Successful nutrient management requires better communication among the parties responsible for planning and implementing changes in management practices. Key participants in the Western Integrated Nutrient Management Education Project include Cooperative Extension and Natural Resources Conservation Service representatives in the Pacific Northwest. The project produced 17 workshops, held in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, with a total attendance of over 400. Follow-up survey data indicate that participants are using the knowledge they gained in their work. Evaluation results document that on average the first year workshop participants cumulatively impact 500,000 acres. Three Pacific Northwest Extension publications related to nutrient management were produced
The goal of the Western Integrated Nutrient Management Education (WINME) Project is to increase the ability of agricultural professionals to support landowners in sustainable nutrient management decisions that minimize negative impacts of nutrients on the environment and human health. To promote this goal the project has the following objectives:
Train agricultural professionals in technical and participatory planning aspects of nutrient management to enhance their capacity to provide sustainable field, farm, and watershed level assistance
Create educational materials and resources that provide up-to-date, cutting-edge research information in a practical format
Facilitate communication between agricultural support professionals, farmers, and regulatory agencies to create fundamental improvements in the regulatory climate
Evaluate the education program and provide guidance for training in other states of the Western Region
Minimizing the negative effects of nutrients on surface and groundwater quality is essential to the environmental stewardship objective of sustainable agriculture. Across the US, farmers, agricultural support professionals, and researchers are working together to find ways that diminish non-point source nutrient discharge form agricultural fields. Landowners and agricultural support professionals are often overwhelmed by the amount of new research information available regarding this complex task. Support professionals have expressed the need for increased nutrient management training. Nutrient management at field, farm and watershed levels involves synthesizing a large amount of information and creating a workable plan. Educational programming that incorporates local issues and provides a hands-on approach is an important component of conservation planning efforts among farmers, extension faculty, and agency personnel.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Project organization and planning team activities
In September 2001, Mary Staben began as the project coordinator. The initial project meeting was held on October 4 and 5 in Oregon City, Oregon. The meeting was attended by the principal investigators from Idaho, Oregon and Washington, this included Dan Sullivan, John Hart, Robert Stevens, Brad Brown, Stefan Seiter, Michael Robotham, Don Horneck and Mary Staben. Many important topics were covered at this meeting, including the goals and outcomes of the project. The Project Team decided to create a more useful project name, Western Integrated Nutrient Management Education (WINME) Project.
The responsibilities of the nine project team members includes:
Dan Sullivan: Principal investigator: provides overall project leadership and serves as trainer. Supervises project coordinator.
Brad Brown: Coordinates educational efforts in Idaho, serves as trainer and assists in recruiting extension participants.
Robert Stevens: Coordinates educational efforts in central and eastern Washington, serves as trainer and assists in developing the technical resource and workshop materials.
Mary Staben: Coordinates workshop activities, develops workshop materials, and assists in developing technical resource materials. Designs and facilitates participant evaluation of project impacts and outcomes. Maintains project website.
John Hart: Leads the development of technical resource materials, assists in coordination of program activities.
Don Horneck: Serves as trainer and assists in developing resource materials
Joe Harrison: Coordinates educational efforts in western Washington. Serves as trainer for whole farm nutrient management practices.
Craig Cogger: Assists in publication development and educational efforts in western Washington.
Jason Ellsworth: Serves as trainer and assists in developing resource materials.
The first annual project meeting was held in December 2001 to outline the direction for each of the three Extension publications. Dan Sullivan, John Hart, Bob Stevens, Don Horneck and Mary Staben were present. We spent the bulk of the day determining the content areas and examples for the publication titled “Monitoring soil nutrients using a management unit approach.”
We held our 2002 annual planning meeting was in Boardman, Oregon on October 9 and 10. The meeting was attended by Dan Sullivan, Mary Staben, Robert Stevens, Don Horneck and Brad Brown. This two-day meeting covered:
Progress on continuing education proficiency tests and credits available from the internet for CCA’s
Discussing how to bring about an interest Oregon, Washington and Idaho in having a consistent lab certification standard for the PNW
Planning upcoming 2003 project workshops and activities
At the initial planning meeting it was decided that monthly teleconferences with the eleven-member project team would be a good way to stay connected and assist each other in developing educational programs. During the past two years there have been 14 hour-long teleconferences. These regular teleconferences serve to keep the project team connected by sharing ideas and information related to nutrient management educational resource creation and implementation. As a group we found these regular calls helpful in maintaining continuity in our activities across the three states. The coordinator emailed out the minutes to all team members after each call.
