- Animal Production: parasite control, grazing management, manure management, pasture fertility, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, watering systems
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: extension, mentoring, workshop
- Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
- Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, budgets/cost and returns
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention, sanitation, weed ecology
- Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
- Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, composting, soil quality/health
In 2010, the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) in partnership with the Kansas NRCS State Office, Kansas State University, Kansas Organic Producers and several organic farmers, undertook organizing six training sessions on organic farming systems and certification for the Kansas NRCS staff and Kansas State University Extension. Like NRCS offices across the country, the Kansas NRCS State Office was responsible for implementing the Organic Initiative under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program under the 2008 Farm Bill. However, they had limited understanding or knowledge of organic farming. A secondary audience was Kansas State University Extension so they could provide outreach on organic farming and the certification process to their clientele to enhance farmer knowledge of organic farming systems and the USDA organic programs.
KRC proposed to develop/compile training materials, identify organic farmers as educators, and organize training sessions to be held in different agronomic regions of the state so that the sessions could be tailored to practices appropriate to the local area.
Anticipated Outcomes included:
* Increase in enrollment in the EQIP Organic Program due to NRCS staff more knowledgeable about organic farming;
* Increase in the number of Extension personnel able to answer organic transition questions,
* Increase in organic research projects at the land grant university as they learn more about organic farming needs,
* and a network of organic farmers willing to serve as educators, mentors and resources for each other and newly transitioning organic farmers.
In 2010 and 2011, KRC organized and conducted six organic trainings in six locations around the state reaching a total of 210 mostly NRCS personnel and a handful of County Extension Agents. The number of EQIP Organic contracts approved in Kansas was 16 (2009, first year of the program), 54 in 2010, and 49 in 2011. The need for a different approach to training for Extension personnel, a need for a more aggressive outreach campaign for the EQIP Organic Programs to increase enrollment now that trainings have been held, and a need for an organized organic farmer mentoring or support network were all identified for future work.
Below are the objectives as listed in the work plan. Accomplishments or updates for each of these are described below in the Outcomes and Impacts, and Accomplishments sections.
A. KRC will organize six workshops (3 per year). In year one (2010), three regional workshops will target NRCS staff reaching 90 participants. Workshop format will include classroom presentations, farmer panels, training materials, and a tour of an area organic farm. In Year two, 2011, three more workshops will be held focusing more on recruiting Extension personnel to attend.
B. Three organic farm tours will be held each year in conjunction with the training workshops.
C. KRC will develop and compile a training notebook, updating it on an ongoing basis during the two years of the project. The notebook will include information on organic farming basics, organic certification process, the organic system plan, crop rotation planning guide, and a list of miscellaneous resources.
D. KRC will develop and maintain a base network of organic farmers as teachers, mentors and resources who may become official technical service providers (TSPs) for NRCS, or serve as independent mentors and teachers.
E. KRC will provide presentations to Extension and other resource professionals on organic farming and the EQIP Organic Initiatives Program so they can promote the program and help farmers enroll.
F. KRC will update its crop rotation planning guide and collaborate with KSU to update and revise its Organic Certification Bulletin for distribution.