Sustainable Agriculture Curriculum Development Project for Extension Professionals in California's San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast Regions

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $98,773.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1999
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $98,393.00
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: extension, focus group
  • Natural Resources/Environment: soil stabilization
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health


    [Note to online version: The report for this project includes tables, figures, and attachments that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact Western SARE at (435) 797-2257 or]

    Interest in the concept of soil quality and health is increasing. There are numerous efforts around the country to develop soil quality indices and soil health assessment cards, and there is a renewed interest on the part of farmers and ranchers in such management practices as cover cropping, minimum tillage, mulching, and incorporation of organic matter. This interest in soil quality was confirmed by the two educational resource development teams (representing the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast regions) that set the direction for this project during its first year. Both teams identified soil quality and management as the top priority issue for their region and assisted in formulating educational goals for the project and identifying materials that should be included. The final product of this project is a package of educational materials titled Soil Quality Topics: A Selection of Resources for Education and Extension. Approximately 250 copies of the package were produced. It includes Internet resources, video and slide set lists, and print publications. Print materials are organized in four areas: Soil Quality Overview, Soil Quality Assessment Methods, Soil Biology, and Cropping Systems Management. Under each of these headings we have assembled articles and information sheets that can be photocopied for handouts, as well as resources for background and reference. The package was developed primarily for extension professionals as they educate and advise producers about practices that enhance soil quality. Through this guide we aim to: increase access to information, educational materials, and expertise related to soil quality; enhance the number and quality of educational opportunities available to producers on this topic; and raise the level of understanding among farmers and ranchers about the importance of soil quality, and provide information that helps them improve and refine their production systems. One copy of the package has been distributed free of charge to each county extension and NRCS offices in California, and also to all state sustainable ag leaders in the Western Region. Additional copies are available for purchase from the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (Price: $30).

    Project objectives:

    1. Coordinate, test, and document a participatory process for determining educational needs and objectives related to sustainable agriculture in the target area, and develop high quality curricula and educational packages for the identified needs.

    2. Produce two educational packages that can inform and be used by Cooperative Extension (CE) advisors and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) personnel to enhance extension and outreach programs related to sustainable agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley and Central Coast region.

    3. Evaluate both the product and the curriculum development process and suggest ways to improve and adapt the process to other locations throughout California and the Western Region.

    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.