- Crop Production: conservation tillage
- Education and Training: decision support system, demonstration, extension, mentoring, networking, workshop
- Farm Business Management: whole farm planning
- Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
- Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management, organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
- Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil chemistry, soil physics, soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures
Soil quality management is complex. It requires crop-specific planning and must be driven by the farmer’s goals and resources. Farmers and agricultural professionals are interested in soil quality education and desire a better understanding of assessment tools. We will implement these three components of a western region network to support on-the-ground soil quality improvement: (1) two workshops to train ag professionals; (2) a database for rating soil samples, generating farmer reports and documenting activities and efforts, and (3) a website to serve as a central hub for communication and resource distribution. This system will provide agricultural professionals and farmers with access to soil quality resources including: assessment tool information, models for various aspects of program development, soil quality related research, and lessons learned from programs that promote soil quality.
Project objectives from proposal:
Activities and Methods – With WSARE funding, we will execute the following four Soil Quality Network activities:
(1) Fund a 0.2 FTE Project Manager (PM) position. The PM will orchestrate the efforts of multiple participants, facilitate the workshops, attend tabling events, serve as the contact person for the regional soil quality movement and write Soil Quality Network reports.
(2) Develop a database to rate soil samples, document changes in soil management, track participation in federal, state and local soil quality incentive programs, monitor management impacts on soil quality, and support future demonstration projects and research.
(3) Create a basic website to make soil quality information globally available. This tool will be a central bulletin board for resources, models, research, and programs that support soil quality practices on the ground.
(4) Host two Western Region workshops for the agricultural professional audience. In 2012, we will introduce SQ assessment tools, such as the Soil Quality Project assessment package, the NRCS Soil Quality Test Kit, and Soil Quality Cards to build knowledge and skills that help farmers understand and recognize agricultural impacts on soil. During the sequel 2013 workshop, participants will explore the opportunities and barriers related to the implementation of SQ improvement practices and visit success story farms. These workshops will engage participants through presentations on successful soil quality projects and field tours. During both workshops, small work group sessions will help participants develop strategies to visualize and implement their local soil quality programs. Small groups will discuss partnership building, working with farmers, and the documentation of efforts and results (website training).