Building Sustainable Soil Systems
This past year the Southern SARE was recently funded a Professional Development Program (PDP) training opportunity for extension educators and other agricultural professionals across North Carolina. The project is entitled “Building Sustainable Soil Systems”. The planning team for this training consists of faculty from North Carolina A&T State University (A&T) and North Carolina State University (NCSU), and staff from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation (NCDSWC), and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture Agronomic Division.
The training was offered as a graduate level Soil Science class offered at both North Carolina A&T and North Carolina State Universities. Upon successful completion of the required post-training activities, participants who are enrolled in the class will receive three hours of graduate credit that will meet professional development requirements and/or contribute toward completion of graduate degree requirements. Participants who chose not to formally enroll in the class will be eligible for in-service training or continuing education credits.
The objectives of this project are: (1) Participants will learn the importance of soil quality and management practices to improve it. (2) Participants will learn about nutrient cycling, how to construct a nutrient budget for a crop, and how to synchronize nutrient mineralization from organic amendments and residues with crop nutrient requirements. (3) Participants will learn the advantages and disadvantages of conservation tillage and how to match conservation tillage strategies with particular crops, soils, and other regional conditions. (4) Participants will become familiar with the soil food web and soil microbial processes that affect plant growth. (5) Participants will become familiar with cover crops and cover cropping strategies. (6) Participants will learn how to create an integrated soil management plan for a diversified farming operation and will use that knowledge to develop plans with growers in their home counties
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
So far this year the PDP training team has only been able to meet two sessions due to weather up in Fletcher NC. There are 12 agents who are enrolled in our training course now in the western part of NC. So far we have covered Basics of Soil Management, Soil Physical Properties, Soil Management Groups, Soil Organic Matter, Nutrient Cycling, Nutrient Budgeting, NLEW, PLAT, Soil Quality, and Conservation Tillage/Residue Management. In our upcoming training sessions we plan to cover Soil Quality, Conservation Tillage/Residue Management, Crop Livestock Systems, Natural Resource Policy, Cover Crops and Creating Sustainable Soil Management. We have not had the opportunity to reach any accomplishments/milestones or impacts. The training will be repeated in the eastern part of NC in 2005 and the present training session evaluations will be used to restructure the sessions to make our training course better.