Sustainable Agronomy

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $68,970.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: American Society of Agronomy
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Luther Smith
American Society of Agronomy


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: application rate management, conservation tillage, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, no-till, nutrient management, water management
  • Education and Training: decision support system, focus group
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health


    The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) (Societies) and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program will be collaborating with other agricultural groups to offer educational programs at a one and a half day conference titled Sustainable Agronomy.  We are anticipating 150 to 200 attendees consisting of Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs), professional agronomists, soil scientists, crop scientists, agriculture retail lead personnel, extension educators, environmental consultants, university researchers/professors and farmers. The sessions will be livestreamed to a virtual audience throughout North America.  We anticipate from 500 to 1,000 down loads either live or later via the recorded version. Our primary outcome will be to increase the adoption rate of sustainable agronomy practices among farmers in the North Central Region of the US by addressing the question through educational sessions: I think I understand sustainability but what exactly can I do now and recommend to my farmer clients that will help them make their operations more sustainable?

    Results:  The 1.5 day long conference was held on June 26 and 27, 2018 in Madison, WI.  Conference program is part of supporting materials.  We planned for 150 paid registrations and 190 total attendees including complimentary registrations for speakers, moderators, sponsors and staff.  We had 224 paid registrations with total attendees of 279.  Based on pre-conference survey data, full report in the supporting materials, our largest segment of attendees was CCAs at 21% followed by university agronomists at 14%. Live streaming of the conference was utilized but our attendance through for this was not as large as anticipate.  No session crossed over 10 attendees and we totaled 38 live, live streaming attendees over 7 sessions.  The sessions were recorded and will be hosted in the ASA online, education library for 3 years post conference.  A post conference survey of attendees with 41% completing it, revealed 74% rating the conference experience as satisfied or very satisfied.  43% stated that their knowledge on sustainable agronomy was ranked high or very high while on the post-conference survey this number increases to 63%.

    The sessions will address current needs but also identify gaps that could lead to future educational programs and/or research in sustainable agriculture practices.  The four CCA competency areas – nutrient management; soil and water management; IPM; Crop Management – will set the broad topical areas. An advisory team of sustainability experts will be organized to help identify the specific topics and speakers.

    Results:  The sessions were designed to be interactive with shorter presentations followed by panel discussions with audience participation.  The four CCA competency areas were used as the general topical area outline.  An advisory team of 14 professionals based in the north central region and representing industry and academia helped to identify specific topics and speakers.  The idea was to address current needs and provide practical information that could be used by CCAs with their clients.

    Project objectives:

    Attendees and those viewing the live or recorded versions will increase their knowledge in sustainable agronomy practices. They will also increase their commitment to helping their clients adopt sustainable agronomy practices on their farms.  All meeting attendees will receive an electronic pre-meeting and post-meeting survey to measure their sustainable agriculture knowledge. Six to nine months post meeting event, a second survey will be sent to all meeting attendees to measure implementation of sustainable agronomy practices. Field to Markets’ Field Print Calculator will be utilized by at least 50 CCAs to measure and report progress at the farm level.

    Results:  Pre and Post conference surveys were administered.  The pre-conference survey was completed by 54% of the attendees while 44% completed the post-conference survey.  In the 5 topical categories of economics, agronomy science, environmental impact, implementation and grower interest respondents ranking their knowledge in the high or very high levels increased by more than 10 points in all categories from pre to post conference.  78% indicated that they are likely or very likely to use the conference educational information while 89% indicated they will share or help implement the knowledge gained.  At the writing of this report, it was only one month post conference so the 6 to 9 month survey had not been conducted.


    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.