Research verification programs are a public demonstration of the implementation of research-based Extension recommendations in a commercial-scale farming environment. Research Verification is also a methodology used to verify and to determine if the total set of research-based Extension recommendations applied on a commercial farm produces yields, feed conversions ratios, survival, and costs consistent with results from research trials. The essence of the Research Verification Program is to provide intensive monitoring of commercial ponds in which recommended research-based management protocols are being implemented. This results in a comprehensive database of water quality, input use, stocking, and harvesting data from commercial ponds that greatly exceeds the data available from normal farm production records.
The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station have been conducting research verification trials for major row crops since the 1980's. In 1993, a pilot catfish verification program was initiated by the Arkansas Cooperative Extension System and Program to provide production support to the catfish industry. The program has been an excellent demonstration of the recommended management practices for the production of food-sized channel catfish and provided a necessary intermediate step between small-pond research and the development of Extension's recommendations to farmers. It has also served as an excellent training tool for county Extension agents to learn more about catfish production. A second catfish verification program was initiated in 1998 with a refined management protocol, and the program was expanded to include both foodfish and fingerling production. At the conclusion of the three-year verification process, production from seven ponds (three food-fish ponds and four fingerling ponds) had been successfully verified.
In 2003, two new interdisciplinary verification committee consisting of researchers and extension specialists was formed to develop a revised set of recommended management practices for commercial catfish and golden shiner culture based on current research, practical experience, and previous yield verification trials. These management practices formed the basis of the specific management protocol for the third Arkansas Catfish Research Verification Program (CRVP) and the first Baitfish Research Verification Program (BRVP). Ponds were stocked in April-May 2004 and ponds will be monitored throughout the 2004 and 2005 growing season. Besides a new BRVP was initiated in the spring of 2005 with new cooperators.
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