Mainstreaming Cover Crops: Training Opportunities for Crop Consultants and Extension Educators

Final report for ENC15-149

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $74,994.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2017
Grant Recipient: American Society of Agronomy
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Luther Smith
American Society of Agronomy
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Project Information

Abstract:

Practical Farmers of Iowa and the American Society of Agronomy, together, created and delivered three, one hour webinars on cover crop production practices in 2016 and 2017. The 2017 series was also viewed by an in-person audience as part of a full day of educational programs. Their target audience included Certified Crop Advisers (CCA), Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAg), Certified Professional Soil Scientists (CPSS), Ag Retail personnel, Cooperative Extension personnel along with farmers. The purpose of these educational webinars was to increase the agricultural advisers’ knowledge level of cover crop production practices and enable said advisers to positively influence their farmer clients adoption rate of cover crops. These professionals are effective conduits to educate producers and targeting them with additional educational programs about cover crops was identified as a real way to increase implementation.

The webinars were created and delivered in the first quarter of 2016 and 2017 to over 7,900 participants with 87.7% stating that the webinars “added to my agronomy knowledge” in 2016 and 93.6% in 2017. Surveys were conducted in August 2016 and April of 2017 of the webinar participants to evaluate knowledge level, usefulness of the information and recommendations for future webinars.

Project Objectives:

Six, one-hour webinars created and delivered to 2,500 CCAs and 1,500 Ag Professionals about cover crops in the mid-west USA with three webinars concurrently supplementing three in-person events in 2016 and 2017 with the potential to reach 200,000 farmers.

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Sarah Carlson
  • Michele Lovejoy
  • Dr. Clay Robinson
  • Eric Welsh
  • Priscilla Westra

Education

Educational approach:

To reach the largest number of certified professionals, we implemented six webinars with three supplementing in-person meetings. Each webinar was one hour in length with time for questions and answers paring a scientist/expert and a farmer actually implementing what was being discussed. We then measured educational impact through online surveys.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

6 webinar series on cover crops
Objective:

Increase agronomy knowledge about cover crops and implementation of practices

Description:

2016 Webinars:

Feb 4:  Managing for Cover Crops – don’t forget the agronomic basics, attendance 1,414

Feb 11:  So why do you want to grow cover crops?, 1,497

Feb 19:  Show me the money! Can cover crops pay?, 1,657

Webinars were placed in the ASA online educational library and will have a three year life as self-paced learning.

2017 Webinars:

Jan 26 – Cover Crops and Pest Management – the good and bad, 1,148

            In-person site – Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, 60

Feb 2 – You know the basics, now what? Cover Crops 2.0, 1,147

            In-person site – Pulaski, WI, 41

Feb 9 – Scouting Cover Crops – what to look for, 1,123

            In-person site – White Rock, MO, 30

 

Webinars were placed in the ASA online educational library and will have a three year life as self-paced learning.

Outcomes and impacts:

August 2016:  Survey was developed and delivered online to webinar participants.  227 completed and returned the survey.  97% stated that they found the webinars somewhat valuable or valuable, 62% of the participants were CCAs and 50% were from the North Central Region, 87% said it added to their agronomy knowledge.  For each webinar, average knowledge level before the webinar was a 3/5 and after the webinar it was 4/5.  About 70% of those who learned a new practice would recommend it to their clients or implement it themselves if farming.

Survey data was used to develop the 2017 series by the advisory team and staff.

April 2017:  Survey was developed and delivered online to webinar participants.  186 completed and returned the survey.  93.6% stated that it “added to my agronomy knowledge”, 71% were CCAs and 44% were from the North Central region.  For each webinar, average knowledge level before the webinar was a 3/5 and after the webinar it was 4/5.  About 78% of those who learned a new practice would recommend it to their clients or implement it themselves if farming.

Educational & Outreach Activities

6 Webinars / talks / presentations

Learning Outcomes

7077 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
4954 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 New working collaboration
Project outcomes:

Impacts

Cover Crops for Ag Professionals Survey Responses with Charts

Cover-Crops-2017-Webinar-Series-–-Looking-Beyond-the-Basics-Survey-Responses-with-Charts

Our goal was to reach 2,500 CCAs, CPAgs, CPSS; 1,000 members of ASA, CSSA and SSSA whom include extension, university researchers and government personnel; and 500 innovative farmers over the two year life of the grant.

2016 Webinars:

Feb 4:  Managing for Cover Crops – don’t forget the agronomic basics, attendance 1,414

Feb 11:  So why do you want to grow cover crops?, 1,497

Feb 19:  Show me the money! Can cover crops pay?, 1,657

Webinars were placed in the ASA online educational library and will have a three year life as self-paced learning.

Survey:

August 2016:  Survey was developed and delivered online to webinar participants.  227 completed and returned the survey.  97% stated that they found the webinars somewhat valuable or valuable, 62% of the participants were CCAs and 50% were from the North Central Region, 87% said it added to their agronomy knowledge.  For each webinar, average knowledge level before the webinar was a 3/5 and after the webinar it was 4/5.  About 70% of those who learned a new practice would recommend it to their clients or implement it themselves if farming.

Survey data was used to develop the 2017 series by the advisory team and staff.

2017 Webinars:

Jan 26 – Cover Crops and Pest Management – the good and bad, 1,148

            In-person site – Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL, 60

Feb 2 – You know the basics, now what? Cover Crops 2.0, 1,147

            In-person site – Pulaski, WI, 41

Feb 9 – Scouting Cover Crops – what to look for, 1,123

            In-person site – White Rock, MO, 30

 

Webinars were placed in the ASA online educational library and will have a three year life as self-paced learning.

 

Survey:

April 2017:  Survey was developed and delivered online to webinar participants.  186 completed and returned the survey.  93.6% stated that it “added to my agronomy knowledge”, 71% were CCAs and 44% were from the North Central region.  For each webinar, average knowledge level before the webinar was a 3/5 and after the webinar it was 4/5.  About 78% of those who learned a new practice would recommend it to their clients or implement it themselves if farming.

Accomplishments

ASA cover crops report March 4 2016 Luther Smith –

2015 – advisory team was established with CCAs, ASA members (academia with cover crops focus) and farmers utilizing cover crops.  The 2016 webinar topics and speakers were identified along with delivery dates.

2016 – promotional materials were developed and delivered; three, one-hour webinars were created and delivered to over 4,500 CCAs, Ag Professionals and farmers in the first quarter; webinars were placed in the ASA online library as self-paced learning modules with a three year life; power point slides were made available; and an online survey was developed and conducted of those who participated in at least one of the webinars to gage knowledge level and adoption. 

2017 – webinar series with the concurrent in-person educational events were planned with the advisory team and staff.  Promotional materials were developed and delivered for the three one-hour webinars.  The webinar topics were based on the survey data received from the 2016 webinar series.  The webinars were delivered to over 3,400 participants and 131 in-person at three sites as part of an all-day training session.  The webinars were recorded and placed in the ASA on-line library as self-paced learning modules with a three year life.  The power point slides were made available and an online survey was developed and conducted of those who participated in the at least one of the webinars to gage knowledge level and adoption.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.