- Agronomic: general grain crops
- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer
- Pest Management: cultural control, smother crops
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
- Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
The purpose of this Professional Development Program was to train Extension and NRCS personnel, crop consultants, farmers, and members of other agencies and agricultural groups in the principles of soil quality/soil health from an ecological perspective. The program provided teaching materials and assessment tools, along with training in their effective use, so that future educational efforts in the participants’ communities will encourage and assist farmers to make the transition from conventional to alternative management systems. This “train the trainer” program featured three groups of in-service training workshops.
The first workshops were an overview that focused on soil biology and organic matter, soil ecology, nutrient cycling, and implications of these processes for soil management. The second workshops provided participants with skills, materials, and tools to conduct informative and effective workshops for farmers and other landowners. Teaching materials and soil assessment tools were developed for this program with the assistance and review of a farmer advisory committee. These assessment tools and copies of the educational materials were distributed to seven locations throughout the state for the use of anyone interested in promoting sound soil management practices. The third workshop, conducted once during the period of the grant, provided hands-on field experience and training in using the USDA Soil Quality Test Kit for a group of NRCS & Extension personnel, crop consultants, and farmers.
I. Train Extension and NRCS personnel, crop consultants, farmers, and members of other agencies and agricultural groups in the fundamentals of soil quality/health, soil biology, soil tilth, and organic matter & nutrient management.
II. Provide soil quality/health, soil biology, soil tilth, and organic matter/nutrient management teaching materials and assessment tools for use by the above individuals and organizations in educational programs they conduct for farmers and other groups.
III. Train Extension, NRCS, and other agency personnel to use soil quality/health assessment tools and learn effective methods of teaching the fundamentals of soil quality/health, soil biology, soil tilth, and organic matter/nutrient management to farmers and other groups.
IV. Develop partnerships between Extension, NRCS, farmers, and farm organizations that will foster the success of this project and support future cooperative programs in sustainable agriculture.