Training Agriculture Service Providers on the Nitty-Gritty Details of No-Till and Cover Crop Practices for Greater Implementation

Progress report for ENE19-157

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $148,966.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2021
Grant Recipient: North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Bridgett Hilshey
North Jersey RC&D
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Project Information

Performance Target:

100 agricultural service providers (ASPs) who increase knowledge related to specific techniques and challenges associated with planting cover crops and adopting no-till in commodity crop systems, will provide comprehensive technical assistance to 600 farmers, operating 60,000 acres of cropland, regarding transitioning to no-till and implementing cover crops.

Introduction:

Within the Delaware River Basin, 7200 farmers cultivate corn and soybeans on over one million acres. As a consequence of current land management practices, 75% of cropped acres are losing soil organic carbon every year, and 51% of cropped acres have “a high-level need for additional conservation treatment” (NRCS 2014).

Transitioning to no-till and implementing cover crop are among the most cost-effective tools to reverse soil carbon loss and improve soil health (Zhou et al. 2009); the economic, agronomic and environmental benefits of these practices are well known within the farming community, and many non-users have considered no-till and cover crop implementation (Arbuckle and Ferrell 2012; CTIC 2017). However, transitioning from conventional farming to no-till and cover crops is complicated and demands a substantial investment in time to learn the information necessary to succeed. Farmers face hurdles including field soil preparation, equipment purchasing decisions, and impacts on agronomic practices. Google search data demonstrates that farmers are trying to learn about practice implementation; terms “how to plant cover crop”, “row cleaner”, “closing wheel”, and “no-till colter” are three to twenty-four times more popular than the search terms “cover crop species” and “cover crop benefits”, topics which a receive greater attention by ASPs. For many farmers, lack of knowledge is a barrier to implementation (Arbuckle and Ferrell 2012; Kitchen et al. 2002; Mcrobert and Rickards 2010)

Many agricultural service providers (ASPs) cannot meet the farmer’s need for technical assistance (NFWF 2017). In a survey of Delaware River Basin ASPs, less than half could identify no-till equipment and even fewer could answer basic questions regarding cover crop establishment and termination methods. ASPs who do not fully understand the practices they promote, cannot effectively encourage farmers to adopt conservation practices nor assist farmers with the transition process. Reliance on accessible, high-quality technical assistance is an essential component of successful modern-day, sustainable agriculture. Among farmers seeking assistance from ASPs, the knowledge gap discourages not only cover crop and no-till implementation but also contributes to the lack to trust between ASPs and farmers.

Existing print and digital resources do not meet the needs of farmers. They tend to heavily emphasize soil health, species comparisons, and research results. Resources lack precise instructions and equipment configuration recommendations. The excess information can lead farmers to become overwhelmed with options. Farmers often rely on blogs and hearsay for advice regarding drills, planters, coulters, interseeders, row cleaners, closing wheels, etc.

North Jersey RC&D is creating an education program, serving ASPs throughout the Delaware River Basin, that will train ASPs to more effectively promote, encourage and facilitate no-till and cover crop implementation. This project will engage 120 ASPs, including extension agents, NRCS, FSA, soil conservation districts, crop consultants and others, in a comprehensive education program that focuses on preparation for and implementation of no-till and cover crops.

To encourage subject mastery, a three-step approach will be used: teach, review, apply. Topics will be introduced at a broad level during a series of lunch-and-learns held via webinar. The material will be reviewed during field-based workshops which incorporate active learning pedagogical techniques and material will be reinforced during subsequent Listserv discussions. As participants apply learning, project leaders will be available for consultation and assistance as needed. To supplement ASP-farmer interactions, the project will generate detailed, practical recommendations for a comprehensive list of the common no-till or cover crop scenarios using insights from experienced farmers.