The project organized or sponsored 17 workshops in Idaho, Washington and Oregon (Tables 1 and 2). Project team members used participatory activities in their sessions. The purpose of incorporating an interactive component into presentation was to support the learning process in a more personal way. Even though this approach requires more time we found that is was worthwhile to the participants. More information on workshops in presented in the Publications and Outreach section of this report.
Outreach and Publications
Key outputs of the project are:
Small (30 participants or less) interactive workshops for nutrient management planners, regulators and producers
Extension publications on key regional nutrient management issues
Project website with a variety of nutrient management resources
The follow publications were produced by project team members to provide resources specifically for agricultural professionals working in nutrient management. All three of the publications are available as PDF files and one is also an interactive html file; the publications can be found at the OSU Extension Experiment and Station Communications website (http://eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/EdMat/). Since these are Pacific Northwest publications they can also be found online at Washington State University and University of Idaho. These publications will be used in upcoming trainings supported by a new educational grant from the National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Post-harvest Soil Nitrate Testing for Manured Cropping Systems West of the Cascades
After the Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop at the end of February 2002, some members of the project team met in May with NRCS state-level personnel from Washington and Oregon to create the outline for a new publication on monitoring fall soil nitrate. Many workshop participants, including NRCS, regulatory agency personnel, agricultural professionals and producers, expressed their desire for a new publication to be created to address the shortcomings of the Washington State NRCS Tech Note 35, Guide to “Report Card” Soil Testing that was currently in use. During this meeting the needs and concerns of NRCS and Extension were shared and addressed. A draft version of the new publication, Post-harvest soil nitrate testing in manured cropping systems west of the Cascades, was posted on the project website and agricultural professionals were invited to serve as reviewers for this publication to widen the involvement and ownership in the process. This collaborative effort was a new approach to creating resources that meet the needs of the users.
In May 2003 the final version of the publication was posted on the internet at http://eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/edmat/EM8832-E.pdf
Monitoring Soil Nutrients Using a Management Unit Approach
The idea for this publication came from the WCC-103 Nutrient Management and Water Quality Technical Committee. The goal of this publication is to assist agricultural professionals to design strategies to track soil nutrients over time. Team members from this project wrote the publication and members of WCC-103 reviewed the publication. In October 2003 the final version of the publication was posted on the internet at http://eesc.orst.edu/agcomwebfile/edmat/PNW570-E.pdf
The Phosphorus Index: A Field-scale Screening Tool for Resource Conservation
The purpose of this publication is to provide research-based information to agricultural professionals and producers using the Oregon or Washington Phosphorus Index. Conservation practices are described that address source and transport factors that can reduce phosphorus loss from farm fields. This publication also provides references to numerous online documents and websites that provide further information on phosphorus management. In December 2003 this publication was posted online at
Nutrient Management Workshops
Since the inception of this project, we have produced 5 workshops in Idaho, 8 workshops in Washington and 4 workshops in Oregon with total attendance of 411 (Tables 1 and 2). A key aspect of the trainings produced by the project is the use of interactive education methods that focus on problem solving in small groups and tailored nutrient management case studies for local audiences.
The project has been unique in tackling complex issues that require dialogue among producers, NRCS, conservation districts, Extension faculty and private vendors. For example, the project sponsored a February 2002 workshop in western Washington that evaluated the value and limitations of soil nitrate monitoring required under NRCS Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). As a result of the workshop, project team members Dan Sullivan and Craig Cogger co-authored a new Pacific Northwest Extension publication that updated an NRCS Tech Note. A draft of the new Post-harvest Soil Nitrate Testing in Manured Cropping Systems West of the Cascades publication was made available via the WINME Project website and was reviewed by over 15 public and private agricultural professionals (see Publication section). In 2003 we held three one-day workshops in western Washington to educate producers on strategies for managing nitrogen in manured cropping systems and to explain the guidelines offered in the publication.
Table 1. Educational workshops produced by the Western Integrated Nutrient Management Education Project in Year 1.
