Innovating Education of Agricultural Professionals on Organic Field Crop Production with a Flipped Classroom Approach

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $89,731.00
Projected End Date: 04/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Organic Trade Association
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Mallory Krieger
Organic Trade Association


  • Agronomic: barley, corn, hay, oats, peas (field, cowpeas), radish (oilseed, daikon, forage), rye, soybeans, vetches, wheat


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, conservation tillage, cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, organic fertilizers, postharvest treatment
  • Education and Training: technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, marketing management
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, drift/runoff buffers, grass waterways, soil stabilization
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, competition, cultivation, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, flame, prevention, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture, organic certification, transitioning to organic
  • Soil Management: green manures, nutrient mineralization, organic matter, soil analysis, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    The Organic Agronomy Training Service (OATS), a fiscally sponsored program with the Organic Trade Association, aims to improve farmer access to agricultural professionals trained in organic field crop production practices. Organic field crop production is full of opportunities for farmers but it can be challenging to successfully realize this potential due to the steep learning curve in transitioning from conventional to organic production practices. Farmers need more robust access to one-on-one support from agricultural professionals trained in science-based organic methods. This project will train agronomists, Certified Crop Consultants, ag. service employees, extension educators, NGO program staff, and NRCS employees in the science of organic field crop production so that they can meet the educational needs of transitional and certified organic farmers.

    This project will take an innovative approach to delivering this training. We will deliver training in three regions of the Midwest through a flipped classroom, hybrid online and in-person model. The course will consist of seven modules of highly engaging, high-production value video lessons that will be tailored with specific practice recommendations for each of the three regions. Participants will be organized into cohorts by region and will meet by video conference to analyze and discuss each of the seven modules and to interact and build connections with each other. The course will conclude with an in-person, on-farm session where participants will see working examples of content from the online portion of the course, hear from farmers who are successfully managing organic acres, and engage in group learning activities.

    Project objectives from proposal:





    Adapted video lessons

    Distance learning modules adapted to contain regionally relevant and specific content including crop rotations, cover crop recommendations, and weed management strategies

    Two modules

    Exercises for lessons

    Exercises for each of the seven modules are reviewed and adapted to contain regionally specific content


    Cohort participants

    Agricultural professionals participating in each of three regional cohorts, includes agronomists, Certified Crop Consultants, Extension educators, NRCS staff, ag. retail consultants, private consultants, NGO educators

    45 participants in each of the three cohorts, 135 participants in total

    Online directory

    Directory of agricultural professionals trained in organic production methods who meet qualification criteria and desire to be included

    30 past OATS participants;

    30 participants from 2021 programming;

    1000 unique page views in 12 months


    Total number of members of the OATS consortium and regional advisory committees

    40 consortium members

    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.