To reduce participant travel requirements and facilitate higher enrollment, the workshops will be replicated at four locations throughout the Delaware River Basin. The project coordinator will measure changes in participants’ knowledge and skills as a result of project participation, and track participants’ delivery technical assistance to farmer and farmer’s subsequent actions.

A network of educated and knowledge ASPs will support farmers transition to no-till and cover cropping and reduce the knowledge barrier that discourages implementation. Access to well-informed ASPs and succinct unbiased education materials will simplify the transition process, reduce uncertainty, and increase the likelihood of farmer success.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Kristen Meistrell
  • Lamonte Garber
  • Dave Wilson (Educator)

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

The curriculum will be guided by the participant’s existing knowledge and advisory board insights.  To encourage subject mastery, the project will use a three-step approach to education: teach, review, apply.  Cover crop implementation will be introduced during a two-hour webinar (March 2020) and reviewed during a one-day field-based workshop (April 2020).  Steps to successful no-till transition will be introduced during a webinar (August 2020) and reviewed during a one-day field-based workshop (September 2020).  COVID REVISION: ASPs took part in a five-week No-till and Cover Crop Implementation online education program (Summer 2020).  Participants, divided into three regional cohorts, were introduced to complex topics through at-home assignments which included reading chapters of the course manual and watching select videos.  During 1.5-hour webinars, topics were reviewed and elaborated upon through experiences and discussions guided by leading experts.  Webinars were designed to be highly interactive and used video and images to teach cover crop application methods, rates, species, and termination solutions.  

Optional fall 2021 field workshop will be highly interactive; participants with interacting with no-till equipment, cover cropping equipment, and cover crop plots and will be challenged to ask questions, interact in discussions, and incident process.

After completing coursework, ASPs will be able to answer the most common questions posed by commodity crop farmers beginning no-till and cover-cropping.  Specifically, the program will educate farmers regarding steps a farmer takes and the choices and decisions made when adopting no-till and cover crops and provide them with the necessary information to be a useful information source to farmers.

 

** All revisions made in response to COVID, will be italics.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

PROJECT RECRUITMENT:
200 ASPs in the Delaware River Basin (NY, PA, DE, and NJ) receive recruitment invitations to participate in the education program through targeted phone-calls, emails, flyers, and message boards. Fall 2019

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
200
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
250
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
July 15, 2020
Accomplishments:

Although we had initially planned to conduct one training in the fall of 2019 and a second training in the spring of 2020, during meetings and conversations with the project advisory team, there was overwhelming agreement that both ASP training events should take place in late summer and early fall.  As a result, we have delayed participant recruitment until the spring of 2020. 

As the COVID pandemic began to take form, NJRCD made the decision to move all training online. During the summer of 2020, NJRCD and project partners (NJ Audubon and Stroud Water Research Center) outreached, via email and social media, to New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland NRCS, Soil Conservation District, Extension, and agricultural non-profit and for-profit staff.  NJRCD created a course website (https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/train) and a flyer (Training Flyer) that was used to assist promote the program.

To broaden program value, NJRCD worked closely with staff at the Maryland Department of Agriculture and Penn State Extension to offer continuing education nutrient management credits to program participants for participation in zoom-based webinars AND completion of at-home assignments/reading.  In addition, NJRCD worked with the Certified Crop Advisor organization to offer Continuing Education Units to program participants.  By offering credits, the education program was listed/advertised through each of the respective organization's websites and the appeal was broader to included seasoned professionals with multiple years of experience.  This ensures a diverse mixture of beginners and experts were enrolled in the online education program. 

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

120 ASPs will apply online to participate in one of four locations. Applicants will commit to attending webinars and in-field workshops, changing behavior by consulting with farmers in new ways, and completing surveys. Fall 2019

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
7
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
81
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
July 27, 2020
Accomplishments:

COVID MILESTONE REVISION

120 ASPs will apply online to participate in one of three regional cohorts. Applicants will commit to attending webinars, completing at-home reading assignments, and completing surveys. Fall 2020.