Organizer(s), Title, Date, Location, Attendance
Dan Sullivan and John Hart, Animal Waste Management Workshop, Dec. 4-5, 2001, Salem, OR, 40
Brad Brown and Jason Ellsworth, Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Workshop, Feb. 6, 2002, Caldwell, ID, 23
Robert Stevens, Managing Organic Nutrients as a Part of a Nutrient Management Plan, Feb. 26-27, 2002, Prosser, WA, 14
Joe Harrison, Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop and Forum, Feb. 28-March 1, 2002, Puyallup, WA, 67
Dan Sullivan, Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning, March 4-6, 2002, Salem, OR, 22
Brad Brown and Jason Ellsworth, Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Workshop, March 6, 2002, Twin Falls, ID, 16
Mary Staben and Don Horneck, Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning, March 18-20, 2002, Pendleton, OR, 24
Total attendance, 206
Table 2. Educational workshops produced by the Western Integrated Nutrient Management Education Project in Year 2.
Organizer(s), Title, Date, Location, Attendance
Robert Stevens and Don Horneck, Managing Organic Nutrients as a Part of a Nutrient Management Plan, November 18, 2002, Yakima, WA, 17
Robert Stevens and Don Horneck, Managing Organic Nutrients as a Part of a Nutrient Management Plan (held in conjunction with Far West Conference), December 16, 2002, Spokane, WA, 68
Joe Harrison, Dan Sullivan and Mary Staben , Managing Nitrate for Profit and Stewardship, January 28, 2003, Rochester, WA, 17
Joe Harrison, Dan Sullivan and Mary Staben , Managing Nitrate for Profit and Stewardship, January 29, 2003, Everett, WA, 22
Joe Harrison, Dan Sullivan and Mary Staben , Managing Nitrate for Profit and Stewardship, January 30, 2003, Lynden, WA, 24
Dan Sullivan, Mary Staben and Don Horneck , Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning, March 10-12, 2003, Redmond, OR, 9
Brad Brown and Jason Ellsworth , Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Workshop, March. 11, 2003, Idaho Falls, ID, 15
Brad Brown and Jason Ellsworth , Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Workshop, March. 12, 2003, Pocatello, ID, 7
Brad Brown and Jason Ellsworth , Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Workshop, March 26, 2003, Moscow, ID, 26
Total attendance, 205
Overview of Project Evaluation
The purpose of this project evaluation was to assess how well participant needs were being met and to provide feedback to trainers. The information gained through the evaluation process was used to modify workshop content and improve workshop format to better meet the participant needs and preferences. The methods used include at-event evaluation and follow-up surveys and interviews. In the two years of the project 16 workshops were evaluated with 315 surveys collected and 136 people participated in follow-up surveys or interviews. Results show that most participants highly valued the participatory activities used in project workshops. For most workshop content areas surveyed there were measurable changes in knowledge. We were also able to document participant intentions to use the new information in their work. The follow-up surveys confirmed that the participants were applying the knowledge gained from the workshops. We learned that participants had increased communication with others on topic presented at the workshop. The evaluation data was successful in providing Project Team members with useful insights and feedback that allowed them to improve their programs or confirm that they were providing what the participants needed. When all of the evaluation data is viewed as a whole it shows that the project had significant impact by providing the educational opportunities and resources valued and used by Pacific Northwest agricultural professionals.
Below are the methods and results for the workshop evaluation by year and event. Follow-up evaluation was conducted at the end of the first year using both phone interviews and mail survey. Project Team members were surveyed to better understand how the project was progressing at the end of the first year. The final evaluation activity was a user survey of the Post-harvest soil nitrate testing in manured cropping systems west of the Cascades publication.
Year 1 At-event Evaluation
A retrospective pretest was used for the at-event evaluation for the six of the seven workshops in 2002 (Table 1). The surveys were completed by participants at the end of the workshop; the participants comparatively assess their knowledge or views after the workshop with their knowledge or views prior to the workshop (See Year 1 Sample Survey). There were five content-based questions for each workshop with numeric ratings of 0 (low) to 10 (high) for before and after knowledge levels; the specific content areas varied according to workshop objectives. Ten questions relating to the participatory activities and take-home materials, termed “process” questions, were asked at all workshops. Five of the process questions were based on a 0-to-10 scale and two of the process questions included before and after ratings as mentioned above. Participants were also asked to respond to five questions that required written responses. These questions mainly focused on how the workshop content or activities could be improved. The retrospective pretest data on content and process were analyzed using a paired t-test at a 95% confidence interval. A total of 126 surveys were completed at the six workshops. The written responses were qualitatively analyzed by group responses into themes by the project coordinator.
