The Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3) is comprised of Midwest community colleges partnering to advance agriculture and economic resiliency in rural communities; eight are participating in the project: Central Lakes College (Minnesota), Clark State Community College (Ohio), Illinois Central College
(Illinois), Northcentral Technical College (Wisconsin), North Dakota State College of Science (North Dakota), Northeast Community College (Nebraska), Northeast Iowa Community College (Iowa), and Richland Community College (Illinois). The eight partnering community/technical colleges will teach producers and agriculture students about profitability, sustainability and productivity of regionally-specific soil management recommendations such as soil health, cover crops and no till agriculture. These colleges have an existing alliance focused on soil health; this project will increase awareness, knowledge and skills about sustainable soil health practices for producers.
College advisory panels—consisting of producers (farmers/ranchers), students, and Extension representatives—will support soil health curriculum development. The material will be used for producer workshops and integration of content within lesson plans/modules related agriculture courses, serving 720 producers and 1,000 students. This will include the development of materials, videos and case studies and dissemination through classrooms, field days, workshops and demonstrations. Project producers realize the importance of educating the next generation of producers. Producers and agricultural students will gain knowledge and skills applicable to their current or future farming practices to increase productivity, profitability, and sustainability.
Project objectives from proposal:
Learning: 720 producers and 1,000 students will learn about techniques for establishing and managing sustainable soil health practices appropriate to their region such as monitoring soil health/qualities, reducing tillage, using cover crops to soil improvements, minimal/reduced/no-till systems, erosion control by using cover crops to keep soil armor, and water management tools-primarily through cover crops and soil structure/infiltration improvements; and more.
Action: 160 producers will better understand these practices and plan to implement one or more on their farm; 200 students will include practices in farm business plans and/or plan to implement.