Training for Organic Farming and Ranching in the Great Plains

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Charles Francis
Grain Place Foundation
Shannon Moncure
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Animal Production: parasite control, free-range
  • Crop Production: crop rotation
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, new enterprise development
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: organic matter, composting, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Organic products are the most rapidly growing segment of the U.S. food system. As a result of this project, Extension and NRCS educators, high school vocational agriculture teachers, and public sector administrators in Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota will become more knowledgeable about organic farming and ranching practices and system design. From practical experience on organic farms, public sector people will be motivated to increase the role and visibility of farmers in educational program planning and implementation. Major outcomes include 50 people in each state with up-to-date information and specific plans to promote organic agriculture (short-term), a functional educational network and increased organic products (intermediate-term), and increased farm profitability, economic diversity and stability in the Great Plains (long-term). Training activities that make this project unique include pre-workshop preparation; sessions for Extension/NRCS, high school teachers, and administrators; farmers and ranchers as instructors; hands-on field activities; “coffee shop” discussions; interactions among educators, teachers, and administrators; follow-up comprehensive survey of outcomes and impacts; and documentation and publication of process and results. These will be accomplished through extensive planning, interaction with participants before workshops, one workshop in each state with 25 participants in each of two years (8 workshops), and comprehensive follow-through with promotion of networking after workshop completion to determine if outcomes have been achieved. Our prior network experience with the NC Region PDP in sustainable agriculture (1995-1998) has convinced us that this model can be effective, and several training innovations have been incorporated into the proposed program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • • Awareness- Educator group is up to date on latest organic practices • Knowledge- Educator community has ability to explain certification • Attitudes- Higher comfort level for educators in discussing alternative farming systems and markets • Skills- Organic fertility, plant protection, pasture systems, markets and certification process are well understood
    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.