Summary and Conclusions from At-Event Workshop Evaluation – Year 1
The increase in knowledge in the various content areas strongly suggests that the presentations and activities at the workshops were successful at conveying information to the participants (Appendix 1). For most of the content-based questions, the changes in before and after knowledge were significantly different. For the participatory activities, the amount of change the participants reported is much smaller than the changes for the content-based questions. This might have been expected since the participatory workshops were not specifically designed to stretch the participants’ experience in group activities, whereas the content portion of these workshops were designed to present new data and concepts.
NRCS Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning Training
Dan Sullivan, Don Horneck and Mary Staben worked with Tom Gohlke at Oregon NRCS to create a nutrient management planning training for NRCS employees. Forty-six NRCS personnel attended the two trainings offered in eastern (n = 22) and western Oregon (n = 22). The main purpose of the Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning trainings was to educate NRCS employees on how to perform the NRCS nutrient management planning process, which includes completing many NRCS worksheets. This aspect of the workshop might have influenced what the participants expected to gain from their experience (how to accurately complete worksheets). The written responses about the participatory activities were positive regarding working in small groups but results regarding if “the activity was fun” or if “the take home materials appear to be supportive of the work you do” were not significant. From the written responses to the question “What made the participatory activity useful to you?” it was clear that is was very important to the participants that they were trained to complete the required NRCS worksheets for nutrient management planning.
At the Salem training, the largest gain in knowledge was related to how to use soil nitrate testing as a management tool, with a 2.8-point increase on a 10-point scale. The next largest gain was on using the phosphorus index as an alternative management tool with a 2.6-point increase. For Pendleton the largest gain in knowledge was for understanding of water quality concerns associated with nutrient management with a 4.8 point gain. The next biggest increase in knowledge at the Pendleton training was for increased understanding on how NRCS nutrient management plans are developed, with a 4.3-point gain.
Managing Organic Nutrient Sources as Part of a Nutrient Management Plan
One point that made the Prosser (n = 11)workshop stand out was the high score for how fun the small group activities were for the participants. When this is compared to the written responses about “What made the participatory activities useful?” the theme that emerged was that time was allowed for group discussion after the small group activity. This may indicate the high value participants place on this concluding part of the participatory process. On average the 11 participants gained an average of 2.5 points on a 10-point scale for increased knowledge of the role of whole farm management in nutrient management planning.
Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop and Forum
The focus of the Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop and Forum (n = 41) was on fall soil nitrate testing on farms that apply manure or other organic nutrient sources. This workshop had the largest and the most diverse audience of the workshops with nearly 100 participants. This two-day workshop had information delivery on day one and an open discussion of research needs for development of nutrient management tools on the second day (results not presented). There were significant gains in knowledge by the participants on the uses and limitations of the fall soil nitrate testing tool, with a gain of 2.60 points on a 10-point scale.
Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Trainings
The two Idaho nutrient management workshops we in held in Caldwell (n = 16) and Twin Falls (n = 14). These trainings were designed to assist NRCS planners in completing nutrient management plans. At both trainings there was a higher level of knowledge about the general process of how a fertilizer guide is developed (+2.5 points in Caldwell and +2.8 in Twin Falls). In Caldwell there was a 2.4-point gain for knowledge on the differences between compost and manure as sources of plant available nitrogen.
Year 2 At-event Evaluation
A retrospective pretest was used for the at-event evaluation at the nine workshops in Year 2 (Table 2). As in Year 1, all surveys had five knowledge questions that were specific to the objectives of that training. Four of the events had a revised format that was specific to that training and the NRCS or producer audience (See Year 2 Sample Survey). In the revised format questions were asked to determine if participants’ learning objectives had been met, what parts of the workshop were valuable and what the participants intended to do as a result of attending the workshop. The purpose of these questions was to better understand the impact of the training in the participants’ ability to do their nutrient management related work.