________________________________________________________________________________

81 ASPs and 7 farmers applied to be part of the No-till and Cover Crop Online Education Program through the online application (https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/asp-application). NJRCD successfully outreached to a broad coalition of ASPs; applicants included ASPs from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New-York. Affiliations of applications were as follows:

  • 16 employees of agro-business, including crop consultants, seed dealers, and equipment suppliers
  • 17 Soil Conservation District staff
  • 11 employees of University Extension (Penn State, Rutgers, and the University of Maryland)
  • 7 farmers
  • 17 federal NRCS staff
  • 14 agricultural service providers from regional non-profits
  • 4 State Department of Agriculture staff (NJ and PA)

Applicants agreed to take part in a five-part, interactive, webinar training series emphasizing no-till and cover crop implementation that will train agricultural service providers to better support farmers who are preparing for and implementing in-field soil health practices.   

Webinars occurred once a week for five weeks during August, and early September from 9:00 to 10:30 am. To keep group sizes small and encourage a more regional dialog, each workshop was offered three times each week. Each day of the week emphasized a different region with different soils, climates, and crops.  Participants were encouraged to attend the same workshop every week, but if a scheduling conflict arose, were also welcome to attend different workshops.  

Lower than anticipated attendance was believed to be a response to the following:

  • Webinar Overload: Managers and organization leaders indicated that staff were overwhelmed by online zoom-based meeting commitments and were reluctant to engage in a 7.5-hour program during a busy time of the year. 
  • Busy Schedules: As a result of COVID, the deadline for NRCS was pushed back.  Therefore, although NRCS leadership had initially indicated that the August-September period was not typically a “busy” time, NRCS staff were overwhelmed by the last-minute deadlines to finalize contracts. 
Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

PRE-TRAINING ENGAGEMENT
120 ASPs are chosen to participate and upon notification will complete an online assessment of their knowledge and learning needs. December 2019

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
7
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
81
Proposed Completion Date:
December 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
August 3, 2020
Accomplishments:

WINTER 2019 – PRIOR TO RECRUITMENT

To assess ASP educational needs, NJRCD sent out an online survey to over 50 individuals in leadership positions within NRCS, soil conservation districts, extension, and non-profits with agricultural conservation emphasis. The purpose of this survey was two-fold: (1) we were able to get a lot more insight into staff training needs and (2) we were able to educate more managers and organization leaders about the project goals to increase buy-in. 

We received 25 responses to our survey of ASP managers; the survey results are summarized here.  Individuals in leadership positions were very interested in their staff attending training emphasizing a wide variety of no-till and cover crop topics.  Topics that collectively ranked the highest were:

  • Cover Crop Selection and Purchase
  • Tips to increase success drilling cover crop
  • Steps to a successful transition to no-till
  • Nutrient Management in a no-till system
  • When is No-till Not Appropriate

SUMMER 2020 – POST RECRUITMENT

North Jersey RC&D worked with the advisory board to develop a pre-assessment that was fair and accurately measured knowledge of critical topics. 72 program participants completed an online assessment of their knowledge and learning needs. Score distribution was normally distributed with most participants answering less than 1/3 of questions correctly. The questions and responses are summarized here: Pre-Assessment 

The results of the assessment indicated that many applicants lacked even the most basic knowledge about no-till and cover crop implementation. Applicants were especially challenged by questions pertaining to no-till equipment, cover crop selection, and cover crop termination. 

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

120 participants receive a manual containing detailed practical recommendations for a comprehensive list of the common no-till or cover crop scenarios developed using insights from experienced farmers and technical service providers, and copies of a paper worksheet (and an online version) for collecting data about their actions advising farmers and any resulting actions farmers take. Spring 2020

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Actual number of farmer beneficiaries who participated:
10
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
94
Proposed Completion Date:
May 31, 2020
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
July 27, 2020
Accomplishments:

COVID MILESTONE REVISION

120 Participants received a comprehensive course manual describing implementation no-till and cover crop best practices developed using insights from experienced farmers and technical service providers. Summer 2020

_______________________________________

Recognizing that no-till and cover crop implementation was too complex to teach in a series of short webinars, NJRCD created a comprehensive course manual.  In this way, the course could function more like a college course, with participants reading and learning material at home before lectures.  

