Sustainable Agronomy

Final report for ENC17-163

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $68,970.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
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:

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) (Societies) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program will be collaborating with other agricultural groups to offer educational programs at a one and a half day conference titled Sustainable Agronomy.  We are anticipating 150 to 200 attendees consisting of Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs), professional agronomists, soil scientists, crop scientists, agriculture retail lead personnel, extension educators, environmental consultants, university researchers/professors and farmers. The sessions will be livestreamed to a virtual audience throughout North America.  We anticipate from 500 to 1,000 down loads either live or later via the recorded version. Our primary outcome will be to increase the adoption rate of sustainable agronomy practices among farmers in the North Central Region of the US by addressing the question through educational sessions: I think I understand sustainability but what exactly can I do now and recommend to my farmer clients that will help them make their operations more sustainable?

Results:  The 1.5 day long conference was held on June 26 and 27, 2018 in Madison, WI.  Conference program is part of supporting materials.  We planned for 150 paid registrations and 190 total attendees including complimentary registrations for speakers, moderators, sponsors and staff.  We had 224 paid registrations with total attendees of 279.  Based on pre-conference survey data, full report in the supporting materials, our largest segment of attendees was CCAs at 21% followed by university agronomists at 14%. Live streaming of the conference was utilized but our attendance through for this was not as large as anticipate.  No session crossed over 10 attendees and we totaled 38 live, live streaming attendees over 7 sessions.  The sessions were recorded and will be hosted in the ASA online, education library for 3 years post conference.  A post conference survey of attendees with 41% completing it, revealed 74% rating the conference experience as satisfied or very satisfied.  43% stated that their knowledge on sustainable agronomy was ranked high or very high while on the post-conference survey this number increases to 63%.

The sessions will address current needs but also identify gaps that could lead to future educational programs and/or research in sustainable agriculture practices.  The four CCA competency areas – nutrient management; soil and water management; IPM; Crop Management – will set the broad topical areas. An advisory team of sustainability experts will be organized to help identify the specific topics and speakers.

Results:  The sessions were designed to be interactive with shorter presentations followed by panel discussions with audience participation.  The four CCA competency areas were used as the general topical area outline.  An advisory team of 14 professionals based in the north central region and representing industry and academia helped to identify specific topics and speakers.  The idea was to address current needs and provide practical information that could be used by CCAs with their clients.

Project Objectives:

Attendees and those viewing the live or recorded versions will increase their knowledge in sustainable agronomy practices. They will also increase their commitment to helping their clients adopt sustainable agronomy practices on their farms.  All meeting attendees will receive an electronic pre-meeting and post-meeting survey to measure their sustainable agriculture knowledge. Six to nine months post meeting event, a second survey will be sent to all meeting attendees to measure implementation of sustainable agronomy practices. Field to Markets’ Field Print Calculator will be utilized by at least 50 CCAs to measure and report progress at the farm level.

Results:  Pre and Post conference surveys were administered.  The pre-conference survey was completed by 54% of the attendees while 44% completed the post-conference survey.  In the 5 topical categories of economics, agronomy science, environmental impact, implementation and grower interest respondents ranking their knowledge in the high or very high levels increased by more than 10 points in all categories from pre to post conference.  78% indicated that they are likely or very likely to use the conference educational information while 89% indicated they will share or help implement the knowledge gained.  At the writing of this report, it was only one month post conference so the 6 to 9 month survey had not been conducted.

 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Rod Snyder (Educator)
  • Ryan Heiniger (Educator)
  • Kirsten Workman (Educator)
  • Clay Mitchell (Educator)
  • Carrie Vollmer Sanders (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

Result: In person, live event, conference style, sessions had one to three speakers who also participated on a panel discussion with audience participation. The event was also live streamed to a virtual audience and recorded for later viewing. Both passive (presentations) and active (panel discussions with audience interaction) adult education.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Session 1 - The economics of sustainable agronomy
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about the economic benefits of implementing sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on the economics of sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 13 points, moving up from 22% to 35% in the high and very high rank.

Session #1: Economics of Sustainable Agronomy
10:15 AM-10:45 AM
Sustainability Happens Acre-by-Acre: How Land O’Lakes is Connecting the Food Value Chain
Matt Carstens
Senior Vice President, Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN

10:45 AM-11:15 AM
The Business Case for Soil Health Focused Practices
Dave Muth, Ph.D.
Vice President of Agronomic Planning and Sustainability, EFC Systems, Inc.

11:15 AM-11:45 AM
Using Conservation Agronomy Practices in Indiana to Improve On-Farm Sustainability—Adoption and Economics
Betsy Bower, CCA
Agronomist, Ceres Solutions Cooperative

11:45 AM-12:10 PM
Session Question and Answer Period
Kate Schaffner
Senior Program Officer—Agriculture, World Wildlife Fund

Session 2 the agronomy of sustainable agronomy Part 1
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about the agronomic benefits of implementing sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on the science of sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 21 points, moving up from 42% to 63% in the high and very high rank.

