Sustainable Organic No-Till Systems: A Training Program for CES and NRCS Field Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $104,623.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
Ronald Morse
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: potatoes
  • Vegetables: broccoli, cucurbits


  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, no-till
  • Education and Training: workshop
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil analysis


    Conservation agriculture (CA) seeks to mimic nature using permanent plant cover, reduced tillage and crop rotation practices. Combining organic and CA strategies can result in increased sustainability and synergistic production capabilities. This PDP trained forty CES and NRCS professionals to better understand and implement best organic-CA management practices for producing vegetables and agronomic crops. These training activities focused mainly on instruction and demonstration of controlled-traffic techniques and production, management and appropriate uses of high-biomass grass-legume cover crops to build soil health, suppress weed growth, and facilitate crop establishment and sustainable production systems.

    Project objectives:

    This project sought to inform and train Cooperative Extension Service (CES) and National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field agents in 1) cover crop-based organic conservation agriculture (CA) production systems, and 2) beneficial habitat plantings (farmscapes) for biological insect pest management for vegetables and agronomic crops. The training utilized and complimented the project director’s on-going research and outreach program in organic-CA vegetable production and farmscaping. SARE-PDP funds were used to develop broad-scale demonstration and teaching plots at Virginia Tech and similar satellite plots at North Carolina A&T State University and two organic farms in Virginia. Training-the-trainees sessions for CES and NRCS professionals took place at each site during 2006 (phase I), and trainees trained farmers in these techniques in 2007/2008 (phase II), with support and guidance from project staff. A training manual on cover crop-based organic-CA systems and farmscaping was written and utilized in the phase I sessions and updated based on user feedback.

    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.