The manual, entitled, “A Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crops in the Mid-Atlantic” was created in collaboration with local farmers, agronomists, and ASPs.  It was specifically designed to meet the following objectives: 

  • Comprehensive
    While there are a plethora of short handouts, website articles, and guides pertaining to various aspects of no-till and cover crop implementation, there was no single comprehensive resource that ASPs and farmers could read in order to ascertain the requisite information necessary to be successful with in-field soil health practices.  The book “A Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crop Implementation” is the most comprehensive guide, to date.
  • Easily Digestible
    Recognizing that very few ASPs or farmers have the time or willingness to sit down and read a 100+ page book, “A Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crop Implementation” was designed to be easily “skimmable."  The book includes many full-page color images that clearly depict activities or equipment.  Icons and diagrams were incorporated to organize complex information.  The text was organized in short paragraphs emphasized by descriptive headings.  This format not only makes the book more engaging and interesting but it also allowed more experienced readers to casually “skim” the document and still learn a great deal. 
  • Practical
    A “Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crop Implementation” was designed to focus on what farmers need to know to be successful. Unlike many resources, this manual does not contain research summaries, detailed cover crop species comparisons, nor any soil health or soil science data showing the benefits of these practices.  Instead, the manual contains precise instructions and equipment configuration recommendations sourced from a combination of research results, crop consultant recommendations, and most importantly, farmers’ insights.  
  • Regional Specific:
    The writers and reviewers of the manual focused on the cropping systems, climate, and soils of the mid-Atlantic regions. This enabled the manual to be more concise and regionally relevant.  

The manual was drafted by North Jersey RC&D and reviewed by 15 ASPs and/or farmers (including 7 expert farmers with significant background in no-till and cover crops, 3 agronomists, as well as a staff specializing in soil health practice implementation at NRCS and prominent non-profits).  Reviewers contributed images, expert tips, and advice. The final document is 182 pages long and included more than 100 photos or diagrams.  The manual was professionally printed and mailed to over 100 individuals, including all project participants, advisors, and reviewers. 

The manual was very well received.  Since the conclusion of the course, multiple program participants have reached out to North Jersey RC&D requesting additional copies for colleagues.  In addition, copies of the manual have been provided to farmers beginning no-till and cover crop practices.  

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

LEARNING DURING EDUCATION PROGRAM
120 ASPs attend webinars introducing the program, leadership team, performance target verification plan, and the listserv. February 2020

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
82
Proposed Completion Date:
February 29, 2020
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 3, 2020
Accomplishments:

COVID MILESTONE REVISION:

120 ASPs attend 5-part webinars series aimed at educating agricultural service providers regarding no-till and cover crop implementation.  August-September 2020

_____________________________

NJRCD worked closely with the advisory committee to develop an educational plan and agenda for the five-part interactive online educational program.  The overarching goal was to develop an interactive curriculum that combines short presentations by farmers and agricultural professionals with group discussions to expose participants to critical topics. 

To encourage subject mastery, the educational program used a three-step approach to education: teach, review, apply. 

  • TEACH: Participants read the chapters from the course manual “A Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crop in the Mid-Atlantic” and watched educational videos, prior to the webinar, to obtain foundational knowledge. This system enables participants with less experience in the subject to spend more time learning important content.  Participants answered short questions or quizzes to verify that they completed the necessary at-home assignment. 
  • REVIEW: During webinars, instructors lectured about the most important points from the readings, emphasizing details critical for the ASPs success working with farmers. 
  • APPLY: Between lectures, during webinars, participants took part in critical thinking, problem-solving, and discussion-based exercises, predominately in small breakout seasons, applying information from the readings, to solve common questions and problems related to no-till and cover crop implementation. 

