Soil Matters in Illinois

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $80,462.75
Projected End Date: 09/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Illinois Extension
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Travis Burke
Illinois Extension


  • Agronomic: corn, soybeans


  • Crop Production: cover crops
  • Education and Training: extension
  • Natural Resources/Environment: carbon sequestration
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    While the term "regenerative agriculture" was coined in the 1980s, in the past two years it has been described in the press as a "hot trend" in agriculture because of its potential role in mitigating climate change. There is not an agreed upon definition of what it means to be "regenerative;" instead regenerative agriculture is often defined by its outcomes or practices. However, there is not a single solution that can be recommended for all farmers, and an increased investment in technology and research is quickly creating many more possibilities. The role of Extension is to translate research into practice, and in order to do this with regenerative agriculture, Illinois Extension educators need to be trained in the principles of regenerative agriculture, including greenhouse gases, carbon sequestration, the soil microbiome, soil nutrients and fertilizers, and water management. 

    A group of five to eight Extension educators and faculty researchers, with the assistance of a student, will develop this training. Digital assets (e.g., videos, virtual training tools, activities, quizzes, etc.) will be integrated into online course modules and made available through the Learn @ Illinois Extension platform (powered by Moodle). These learner-centric modules will explore the tenets of regenerative agriculture, as well as applied research, particularly research related to practices that are believed to improve soil health, including soil in home gardens and commercial farms. Modules will be evaluated and improved based on feedback from educators, who can then integrate them into their in-person or online outreach.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Five Learn @ Illinois Extension training modules exploring regenerative agriculture in general and specifically on soil health will be developed.  Topics explored will include greenhouse gases, carbon sequestration, the soil microbiome, soil nutrients and fertilizers, and water management. At least one will focus on how regenerative agriculture practices apply in urban settings.

    In addition to the project team, there are approximately 35 educators on the Commercial Ag, Small Farms/Local Foods, Horticulture, and Natural Resources, Environment, and Energy teams. The goal is for 75 percent (25) of these staff to view at least three training modules and complete pre- and post-module evaluations. 


    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.