Workshops on Soil Quality Assessment and Application for Field Staff

Final Report for EW02-011

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $27,590.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Federal Funds: $34,702.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $28,745.07
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Paula Jones
USDA-NRCS, Three Rivers RC&D Council, Inc.
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Project Information

Project Objectives:

Provide a training opportunity for NRCS and Cooperative Extension field personnel on soil quality. Participants will be able to recognize soil quality concerns, communicate those concerns to land managers and users and provide alternatives to remedy those concerns in a manner that is sustainable to the land manager and user while meeting all requirements of the agencies.

Provide participants with the ability to 1).define soil quality, 2)explain the difference between inherent and management induced soil quality, recognize and use soil quality indicators and relate the importance of organic matter to soil quality, 3)describe documentation and measurement techniques, 4)make an assessment and an appropriate level of interpretation of soil quality measurements and observations,
5)prescribe practices that enhance soil quality on all land uses, identify tillage implements and their effects on soil quality and
6)discuss soil quality outreach with our customers and make soil quality information available to education and professional organizations.

Establish the basis for involvement in soil quality concerns with land manger/user by providing training to them on farm.

Education & Outreach Initiatives


To reach the intended audience (NRCS and Extension in Idaho, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana) email notices were sent to each agency at least twice for each workshop.

Brochures for each workshop were also mailed to each agencies state or regional office.

Outcomes and impacts:
  1. 1. Increase their understanding of and knowledge about soil quality and how management practices affect soil quality.
    As a result of the pre and post tests it is apparent that the majority of the participants left with a better understanding of soil quality. Caldwell (pre-12.3 missed questions, post-6.0 missed questions), Twin Falls (pre-5.4 missed questions, post-1.6 missed questions), Moscow (pre-9.7 missed questions, post-2.6 missed questions), Idaho Falls (pre -9.3 missed questions, post-2.7 missed questions).

    2. Have access to the necessary tools and the ability to measure and document aspects of soil quality.
    24 soil quality test kits have been distributed across Idaho in strategically place NRCS and Extension offices.

    3. Engage and involve producers, land managers and other ag professionals in the process of determining the connections between their land management decisions and the maintenance of a quality soil resource.
    Participants at each workshop came from many ag professions and agencies. These participants assisted the landowner in management decision for the fields they tested during the workshop.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
  1. 1. Four workshops completed a. Caldwell, Idaho (April 8-10, 2003) b. Twin Falls, Idaho (September 9-11, 2003) c. Moscow, Idaho (May 4-6,2004) d. Idaho Falls, Idaho (June 29-July 1, 2004) 2. 106 participants from NRCS, Extension, IASCD, Idaho Dept. of Agriculture, Washington State Dept. of Agriculture, University of Idaho, and University of Wyoming. 3. Purchase of 24 soil quality test kits for distribution to field personnel

Future Recommendations

Although the workshops were well received, the follow-up field days were not successful. When asked why workshop participants did not attend, they indicated that the 1).extra travel for one day was not viable, 2). the extra time for the follow-up was hard to find.

A possible solution would be to delegate one person (trainer)per region as a contact person for any additional fieldwork or OJT. These situations would be again hands-on and in the field as well as real-world situations. This might be more pressure on the trainers but it would be more effective for the workshop participants.

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.