All course information, including webinar links, project files, weekly assignments, and a “More Resources” section were listed on a course website: https://www.northjerseyrcd.org/ntcc. Summaries of each workshop, the total attendance at each workshop, and a link to one of the three webinars are listed below.  To learn more about the content of each webinar, see the educational plan and agenda

*Additional participants viewed recordings of webinars when work constraints did not allow them to attend the webinar in person.  The number of individuals who viewed recordings is not reflected in the "number of participants.

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

120 ASPs attend webinars introducing cover crop implementation; shortly thereafter, participants will attend one of four one-day field-based workshops held throughout the Delaware River Basin reviewing cover crop selection, establishment, and termination. Spring 2020

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Proposed Completion Date:
May 31, 2020
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

COVID MILESTONE REVISION
120 ASPs attend a one-day field-based workshop showcasing no-till equipment, cover crop establishment, and advanced no-till and cover crop practices (Pending COVID severity). Fall 2021

_____________________________________

 

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

ENGAGEMENT TO SUPPORT ACTION
120 participants receive further education and support from the leadership team, advisory board and multiple knowledgeable experts through interactions on a project Listserv. Interactions through the Listserv help provide value to participants by allowing the project team to continue to respond to additional learning needs as participants provide technical assistance to farmers. Feb. 2020-ongoing

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

120 ASPs receive quarterly reminders throughout the project to track farmer interactions for inclusion on worksheets assessing primary action outcomes. Ongoing to September 2021

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
120
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Accomplishments:

81 ASPs enrolled in the program received two reminders to complete an online form assessing primary action outcomes. 31 program participants completed the form assessing primary action outcomes.  To increase participation in the next round of assessments of action outcomes, NJRCD will be contacting participants on the phone, as needed.  

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

10 participants will receive additional on-one-one support/consultations with the project leader, as needed. 2020-2021

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
10
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #10 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

VERIFICATION OF ACTIONS AND CHANGES
100 participants respond to an online survey assessing learning outcomes. Winter 2020

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
48
Proposed Completion Date:
December 31, 2020
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
December 18, 2020
Accomplishments:

48 program participants completed a short online survey and post-assessment.

The post-assessment questions and corresponding results can be viewed here: Post-Assessment.  Participants scored much higher on the post-assessment compared to the pre-assessment.  On average, applicants correctly answered 72% of all questions.  The median number of correct responses was 10/14.  This represents a 44% improvement compared to the pre-assessment. Furthermore, on the pre-assessment, over half of the participants answered less than 40% of questions correctly highlighting a substantial knowledge gap; on the post-assessment, over half of the participants answered more than 72% of questions correctly. 

In addition to assessing the program objectives through a pre-and post-assessment, NJRCD administered is a survey to program participants focused on their opinions of the educational program. The results can be viewed here: SurveyResults.  

  • The majority of participants ranked the course manual, webinars, and instructors as excellent.
  • The majority of participants rated the reading assignments from the course manual, video watching assignments, instructor's lectures, and breakout discussions as very useful.
  • The majority of participants felt significantly more prepared to discuss preparing for no-till and more prepared to discuss cover crop selection, cover crop application, and cover crop termination with farmers.
  • 95% of participants indicated that they would recommend this course to a colleague.  
  • Comments indicated that most participants enjoyed the course.  The most significant complaint was that the course manual contained distracting typos. 

