Adapting Soil Health Curriculum to Ag Retailer Training

Project Overview

ENC18-167
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $74,875.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2020
Grant Recipient: CCSI (Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts)
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Lisa Holscher
Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans, wheat

Practices

  • Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, focus group, networking, technical assistance, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Farmers' agricultural practices and strategies are most strongly influenced by family, farm chemical dealers, seed dealers, and crop consultants, respectively. As such, these influencer groups will be critical to advance the adoption of soil health practices and systems on the vast majority of Indiana farmland.
    Building upon a proven soil health training program that was developed for conservation staff and ag professionals by the Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative (CCSI) and its partners, this project will adapt the curriculum to an influencer audience. The Indiana Agriculture Nutrient Alliance (IANA) and its members will be utilized to provide outreach and connectivity to influencers, and to recruit training attendance by those influencers.
    Outcomes will include an increased awareness and knowledge of soil health principles and practices by influencers; improved support of influencers to the adoption of soil health practices and systems; increased influencer abilities to work one-on-one with growers in their adoption of soil health practices and system; and the increased adoption of soil health practices by more conventional farming operations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    OUTCOMES
    RETAILER ROUNDTABLES (Awareness)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire a foundational awareness of soil health practices and systems and better understand why these systems are/will be important to their clients, including: Improved resiliency to extreme weather events; Better positioning for an increased consumer and corporate demand for sustainably source food, fiber, and fuel; Improved nutrient cycling and reduced nutrient losses (and reduced potential for regulation) Medium Term: Reduced resistance by attendees to their client's adoption of soil health practices.

    INTRO TO SOIL HEALTH (Awareness and Knowledge)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire a foundational understanding of the relationship between traditional soil science and soil health
    Medium Term: Through demonstration of the relationship between traditional soil science and newer information on soil health, resistance by attendees to their client's adoption of soil health practices will be reduced.

    CORE COVER CROPS (Awareness and Knowledge)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire a foundational understanding of cover crops
    Medium Term: Attendees resistance to adoption of cover crops will be reduced; Increased support of their clients' adoption of cover crops.

    CORE SOIL HEALTH SYSTEMS (Awareness and Knowledge)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire a foundational understanding cover crops
    Medium Term: Attendees resistance to adoption of soil health practices and systems will be reduced; Increased support of their clients' adoption of soil health practices and systems.

    ADVANCED COVER CROPS (Applied Knowledge and Skills)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire knowledge and develop skills related to the use of cover crops in Indiana agriculture.
    Medium Term: Attendees will seek additional information and skills related to the use of cover crops in Indiana agriculture.
    Long Term: Attendees will provide hands-on assistance for their clients' move towards "sustainability"; Attendees will assist their clients' in locating conservation program support; Increased adoption of cover crops.

    ADVANCED SOIL HEALTH SYSTEMS (Applied Knowledge and Skills)
    Short-Term: Attendees will acquire knowledge and develop skills related to the use of soil health practices and systems in Indiana agriculture.
    Medium Term: Attendees will seek additional information and skills related to soil health practices and systems in Indiana agriculture
    Long Term: Attendees will provide hands-on assistance for their clients' move towards "sustainability"; Attendees will assist their clients' in locating conservation program support; Increased adoption of soil health practices and systems.

    Overall benefits for the above outcomes will include improved resiliency of farmland in soil health systems to extreme weather events and improved profit stability for farms in soil health systems. Farms managed in a full soil health system will exhibit soils with increased organic matter, improved aggregate stability, increased water infiltration, increased water-holding capacity, improved nutrient use efficiency, and enhanced/diversified soil biology.

    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.