State Training Enhancement Project to Ensure Effective Sustainable Agriculture Training in Integrated Erosion Control Systems
Improve producer involvement in Sustainable Agriculture Training in Oklahoma consistent with the State Strategic Plan.
1.) Improve curriculum development related to erosion control in Oklahoma to strengthen the State Strategic Plan.
2.) Effectively train 120 professionals in Oklahoma in erosion control.
3.) Development new integrated curriculum that could be used effectively in other training events with emphasis on distance learning methods.
4.) Build institutional support form a wide filed of agencies and organizations for Sustainable Agriculture Training in Oklahoma.
Project was designed in two phases. The first phase concentrated on training of agency personnel, educators, and others. Since soil erosion control issues differ considerably from eastern Oklahoma to western Oklahoma, this training was divided into two thrusts. The thrust in the western portion of the state focused on wind and water related erosion. The training in the eastern portion of the state focused on water erosion.
The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service conducted two training programs on Erosion Management and Riparian Protection during the reporting period. Planning committees consisting of representatives from several agencies, university personnel, NGOs, and farmers were formed to develop the agendas. The extension leader of the Plant and Soil Science Department served as one committee leader and a member of the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture served as the other committee. The training encompassed the basic science and technology of wind and water erosion. The value and use of water control structures, vegetative plantings, crop residue management of riparian areas were also discussed. The training for the western part of the state occurred on September 22-23, 1998 at Weatherford, Oklahoma. The eastern session was held on October 1, 1998 at the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture.
The training targeted county Extension Educators, NRCS and FSA agency personnel, land managers/environmental educators with American Indian Tribes, State agency personnel, non-profit organizations, and others involved in conservation and environmental work. The training included individual presentations, panel discussions and work sessions. Demonstrations and a field trip helped to reinforce the classroom activities. A 3-ring binder was provided to each attendee as an office reference guide. Copies of presentations, handout material, published articles, fact sheets, etc., and other related written material were placed in the binder.
There were 66 individuals (not including the presenters) in attendance for the two days of training conducted on September 22-23, 1998. An evaluation of the training was conducted. Attendee’s were asked to rate various parts of the training and to estimate the value of the information in their job. Most felt that the training was worthwhile and would be valuable to them in their day-to-day operations.
Thirty-three individuals, in addition to the trainers, attended the workshop/tour conducted on October 1, 1998. An evaluation was conducted at the end of the training. Some key points learned, included BMP’s uses of trees and forestation in erosion control, and value and potential application of riparian areas.
As an outgrowth of the western training, several different conservation tillage meetings and tours have been organized and conducted by County Extension Educators (see below). NRCS personnel attending also assisted with some of the post-training meetings and tours.
A series of conservation tillage crop clinics were held in March, 1999 at Woods, Kay, and Noble counties. The Kay Co. meeting included a planting and tillage equipment display, and the Noble Co. meeting also had a planting demonstration where farmers could evaluate planting of various brands of equipment. The clinics covered various aspects of no-till crop production and the value of crop residues in reducing wind and water erosion. Presentations were made by state specialists, extension educators, and agriculture industry representatives. Approximately 180 producers were in attendance at the three meetings. In April, 2000 a similar clinic was attended by 75 producers from Grant Co.
In November, 1999 102 people attended a soil quality conference that was held in conjunction with SWCS. The objective of this event was to provide the attendee’s with a better understanding of how to measure and manage soil for soil quality. The speakers explained soil quality and identified ways of improving it. They talked about soil quality indicators and ways to quantitatively measure soil quality. Much of the conference was used to discuss how land use, cropping systems and erosion affect soil quality. A soil quality test kit and card were demonstrated.
In August, 2000 a moisture management/conservation day was held at Mangum, OK and was organized by the extension educators in Greer and Beckman Co’s. The event was attended by 75 people, including the trainers. This event covered discussions on crop residue, riparian management, soil erosion and compaction. In addition, a rainfall simulator was used to illustrate the value of residue for erosion control and water runoff. Based on telephone inquiries and on-site comments, it was determined that the day was very worthwhile and educational.
Extension Educators in the eastern portion of the state incorporated much of the October 1, 1998 training information into meetings and tours designed to provide continuing education units for poultry producers. By law Oklahoma poultry producers must acquire three hours of CEUs in poultry waste management education every year. The soil erosion and riparian area management portions of the sustainable agriculture professional training could be directly applied to meetings for poultry and poultry/beef producers - almost all of whom reside in eastern Oklahoma. Six separate meetings/tours were conducted in LeFlore, McCurtain, Delaware, Cherokee Counties and with the Cherokee and Choctaw Nations. These programs were conducted from July of 1999 to June of 2000.
The development of an erosion management video began in the Spring 2000. A decision was made to do a video on conservation tillage, not a “how to” but a video that highlighted producers who were actively practicing conservation tillage in different parts of the state. In addition, a fact sheet was developed on each of the producers’ programs. The producers worked with specialists and video crews so that their story was told.
Some 600 copies of the finished videotape and 3,000 copies of the fact sheets were produced. These are being disseminated through the county extension and natural resource conservation service offices. Southern Region Agriculture and Natural Resources Leaders will be offered the opportunity to get a video and set of fact sheets.
They will be used as educational tools to inform producers about conservation tillage, either by loaning or giving producers a copy to study. They will also be used as the “backbone” for future conservation tillage meetings. By highlighting local farmers in different areas of the state, producing crops using conservation tillage should accelerate the adoption of conservation tillage practices by other farmers.