 

Milestone #11 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

100 participants complete and return worksheets assessing primary action outcomes actions, specifically action taken assisting and educating farmers. Summer 2021

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2021
Status:
In Progress
Milestone #12 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

100 participants who complete all verification steps (response to surveys and submission of completed worksheets) receive a course completion certificate. Summer 2021

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2021
Status:
In Progress

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Online trainings
15 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participants in the project’s educational activities:

11 Extension
17 NRCS
14 Nonprofit
4 Agency
35 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
7 Farmers
81 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

48 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

90% or more of Program Participants stated they were "more prepared to talk with farmers about the following topics after taking this course":
- How to Prepare for No-till
- No-till and Nutrient Management
- No-till Equipment
- No-till Troubleshooting
- Cover Crop Selection
- Cover Crop Application
- Cover Crop Termination

METHODS USED TO COLLECT LEARNING OUTCOME DATA:
Improvement in knowledge and skills was verified by comparing pre- and post-assessments.
Changes in knowledge and attitudes were further verified by asking participants if they felt more prepared to discuss various no-till and cover crop implementation topics after completing the course.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Target #1

Target: number of service providers who will take action to educate/advise farmers:
100
Target: actions the service providers will take:

100 agricultural service providers (ASPs) who increase knowledge related to specific techniques and challenges associated with planting cover crops and adopting no-till in commodity crop systems, will provide comprehensive technical assistance to 600 farmers, operating 60,000 acres of cropland, regarding transitioning to no-till and implementing cover crops.

Target: number of farmers the service providers will educate/advise:
600
Target: amount of production these farmers manage:

60,000 acres of cropland

Verified: number of service providers who reported taking actions to educate/advice farmers:
28
Verified: number of farmers the service providers reported educating/advising through their actions:
62
Verified: amount of production these farmers manage:

20792 acres of cropland

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
  • 5 Consultations
  • 1 Published press articles/newsletters
  • 12 Webinars/talks/presentations
28 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
175 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

81 ASPs received two reminders to complete an online form assessing primary action outcomes.  31 program participants completed the form assessing primary action outcomes.  Participants indicated that they used information from the manual and/or training to provide technical assistance to 62 farmers, farming 20,792 acres. In addition, ASPs used information in the training in 16 webinars/meetings reaching an estimated 113 farmers.

To increase participation in the next round of assessments of action outcomes, NJRCD will be contacting participants on the phone, as needed. 

Additional Project Outcomes

1 Grant applied for that built upon this project
1 Grant received that built upon this project
$933,970.00 Dollar amount of grant received that built upon this project
Additional Outcomes Narrative:

As North Jersey RC&D researched no-till and cover crop implementation, it became apparent that a major impediment to greater soil health practice implementation was the lack of proper equipment and lack of quality, regionally relevant research.  North Jersey RC&D applied for, as received an NRCS CIG On-farm Research Trial Soil Health Demonstration: Innovative Strategies for Cover Crop Termination: Demonstrating the Full Agronomic and Economic Value of Cover Crops to Accelerate Soil Health Management System Adoption. The grant funds equipment retrofits for farmers who try "Planting Green", "Roller-Crimping" or "Grazing Cover Crop" as well as in-depth soil health and economic analysis.  Funding and research from the grant will be used to inform Chapter 3: "Advanced Soil Health Practices" in the course manual: "A Practical Guide to No-till and Cover Crop in the Mid-Atlantic". 

Success stories:

QUOTES FROM POST ASSESSMENT SURVEY:

  • " I thought this was one of the best, and most useful trainings I've ever taken. The manual, aside from a few typos, is a perfect guide. I really appreciated the reading assignments, I got a lot out of them."
  • "Really enjoyed this course! Covered a lot of information not usually covered in other trainings. Very practical and can be directly used with farmers out in the field."
  • "GREAT course! The format was exceptionally engaging, the speakers made the material very accessible and the tone of the class was friendly, supportive, and fun. The website was easy to navigate and provides great additional info with videos and the list of additional resources."
  • "Although this was a different setting for trainings, I felt that each was well prepared for and that the online version was smooth. I look forward to other training opportunities from RC&D"

Information Products

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.