Training professionals on sustainable agriculture for enhanced ecosystem service from the ground up

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $65,900.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Khandakar Islam
The Ohio State University South Centers

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Agronomic: corn, oats, rye, spelt, sorghum (milo), soybeans, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay


  • Animal Production: manure management, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, display, extension, focus group, mentoring, study circle, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration, biodiversity, habitat enhancement, indicators, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, mulches - killed, mulches - living, cultivation, row covers (for pests), smother crops, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, composting, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Healthy and productive soil is the foundation of sustainable agriculture and enhanced ecosystem services. Understanding soil quality and the role of management practices to influence agroecosystems are critical to define sustainable agriculture. Current production agriculture, while producing greater amounts of food, feed, and fiber, has a negative impact on air, soil, and water quality because of reliance on tillage, chemical fertilizer, and imprecise chemical control of pests. Our objective is to conduct four 1.5-day multi-state train-the-trainer workshops on sustainable agriculture and ecosystems services for professionals from Extension, government agencies, Ag enterprises, crop consultant associations, farm organizations, and environmental groups. The venues will be in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and Minnesota. Project partners are from those states plus Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, and Michigan. Each workshop will have three sessions: (1) Socio-political issues of current agricultural practices; (2) Climate change and highly productive sustainable agriculture; and (3) Management practices that influence ecosystem services. Participants (40-50 at each workshop) will be provided teaching materials to conduct training sessions for local farmers. Best management practices appropriate for each region will be emphasized. Short-term outcomes will include knowledge and understanding of sustainable agriculture and ecosystems services by educators. Intermediate outcomes include enthusiastic engagement of professionals and the agriculture community in knowledge transfer. Long-term outcomes include greater adoption of sustainable practices. Surveys will be used throughout the 2-year project to assess the progress and outcomes. Results will be disseminated through website, farm press, journal articles, fact-sheets, and Extension bulletins. Cooperating partners are helping leverage these SARE funds.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-term outcomes
    1) Educators will become aware of economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially acceptable sustainable agricultural practices to improve soil and water quality, crop productivity, and farm sustainability for enhanced ecosystem services.

    2) Educators will acquire practical knowledge, learn new techniques, and develop skills to teach/assist local farmers.

    3) Educators will be motivated to teach sustainable agricultural practices for enhanced ecosystem services to clientele.

    Intermediate outcomes
    1) Educators will train/assist farmers on sustainable agriculture related to conservation tillage, cover crops and crop rotation, nutrient recycling and budgeting, controlled traffic, precision agriculture, and pest management, and soil and water quality improvement.

    2) Motivated educators will develop and implement programs to assist farmers, including workshops, WebEx programs, open-house, demonstration plots, and field days.

    3) Educators will assist farmers in shifting to sustainable agriculture by providing access to such things as convenient sources of cover crop seed, new precision application technology, carbon credit information, controlled traffic setups, and manure management.

    Long-term outcomes
    1) About 20 - 30% of farmers in the NC region will adopt sustainable agricultural practices in the next 10 - 15 years.

    2) Nutrient-use efficiency (home-grown N from planting legume cover crops) in conservation tillage will increase by 20%. As a result, fertilizer usage, especially N, will decrease by 10% per unit of production.

    3) Economics of Agricultural production with greater ecosystem services will be enhanced.

    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.