Summary and Conclusions from At-Event Workshop Evaluation – Year 2
Managing Nitrate for Profit and Stewardship Workshops
In early 2002 the project produced a workshop on the topic of fall soil nitrate testing for agricultural professionals (n = 63). Data from the follow-up evaluation showed that some participants at this event felt it was important to train producers on the latest information regarding post-harvest soil nitrate testing. In 2003, Joe Harrison and Dan Sullivan lead the effort to produce three workshops in western Washington that were aimed at producers where the new Post-harvest soil nitrate testing for manured cropping systems west of the Cascades publication will likely be used. For the three workshops, 38 of the 63 participants were producers and the remaining 25 were consultants and NRCS/SWCD personnel (Tables 3-5). The agricultural professionals in attendance (n = 18) provided technical supported an average of 4,000 acres per person.
The evaluation results are averaged across the three workshops. The most common educational objective that participants had for attending was to learn how to better manage nutrients. Seventy-seven percent of the participants responded that their educational objective had been met. The largest gain in knowledge was related to the timing of sampling for post-harvest soil nitrate testing, with a 2.1-point increase on a 10-point scale. The second largest increase was increased understanding of the nitrogen cycle, with an average increase of 1.9 points.
When the participants were asked what they intend to do as a result of attending the workshop, the main theme was to keep better farm records. The workshops were valuable to the participants for numerous reasons, some of the popular themes included:
The use of interactive discussions and information exchange
Using real farm situations in examples
Ten people moved up from “good” to “very good” in how comfortable they felt after the workshop about communicating with regulators on the topic of nutrient management. The overall workshop satisfaction was 7.9 on a 10-point scale.
NRCS Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning Training
After being involved in the first Oregon NRCS Nutrient Management Considerations in Conservation Planning Training in 2002, Dan Sullivan, Don Horneck and Mary Staben proposed amending the training content for 2003. Oregon NRCS Conservation Agronomist, Tom Gohlke, was supportive of the changes and amended the nutrient planning exercise as well. The new course, held in central Oregon, curriculum focused more on the application on nutrient management knowledge to situations in the field. The attendance was lower in 2003 (n = 9) as many NRCS planners had taken the course the prior year.
The main objective of this training is to assist NRCS personnel in writing nutrient management plans that meet producer needs and protect the environment. The participants on average provide technical support for 1,200 acres per person. All participants felt the educational objective of writing nutrient management plans had been met. Five questions were asked to assess how much change in knowledge had occurred as a resulted of the training (Table 6). The largest increases in knowledge were on the use of the Phosphorus Index (+4.7 out of 10) and managing organic nutrients (+3.8 out of 10). There was an increase in participants’ confidence in communicating with regulators on the topic of nutrient management. One of the main aspects that made the training valuable to the participants was the use of hands-on examples that participants worked through in small groups. For overall satisfaction the participants rated the workshop 8.25 out of 10.
Western Idaho Nutrient Management Planner Trainings
In 2003 Brad Brown organized three nutrient management planning trainings in Idaho. The events were held in Pocatello (n = 26), Idaho Falls (n = 15) and Moscow (n = 7). The 2002 evaluation form was used at these events, the project evaluation form had been updated for 2003. Since the results from the knowledge questions were similar they are presented as averages across the three workshops. The largest gain was in the knowledge of how manure and compost differ as sources of plant available nitrogen with an increase of 3.5 points on a 10-point scale (Tables 7-9). The second largest gain was on the process of how a fertilizer guide is developed, participants documented a 2.8 point increase in knowledge.
Managing Organic Nutrient Sources as Part of a Nutrient Management Plan
Bob Stevens, WSU, and Don Horneck, OSU, organized and conducted two trainings on managing organic nutrient sources. The first was a small training in Yakima, WA (n = 17) and the second was done in conjunction with Far West Agribusiness Association annual conference in Spokane, WA (n = 68). The total attendance for the two events was 85 people. The workshop evaluation focused on documenting changes in participant knowledge (Tables 10-11). All five knowledge categories showed improvement but the two that had the largest gain were for the uses and limitations of nutrient management guides (+2.6 on a 10-point scale) and the level of variability involved in nutrient management (+2.5 on a 10-point scale).
