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ARS Home » Plains Area » El Reno, Oklahoma » Oklahoma and Central Plains Agricultural Research Center » Research » Research Project #440761

Research Project: Increasing the Implementation of Soil Health Practices by Producers through Education about Climate Smart Agriculture in the Southern Plains

Location: Oklahoma and Central Plains Agricultural Research Center

Project Number: 3070-12610-001-003-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2021
End Date: Sep 30, 2022

To increase implementation of soil health practices (cover crops, no/conservation tillage, etc.) by producers, assist the SP LTAR team through development of a stakeholder group, and provide education about climate smart agriculture in the Southern Plains to producers, NRCS and conservation partnership personnel through (1) promotion of the use of prescribed fire as a tool for wildfire control and ecosystem improvement, (2) establishment and facilitation of demonstration plots, (3) the use of climate adaptation tools for producers by NRCS and conservation partnership personnel, (4) the use of podcasts and social media and tools to promote soil health and climate smart agriculture (4) and education and outreach activities to youth and adults. The major objectives of this agreement are to: • Promotion of prescribed fire as a tool to reduce wildfire danger and improve ecosystem health. • Develop and deploy outreach and education tools, classes and materials to youth and adult audiences throughout the region. • Continue development of outreach podcasts, periodical video presentations and other outreach material highlighting the importance of soil health and other land treatment and research efforts in helping farmers and ranchers adapt to extreme weather. • Highlight and promote the extreme weather adaption research, tools and strategies developed by USDA to assist farmers and ranchers through podcasts, video products, producer meetings, social media and other avenues. • Identify key performance indicators and metrics to demonstrate the success of the work against the goals and objectives of the Climate Hubs program and this agreement. • Develop draft metrics to measure key performance indicators (e.g., have workshop attendees fill out a questionnaire of knowledge before and after an in-person training) then collaborate with NRCS, the Southern Plains Climate Hub Director, and the National Lead to finalize key performance indicators and metrics. • Assist the SP LTAR team through development of a stakeholder group effectively engage farmers, ranchers, foresters and their advisers on ongoing process for adapting southern plains agriculture to the changing climate.

The Southern Plains Climate Hub will integrate the work of the Grazinglands Research Lab (GRL) into its broader portfolio of science and service initiatives, and will report on the work of the GRL to regional and national USDA program leadership as well as to critical in-region partners. Input into the GRL activities below will be solicited from, for example, NRCS state conservationists and staff in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas; NRCS technology center directors and staff; and the Southern Plains Climate Hub Joint Stakeholder Committee. Specific tasks include: 1) Technology transfer; specifically holding at least 2 wildfire training seminars in the region, continue promotion of wildfire damage prevention material in the region, and work with USDA partners to help facilitate their efforts to reduce wildfire danger in the Southern Plains through ongoing USDA initiatives, with a focus on the use of prescribed fire as a tool to reduce wildfire fuel load. 2) Continue established work on demonstration farms which includes development of a soil health demonstration partnership at the GRL as a tool for both producer outreach and conversation personnel training, conducting at least 1 soil health/climate smart agriculture outreach event in the region, continue the facilitation of at least 1 demonstration farm highlighting the benefits of utilizing soil health practices and concepts for the conversion of ground enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program to crop and/or livestock production, hold at least 1 field day/seminar in the region on how soil health practices can minimize the negative impacts associated with returning CRP ground to production, continue the facilitation of demonstration farms in partnership with NRCS including tribal outreach and sponsor at least 2 field days/seminars associated with these initiatives. 3) Communications and Outreach events that include continued development of podcasts, periodic video presentations, and other outreach material highlighting the importance of soil health and other land treatment and research efforts in helping farmers and ranchers adapt to extreme weather, use podcasts and video presentations as tools to discuss the impact of the changing climate on agriculture and rural communities as well as highlight the work of the various USDA and partner agencies to counter these challenges, expand promotion and reach of both the podcast and video products, facilitate the creation of partnerships to use earlier PSA’s as part of promotional effort, review and report number of downloads, followers and other contacts on social media efforts and podcasts, and develop and produce a monthly newsletter highlighting the work of the Hub, NRCS, ARS and other USDA agencies and partners to promote ongoing research, tool development and adaptation strategies for helping farmers and ranchers deal with extreme weather. 4) Education through sponsoring 2 youth education outreach events in the region, and promoting soil health in youth activities including 4-H, FFA and other school extracurricular organizations.