Nebraska Annual State Report

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $110,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2018
Grant Recipient: University of Nebraska
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
State Coordinator:
Dr. Gary Lesoing
University of Nebraska-LIncoln


  • Agronomic: buckwheat, canola, corn, grass (misc. annual), millet, mustard, oats, peas (field, cowpeas), radish (oilseed, daikon, forage), rapeseed, rye, sorghum (milo), sorghum sudangrass, soybeans, sunflower, triticale, vetches, wheat
  • Vegetables: okra, turnips
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bees, bovine, goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy, honey


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, grazing management
  • Crop Production: cover crops, cropping systems, crop rotation, double cropping, multiple cropping, no-till, relay cropping, water management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, strip cropping
  • Pest Management: allelopathy
  • Production Systems: dryland farming, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: earthworms, green manures, nutrient mineralization, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities

    Proposal abstract:

    In 2015-6, more and more farmers have become interested in the sustainable agricultural practice of using cover crops to improve soil health and the long-term productivity of their soil. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and SARE provided opportunities for Extension Ag Educators, NRCS staff, and farmer educators to learn about the use of cover crops by providing support to attend conferences, field days, and tours. UNL Extension has developed a team of Extension Educators and Extension Specialists that are focusing on research and education of the use of cover crops and soil health. The support of SARE in the area of cover crop education has also been beneficial in a team receiving a SARE Research and Education Grant for almost $200,000 to conduct on-farm research to evaluate the use of cover crops in crop/livestock systems and their impact on structure, soil erosion and overall soil health. It has also led to cooperation with Nebraska Extension’s On-Farm Research Program, NRCS and the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalitions in establishing cover crop/soil health research/demonstration sites across the state to help further evaluate the use of cover crops and the importance for soil conservation and soil health. This is an integral component of the SARE Regional Initiative on Soil Health and Water. This regional initiative is very important, as there are a number of questions and concerns in regarding cover crops related to drought and water, which is always an important issue in Nebraska. Nebraska Extension has initiated Issue Teams. Two of the issue teams, Water & Soil Protection and Diversified Ag Production have components that relate to soil health and the use of cover crops in crop/livestock systems. The past NCR SARE Regional Initiative that focused on “Scaling Up Local Food Production” continues to be a priority for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as it continues its leadership in the development of local food systems in Nebraska, working with other organizations such as Buy Fresh Buy Local, the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society and the Center for Rural Affairs. Nebraska Extension has increased its focus on Local Foods. The Issue Team, Food Access involves development of the local food system in Nebraska. We also have a number of Extension Educators whose focus area is Local Foods.

    During 2015-16, programs and projects were funded through the SARE Professional Development Fund. There were travel scholarships awarded to Extension Ag Educators and Farmer Educators to attend conferences focusing on sustainable agriculture, particularly in areas of cover crops and soil health, and small scale food production. Travel scholarships were awarded to people from Nebraska to attend the National Farm to Cafeteria Conference held in Madison, WI in 2016.

    Several women from across Nebraska have been awarded travel scholarships to attend the Women Food and Ag Network Annual Conference to be held in Nebraska City in November, 2016. Tours were conducted to observe and study the use of cover crops, local food systems, diversified ag enterprises and organic farming in Nebraska and regionally for Extension Educators. SARE supported Extension Educators, farmer educators and graduate students to attend the No-Till on the Plains Conference in Salina, KS, Midwest Cover Crop Conference in Iowa and provided support for Cover Crop/Soil Health Field Days the past two years to learn about cover crops. We also provided SARE Travel Scholarships to Extension Educators to attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting/ Professional Improvement Conference in 2015 & 2016 and the National Small Farms Conference in 2016. Mini-grants were awarded to assist in sustainable ag conferences across Nebraska. The support for the three regional conferences that focus on sustainable agriculture was critical, as these are the primary opportunities for educational dissemination of sustainable agricultural information and networking between stakeholders in Nebraska. The Nebraska SARE Website and Sustainable Agriculture Webinars continue to be successful in increasing the awareness of SARE and the opportunity for professional development and grant opportunities in sustainable agriculture in Nebraska, across the United States and around the world. We have conducted four webinars the past couple of years on sustainable ag topics and hope to have a couple more before the end of 2016. Nebraska Extension has provided and is scheduling diversity education and training. Nebraska SARE initiated training in diversity in previous years and will continue to support it.

    Gary Lesoing will be completing his ninth year as Nebraska SARE Coordinator on December 31, 2016. I believe we are definitely seeing benefits from the Nebraska SARE Program and the support it provides to Ag Educators throughout the state for sustainable agriculture education. I am very excited with the increased interest in sustainable agriculture and more ag educators, especially vocational ag instructors, increasing their knowledge of sustainable agriculture through several Nebraska SARE Professional Development opportunities. In 2015-16, the Nebraska SARE Program has provided SARE Publications, mini-grants for curriculum development and travel scholarships for professional development to vocational ag instructors. Extension Educators, NRD staff and farmer educators received SARE Travel Scholarships and mini-grants for professional development for several Sustainable Agriculture conferences and projects. The Nebraska SARE Advisory Committee is a very active and diverse group that provides valuable input into the development of the Plan of Work. There are members of the committee that are members of public and private organizations and farmers. We now have 5 people on the committee from UNL, 4 Extension Educators and 1 from the Department of Agronomy.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    2017-18 initiatives are:

    1. Soil health and water
    2. Regional conferences focusing on sustainable agriculture issues
    3. Scaling up local food issues
    4. Web-based education of sustainable agriculture
    5. Emerging issues
    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.