Approximately six months after the workshops were completed we conducted follow-up evaluation. The purpose of this evaluation was to determine how durable the workshops were in terms of impacting how participants perform their nutrient management related work. The follow-up evaluation included phone interviews by the project coordinator of twenty-four randomly selected participants and a mail survey (see Follow-up Evaluation Participant Interview Form and Follow-Up By-Mail Survey). The remaining 142 participants with complete mailing addresses were sent a survey along with a letter and a stamped return envelope. Eighty-eight completed mail surveys were returned, resulting in a 62% response rate. The questions asked in the interviews followed the same design for content and structure as the mail survey. The main difference in the two methods was that the mail surveys offered a set of responses to choose from (there was always an option to write in a different response), whereas the interview participants needed to provide open-ended responses without being given suggestions. The reason for conducting both the interviews and mail survey was to gather more detailed information from the interviews to augment the mail survey data.
The third follow-up evaluation activity was interviewing project team members. Six core project team members and the State Conservation Agronomists for NRCS in Washington, Idaho and Oregon were interviewed via phone by the project coordinator. The purpose was to learn what aspects of the project were working and benefiting the team members and, ultimately, the target audience. Nine of the ten questions required open-ended responses; therefore theme analysis was performed by the project coordinator to group like responses into categories (see Follow-Up Evaluation: Team Member Interview Survey).
Participant Survey and Interview Results
The majority of the follow-up evaluation participants write nutrient management plans as a part of their work (Tables 12 and 13). Ninety-five percent of those surveyed work with landowners on the topic of nutrient management. Over half of the participants conduct nutrient management planning on over 1,500 acres each. The more detailed data from the phone interviews indicated that the average acreage that participants work with each year is over 20,000 per person, and therefore this group impacts almost 500,000 acres in the Pacific Northwest.
When participants were asked how they have used the knowledge gained at the workshops, the most common responses were advising producers, providing information to co-workers and writing nutrient management plans. Over three-quarters of those interviewed and the mail surveys respondents felt that as a result of attending the workshop that they were now “well prepared” or “somewhat well prepared” to communicate with regulators. Another encouraging result was that since the workshops the participants are communicating more on the topic of nutrient management and the largest increase was in communication with producers.
The most common response to the question “What aspects of the workshop made it valuable to you?” included increased nutrient management knowledge and skills, new information and research, and networking with other professionals. When the participants were asked what made the workshop valuable the interviews provided additional information. Seven of the 24 interviewees felt the hands-on exercises and examples made the workshops valuable. All participants were asked for their overall satisfaction (1 = not satisfied; 10 = very satisfied) with the workshop now that they had over six months to use the information provided in their work. The average response for both the mail survey and interview groups was 7.2 out of 10. The two methods, participant interviews and mail surveys, validated each other since the data were congruent when combined. The data were often similar from both the interviews and mail survey, thus establishing the reliability of the questions used.
The phone interviews and mail surveys reflected positive participant response to the content and interactive format of the WINME workshops. The following statements are examples from the participants who were interviewed:
The most valuable aspects of the workshop were the hands-on activities using NRCS forms and the examples with calculations.
I have used the information provided to better analyze and review soil sample data and make better interpretations.
One of the most valuable aspects of the workshop was the specific data that was provided by universities and agencies, even though it was not all the same or in agreement.
The most valuable aspect of the workshop was that agencies got together and got on the same page. There will be no more guessing on the interpretation of nitrate management.
The information presented at the workshop has helped me to be able to give a better detailed inventory of data collected in the field. It has allowed me to gather the right data and look inclusively at all of the components of nutrient management plans for nitrogen and phosphorus.
The workshop was a useful format to get regulators and the regulated talking. It was healthy and a step in the right direction.
Project Team Survey
When asked what had been accomplished by the project the most common theme was the benefits of NRCS and Extension working together more closely. Two other themes included the benefit of increased collaboration at the regional level and communication and that a better products were created as a result of the project. Six of the nine team members interviewed had been contacted by workshop attendees who wanted more information on nutrient management. These six individuals were contacted by at least 55 people, meaning that 1 in 4 attendees contacted one or more of the project team members. Overall, the average response to the question “Has the project had a positive impact on the nutrient management planning abilities of the target audience?” on a scale from 0 (not confident) and 10 (very confident) was 8.25. One of the State Conservation Agronomists with NRCS reported that each attendee of his workshop was required to submit a nutrient management plan after the training and that he reviewed each of the plans. He felt that 50-60% of the attendees showed a significant increase in their skills and abilities to help a producer develop a nutrient management plan.
