconsin and Quebec; 3) Dates and program for the videoconference seminar series for the fall semester; and 4) Plans and commitments from team members for development of research and teaching case studies.

Activities related to students conducting fieldwork advanced also. Mario Garcia Sierra, a UW-Madison student has his first field experience conducting research in Mexico. He traveled from Madison to Mexico and 4 weeks conducting research in the State of Jalisco in collaboration with scientists from CUAltos.

In the fall, the second edition of Dairy Agro-Ecosystem Evaluation, the multi-lingual seminar (Spanish, English and French) took place including scientists from the three Mexican sites and two Canadian partner institutions (Universite Laval and Agri-Food Canada). Seven UW-Madison students and students from Mexico attended the six 2-hr seminar that was conducted in Spanish, English and French (as needed).

PRODUCTS: Websites were created for the overall project, for each of the three workshops held in 2010 and for the fall semester seminar. Presentations of speakers are posted for the March and June workshops. Evaluation of these activities were conducted and posted on the respective websites. The overall project website is available at: Sustainable-dairy

The web page for the January 2010 workshop is at: Taller de Enero

A full report of the March workshop can be viewed at: Taller de Marzo

The web page for the June workshop that was held in Madison Wisconsin, is at June Workshop (English) and Taller de Junio (Spanish).

Please see home page of the seminar website at: 5st and the 2010 Seminar Description (Syllabus) for detailed information on video conference series.

OUTCOMES: Michel Wattiaux was invited by Luis Brunett of the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico-Amecameca to make a presentation to a group of Mexican colleagues by videoconference. Presentation of Dr. Wattiaux was viewed by a network of Mexican scientists in 12 different universities. The presentation is available at: Seminario internacional page Other project outcomes can be found in the feedback provided by participants in the Wisconsin workshop in June. Below is a selection of participants' comments when they were asked what aspects of the workshop made it a good learning experience. There was a consensus among several participants that the diverse and multidisciplinary backgrounds of participants was an advantage: --The exchange of ideas, comments and opinions from people of different backgrounds and academic disciplines. [made it a good learning experience]. [translated from Spanish]. --The interaction with people of different academic backgrounds allows us to better see the problems to resolve, in addition, it offers a spectrum of new ideas that we can capitalize on in other, new projects, local and global. [translated from Spanish] Various comments about methodologies and testing the surveys on Wisconsin farms: --To test the survey was excellent and I liked very much the chance to see an organic dairy system. [translated from Spanish]. --My knowledge was enriched with the different methodologies [discussed/presented] that are used to collect and process information, useful for improving our work and different lines of research. [translated from Spanish]. --The ability to visualize other types of exploitation from other cultures [made it a good learning experience]. Comments regarding case studies: --For me, the case studies can be a very powerful tool to strengthen learning and to provide the necessary tools to resolve real problems in systems of production. [translated from Spanish]. --The exercise with the case studies [made it a good learning experience]. I think that if we can do a good job with the case studies, we will improve our teaching. [translated from Spanish]. Other comments: --Many thanks for the magnificent coordination of logistics. You did a great job. Also thanks for believing in the work that we, as students, can conduct. [translated from Spanish]. --The academic link among UW-Madison and CUALTOS and UAEM, now enriched with our Canadian colleagues is getting stronger and stronger. All comments can be viewed at the June Workshop Evaluation page.

DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES: The website listed above are the main means of dissemination of project achievements, products, outcomes and impacts. Notably the fall seminar series was featured in Grow, the CALS magazine for UW-Madison Alumini. The story was then picked-up by the University of Wisconsin Madison Communication and was featured on the UW-Madison home page for about one week in the late fall 2010.


IMPACT: 2010/09 TO 2010/12
The major (long term) impacts on this project that have been advanced this year include: a) Increased human capacity for appraisal of dairy systems; b) Increased ability to function in cross-disciplinary and international settings; c) Improve communication skills of UW-Madison students A subtle, unintended impact of the project was raised by a Mexican colleague who reported in March that he felt his entire team had had a shift in their thinking and research plans as a result of being involved with the project. He reported that, as dairy scientists, they had never looked at environmental issues in dairy systems in the past. But as a result of contact with the Wisconsin team and the project, they have discovered that they now think and talk about environmental concerns.

PUBLICATIONS (not previously reported): 2010/09 TO 2010/12
No publications reported this period


Name: Wattiaux, M.
Phone: 608-263-3493