Soil Health Bootcamp and Applications to Sustainable Vegetable Cropping: Professional Development for Local Agriculture Educators

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $64,307.00
Projected End Date: 05/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Megan Kennelly
Kansas State University

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beans, carrots, cucurbits, eggplant, tomatoes


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Pest Management: biological control, botanical pesticides, chemical control, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, physical control, sanitation, traps, weather monitoring
  • Soil Management: green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, soil microbiology, soil physics, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    The overall goal of this project is to develop, deliver, and evaluate a comprehensive training program about soil health with specific applications to sustainable vegetable cropping. The primary audience is local Kansas State University Extension educators, with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Kansas Association of Conservation Districts (KACD) personnel as secondary target audiences. KSU educators have identified a strong need for this training. The short term outcomes include equipping local educators with knowledge and skills related to soil health and sustainable vegetable cropping. Medium term outcomes include local educators delivering programming and partnering with local stakeholders to implement practices which enhance soil health and sustainable vegetable production. Long term outcomes include reduced soil erosion, improved crop health, improved awareness of sustainable agriculture, and increased profitability. The activities include a series of introductory webinars, hands-on day-long workshops, and an online learning community for advanced topics. The webinars will provide critical foundational information and eliminate the need for classroom time at the workshops. The workshops will be held during production season at various sites throughout the state in order to maximize participation, allow real-time hands-on practice, and focus on local conditions. The online learning community will involve a set of readings, short pre-question writing assignments, and facilitated discussion. The activities will engage different learning styles. The interdisciplinary project team will provide an integrated approach to address soil health and vegetable production as a holistic system. Components of the project will be evaluated as well as the program as a whole.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Broad learning objectives of our targeted audience include: i) Develop an understanding of the structure, function, and biological complexity of soil; ii) Learn and practice skills to measure and assess soil quality; iii) Build a toolbox of various methods including cover crops to improve soil health; iv) Understand the concepts of ecological pest management; v) Practice whole-farm system planning; and vi) Understand sustainable vegetable production. An integrated and hands-on approach will be utilized, including traditional and active pedagogy in addition to building a peer-network to solve problems and realize the potential of sustainable soil management systems.

    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.