When project team members were asked what unanticipated outcomes have resulted from the project, the two main themes were improved working relationships with NRCS and the benefits of having a project coordinator. When asked if their educational approach has changed as a result of involvement in the project, four of the six project team members felt that they had changed because the project emphasized the use of hands-on and problem-solving activities at workshops. For some workshop organizers this was the first time they had used a participatory educational approach at a workshop. The at-event evaluation showed that these interactive sessions were very valuable to the participants. Since participatory activities take significantly more time than a lecture format, the positive feedback was encouraging for the workshop organizers.
For the project team members there has been a shift in how educational events are designed and implemented. The standard approach in this project includes the use of interactive and problem-solving activities. This approach will be refined and feedback from the participants will be incorporated to improve the 2003 workshop series. The project team members are supportive of each other’s activities. One helpful development has been the use of the project website to post PowerPoint files of previous workshop presentations. Team members can then use the existing files to create new presentations and therefore promoting consistent education across the region.
The Post-harvest Soil Nitrate Testing for Manured Cropping Systems West of the Cascades was available in May 2003 at the OSU Extension and Experiment Station Communications website (see Publications above). In June 2003, sixty-seven participants of the 2002 Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop were sent a copy of the new Post-harvest Soil Nitrate Testing for Manured Cropping Systems West of the Cascades publication and an evaluation form. The purpose of this evaluation was to determine if the potential users found the publication useful, what ideas they planned to implement and what barriers they perceived in implementing concepts from the publication. This information will enable team members to address the reviewers concerns through future educational events. Twenty-four completed evaluations were returned, resulting in a 34 percent response rate.
Of the 24 participants, the majority was from SWCD (n = 10) and NRCS (n = 5) (Table 14). All respondents would recommend this publication to others and provided them with useful information. When asked whom they felt the publication would useful for all 24 said an agricultural professional audience and 22 said producers would find it useful. Twenty respondents felt the publication would assist them in communicating with on this topic with others outside their professional group.
Eighteen people intend to implement ideas offered in the publication. The main themes were soil sampling (12 responses), data interpretation (i.e. using tables 3 and 4, 8 responses) and using or promote the post-harvest soil nitrate test as a nutrient management tool (7 responses). When asked what the main barriers faced in implementing concepts from the publication, 12 responses reflected the lack of producer interest and regulations or requirements for producers to do this type of sampling.
This publication was designed to offer a more complete approach to post-harvest soil nitrate testing than the two-page NRCS Tech Note 35 Guide to “Report Card” Soil Testing. Eighteen of the respondents had read or used Tech Note 35. Seventeen of the 19 responses expressed a preference for an Extension publication approach over an NRCS Tech Note.
Resource notebooks are developed by workshop organizers to meet the specific needs at each training. Examples of workshop notebooks include:
Nutrient and Pest Management Considerations in Conservation Planning (Module 7) notebook contained the NRCS standards for nutrient management planning and resources on each topic area and the supporting materials for the participatory exercises. In 2002 the presenters adapted the national format to include examples and resources that relate to the types of farming systems the participants work with in eastern and western Oregon. Further changes were made to the program and notebook in 2003 to reflect the specific needs of Oregon NRCS nutrient management planners. Subject matter areas included soil sampling and testing, nitrogen cycling and management, manure management, phosphorus index, and developing crop nutrient recommendations.
Managing Organic Nutrients as a Part of a Nutrient Management Plan Workshop. This notebook contained the PowerPoint slides from each talk, university nutrient management guides related to the participatory exercises and an NRCS publication, Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans.
Fall Soil Nitrate Workshop notebook included the proceedings of the workshop and supporting technical publications related to managing nutrients and manure.
The WINME Project website can be viewed at http://cropandsoil.oregonstate.edu/nm. This site is designed for nutrient management planners and other agricultural professionals in the Pacific Northwest. The educational events and resources provided emphasize nutrient management issues and tools for Idaho, Washington and Oregon. The website has been continuously expanded and updated as new resources and information became available. One major expansion was the addition of web pages for the Western Coordinating Committee for Nutrient Management and Water Quality (WCC-103). The four major content areas of the project website include:
News and Events lists nutrient management related workshops and educational events in the Pacific Northwest
Resources contains links to nutrient management related publications, software and tools, Pacific Northwest soil maps and data, related websites and groups involved in nutrient management
Policy provides access to current information on CAFO/AFO rules, phosphorus and water quality policy
Program Evaluation has links to university resources to assist in the design of educational programs and evaluation
The Post-harvest soil nitrate testing in manured cropping systems west of the Cascades publication was accessed 484 times from the OSU Extension and Experiment Communications website from its posting in May 2003 through September 2003. The publication ranked in the top 25% of all OSU Extension publications for the number of hits received.
