Through a series of educational webinars and other outreach materials, this project proposed by
the Organic Research Foundation (OFRF) will enhance the knowledge of agricultural advisors,
Cooperative Extension, NRCS, agency, crop consultants, and other agricultural professionals
who work with farmers and ranchers on the benefits of organic agriculture and sustainable soil
management practices. These benefits include healthier soils, cleaner water, fewer pests, fewer
pollutants for farmworkers and consumers, and an increased biodiversity in our agricultural
In 2015, OFRF surveyed organic farmers and found a need for knowledgeable extension and
education services related to organic soil health, biology, and nutrient cycling. In 2017, OFRF
published a series of guides on soil health and organic farming for organic and transitional
farmers. In this proposed project, the information from the soil health guides will be presented to
agricultural professionals via eOrganic webinars, to use as educational tools for increasing
sustainable soil health practices.
This dissemination project will increase the adoption and application of best practices for soil
health in practical and accessible formats online, so that agricultural professionals will be able to
learn about, implement, share or teach these practices, and/or use these resources in the
subsequent educational activities in sustainable agriculture. Success will be based on the number
of participants, participant evaluations, and the percentage of participants who say they will
incorporate the practices into their work and recommend to farmers. These activities will
improve the ability of agricultural professionals to conduct educational programs and activities in
sustainable agriculture principles, and provide access to resources that help producers make
informed decisions about sustainable approaches with greater certainty and less risk.
The objectives are to 1) provide this soil health information in practical and accessible formats
online, so that agricultural professionals will be able to learn about, implement, share or teach
these practices, and/ or use these new knowledge and skills in the subsequent educational
activities in sustainable agriculture, 2) increase understanding of the impacts of organic practices
on soil biology and biodiversity, soil-crop nutrient dynamics, soil organic matter, carbon
sequestration, soil water dynamics, 3) increase the understanding of the research needs of
organic farmers across the U.S. 4) increase use of the scientific research resources available via
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To educate mentor farmers and service providers principles of nutrient management through soil health education specific to the Western Region.
This webinar, conducted on Oct 24th, 2018, explored the role of the soil food web in nutrient cycling and provisioning, and practical strategies for optimizing the availability of limiting nutrients, such as nitrogen, for soil health, organic crop production, and water quality. It summarizes recent research on nitrogen management for organic vegetable and strawberry production in maritime, Mediterranean, and semiarid climates.
123 attended the webinar
423 views of archived webinar on Youtube.
When asked if the webinar improved knowledge on the topic 22% said significantly improved, 48% said moderately improved, 25% said a little improved.
71% of attendees said they planned to apply the knowledge gained in the webinar in their work.
“I really got a lot out of it and can’t wait for it to be posted so I can recommend my students make a point of watching it. Refreshingly non-nerdy without being dumbed-down. Nice to hear of all the farms trying different things and their results, that is very helpful and provided a lot of good ideas for me to pass along.
Kate Ryan, Agriculture Program Coordinator, WSU Snohomish County Extension
To educate agriculture service providers and mentor farmers about how integrated organic weed management strategies help desired vegetation outcompete weeds, build soil health, and reduce the need for soil disturbance in the western region.
In this webinar was conducted on Nov 21, 2018. It focuses on integrated organic weed management strategies that help desired vegetation outcompete weeds, build soil health, and reduce the need for soil disturbance. In addition, it summarizes outcomes of recent research into organic management of field bindweed and other major weeds of Western Region cropland and rangeland.
95 attendees on webinar
208 Views of archived webinar on youtube
When asked if the webinar improved knowledge on the topic 20% said significantly improved, 60% said moderately improved, 20% said a little improved.
75% of attendees said they planned to apply the knowledge gained in the webinar in their work.
To educate agricultural service providers, crop advisors, and mentor farmers on Practical Conservation Tillage practices for Western Region Organic Cropping Systems.
Co-presenter: Dawn Thilmany, Colorado State University.
This webinar, originally hosted January 23, 2019, discusses practical approaches to reducing the adverse impacts of tillage and cultivation on soil life and soil health. It also covers recent research into newer tillage tools and minimum-till strategies for Western Region organic vegetable, fruit, and field crop production.
Dawn Thilmany is a Professor of Ag Economics with Colorado State University and specializes in economic development related to local, organic and other value-added food market segments. She is co-Director for CSU’s Regional Economic Development Institute, is on the leadership team for the CSU Food Systems program and has chaired the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council and served on several assignments with the USDA.
427 people registered for webinar and 107 attended
154 Views of archived webinar on youtube
When asked if the webinar improved knowledge on the topic 42% said significantly improved, 35% said moderately improved, 23% said a little improved.
73% of attendees said they planned to apply the knowledge gained in the webinar in their work.
93% of attendees said they would recommend this webinar to others.
I work at a desk all day with phone and email interaction with my farmers. I really enjoyed this webinar for understanding how to improve soil health…I
really have a little knowledge in this, even with a biology degree ads it is such a specific topic…and this webinar was very useful to the farmer…not just
the science of it, but also the practical application of what tools to use. Absolutely LOVED it! –webinar participant
To educate professional agriculture service providers, crop advisors, and mentor farmers on best practices for selecting and managing cover crops for organic crop rotations.
This webinar was ran on February 27, 2019 and was co-presented by Eric Brennan, USDA ARS, Salinas, CA.
This webinar discusses best cover crops, mixes, and management methods for optimum soil health and organic cash crop production in the Western Region. It explores in greater depth the special challenges that farmers face in adding cover crops to dryland cereal grain rotations and other moisture-limited cropping systems.
Eric is a research horticulturist and lead scientist in organic production at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Salinas, CA where he has worked since 2001. Eric’s research focuses on vegetable and strawberry production with emphasis on cover crops, weed and soil fertility management, and biological control of insect pests. Eric is passionate about long-term research and effective communication of practical research results to farmers and others.
538 people registered for the webinar and 114 attended.
129 Views of archived webinar on youtube.
When asked if the webinar improved knowledge on the topic 36% said significantly improved, 44% said moderately improved, 20% said a little improved.
92% of attendees said they planned to apply the knowledge gained in the webinar in their work.
96% of attendees said they would recommend this webinar to others.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Following every webinar closely. Learning much. –webinar participant