Session #2: The Agronomy of Sustainable Agronomy—Part 1
1:20 PM-1:50 PM
Strategies for Sustainable Crop Production—Reduced Tillage, Cover Crops, Crop Rotations
Kirsten Workman, CCA
Agronomy Specialist, University of Vermont Extension

1:50 PM-2:20 PM
Nitrogen Balance as a Measure of Environmental Performance
Ken Cassman, Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor of Agronomy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2:20 PM-2:50 PM
Focusing on M.O.M. by Tracking the P.A.N.
Howard Brown, Ph.D., CCA, CPAg
Manager of Agronomic Information and Environmental Stewardship, Illini FS

2:50 PM-3:15 PM
Session Question and Answer Period
Randy Simonson, CCA
Division Agronomist, Helena Agri-Enterprises, LLC

Session 3 the agronomy of sustainable agronomy part 2
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about the agronomic benefits of implementing sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on the science of sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 21 points, moving up from 42% to 63% in the high and very high rank.

Session #3: The Agronomy of Sustainable Agronomy—Part 2
3:35 PM-4:05 PM
Precision Agriculture, Grower Profitability, and Resource Conservation
Ryan Heiniger
Director of Agriculture and Conservation Innovations, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever

4:05 PM-4:35 PM
Ecologically Sustainable Weed Management: Principles and Practices
Matt Liebman, Ph.D.
Professor of Agronomy and H.A. Wallace Chair for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University

4:35 PM-5:05 PM
Identifying Key Pest-management Practices for more Sustainable Soybean Production
Matt O’Neal, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Iowa State University

5:05 PM-5:30 PM
Session Question and Answer Period
Amy Asmus, CCA
Owner and Agronomist, Asmus Farm Supply, Inc.

Session 4 Grower perspectives on Sustainable Agronomy
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about the agronomic benefits of implementing sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on the implementation of sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 18 points, moving up from 26% to 44% in the high and very high rank.

Session #4: Grower Perspectives on Sustainable Agronomy
5:40 PM-6:25 PM
Clay Mitchell
Owner, The Mitchell Farm and Managing Director, Fall Line Capital

Deb Gangwish
Owner, PG Farms, Inc.

Maria Woldt
Director of Industry Relations, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative

Session 5 Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Agronomy
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about the environmental benefits of sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Two speakers presented information on the environmental benefits of sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 15 points, moving up from 50% to 65% in the high and very high rank.

Session #5: Environmental Benefits of Sustainable Agronomy
8:05 AM-8:35 AM
Conducting Realistic In-field Soil Health Assessments
Dennis Chessman, Ph.D., CCA
Team Leader—Soil Health Division, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

8:35 AM-9:05 AM
Cover Crops and Nitrogen Management impacts on Cash Crop Yield and Water Quality on Multiple Scales
Shalamar Armstrong, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Purdue University

9:05 AM-9:30 AM
Session Question and Answer Period
Jacob Ness, CCA
Field Manager, Soil Health Partnership

Carrie Vollmer-Sanders
Nutrient Strategy Manager, The Nature Conservancy

Session 6 Grower and agronomist success stories
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers about sustainable agronomy practices through stories about real world experiences and data.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on their experiences implementing sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 16 points, moving up from 24% to 40% in the high and very high rank.

Session #6: Grower and Agronomist Sustainable Agronomy Success Stories
9:40 AM-10:25 AM
Ag Retailer Products and Services Improving Water Quality and Sustainability
Tom Green, Ph.D., CCA
President, IPM Institute of North America

Lee Orians, CCA
Agronomist and Technical Services Provider, Heritage Cooperative

Neil Bair
Owner, Bair Family Farms

Session 7 implementation of sustainable agronomy
Objective:

To increase the knowledge of farm advisers regarding implementing sustainable agronomy practices.

Description:

Three speakers presented information on their experiences implementing sustainable agronomy practices and this was followed by a panel discussion fielding questions from the audience.

Outcomes and impacts:

Survey data of conference participants indicates that their knowledge in this area increased by 18 points, moving up from 26% to 44% in the high and very high rank.

Session #7: Implementation of Sustainable Agronomy
10:45 AM-11:15 AM
Software- and Metric-Based Sustainability Impact Assessments
Lexi Clark
Program Manager, Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture

Real-time Sustainability in Agricultural Communities
Luke Zwilling
Sustainability Projects and Integration Manager—Agricultural Engineer, Agrible, Inc.

11:15-11:45 AM
Engage with EASE: How to Communicate the Science with all Your Listeners
Julie Murphree
Director of Outreach, Arizona Farm Bureau

11:45 AM-12:10 PM
Session Question and Answer Period
Nathan Fries
Sustainability Manager, Cargill, Inc.

Educational & Outreach Activities

7 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
7 Online trainings
2 Published press articles, newsletters
29 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 surveys and related data to measure impact

Participation Summary

31 Extension
15 Agency
112 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
16 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

279 in person attendees
39 virtual attendees
the recorded versions will live on the ASA web page for 3 years
64 comments related to knowledge gained
71 comments related to future sustainable agronomy topics
48 comments related to future sustainable agronomy speakers
63 general comments about the conference
174 attendees say they will use the conference knowledge gained
199 attendees indicate they will or help implement the practices/ideas/knowledge learned
10 or more point increase in knowledge over the 5 topical areas between pre and post conference
12 organizational sponsors
25 speakers
9 moderators
7 virtual sessions
7 self paced learning modules for the ASA online library
2 surveys, pre and post for conference attendees
There will be a 6 to 9 months post conference survey to measure implementation impact
two articles along with speaker reviewers provided in Crops and soils magazine
Web site containing speaker bios and reviews along with the conference program
4 promotional video interviews
6 interviews about sustainability and the conference to encourage participation at future events and increase adoption rate of sustainable practices on the farm via the agronomy professionals recommendations

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.