Even though the project team had decided not to produce newsletters early in the project, we decided to send electronic newsletters in 2003. Three email newsletters were sent out to the attendees of project-sponsored 2002 workshops. The newsletters announced new resources or information relevant to those who conduct nutrient management related work. In 2003 the newsletters were sent out in January and June. In January 2004 we plan to use the Far West Agribusiness Association newsletter to promote the new educational project funded by the National Integrated Water Quality Program.
Attachments for the WINME Project final report:
Post-harvest Soil Nitrate Testing in Manured Cropping Systems publication
Monitoring Soil Nutrients Using a Management Unit Approach publication
Agricultural Phosphorus Management Using the Oregon/Washington Phosphorus Indexes publication
Workshop Evaluation Surveys (Year 1 and Year 2 versions)
At-event Evaluation Results (Tables 3-11)
Follow-up Mail Survey
Follow-up Interview Survey
Project Team Interview Survey
Follow-up Evaluation Results (Tables 12-13)
Publication Evaluation Survey
Publication Evaluation Results (Table 14)
Appendix 1 (Year 1 At-Event Workshop Evaluation Document and Table 15)
After conducting a two-stage evaluation process it became clear that many new connections had been made or existing connections had been strengthened as a result of the project (Figure 1). Figure 1 shows a systems perspective of how the WINME Project has had an affect on the various parties involved in nutrient management education in the Pacific Northwest. The positive impacts of the project are well documented at the individual, state and regional levels.
The evaluation results demonstrate that the workshops were an effective format for developing knowledge and skills related to nutrient management planning. The follow-up survey data indicate that participants are using the knowledge they gained in their work and that they are better able to communicate with regulators on the topic of nutrient management. The project outcomes will enable agricultural professionals in the Pacific Northwest to better assist producers in implementing more effective nutrient management practices.
The project team surveys show that the project has produced benefits to team members and state-level NRCS personnel responsible for nutrient management education. In addition, workshop organizers are more aware of the need for participatory and interactive learning activities, and these types of activities will be incorporated into the 2003 project workshops. The results of the changes at the project team level are that there were more and higher quality educational events and resources available to agricultural professionals across the region.
The strengthened relationships and knowledge gained by the project team members and collaborators (particularly NRCS) will be applied to the new Extension education grant funded by National Integrated Water Quality Program. This two-year project will focus on water resource protection through integrated nutrient and pest management planning education for agricultural professionals, with an emphasis on Technical Service Providers, in the Pacific Northwest.
One output from the project was a well-designed program evaluation process. We created a format that is easily used a different workshops with only minor changes. The evaluation information we gathered allowed project team members to understand how their training was being received and what changes might improve how they deliver information to participants.
We developed a stronger partnership with NRCS in each of the three states. Because we more clearly understood the NRCS planning process this allowed us to design trainings to more precisely meet the educational needs of this audience. These strengthened connections and increased knowledge was a factor in securing the National Integrated Water Quality Program grant to support further educational programming for agricultural professionals in the Pacific Northwest.
During follow-up interviews with 24 attendees of the first year of workshops we asked how many acres and producers they worked last year. The results showed this subset of attendees works with over 480,000 acres each year and as group they work with nearly one thousand producers. The program evaluation showed that attendees are using the information gained at the trainings in their work. They are also better able to communicate with others on the subject of nutrient management. With total attendance for the 17 project-sponsored workshops of over 400, we trained a large group of people that can have a significant impact on how well nutrients are managed.
One of the things we learned from this project is the importance of involving key players early in the process. In this case state-level NRCS personnel were important collaborators in the development of a training program that addresses both agency and agricultural professional educational needs. With the emergence of Technical Service Providers (TSPs) our relationship with NRCS in each state are even more important. We feel it is important to provide equivalent training to NRCS personnel and TSPs. Though our closer relationship with NRCS, we have also found that there are opportunities for Extension to partner with NRCS to meet needs for education and research.