Women in Agriculture Workshops: Exploring On-Farm Conservation Opportunities

Kapil Arora, agricultural engineering field specialist

Situation
Iowa Department of Natural Resources 2002 Impaired Waters List shows sediment as the most common impairment. Erosion of soil is the leading cause of sediment impairments. To resolve this problem, there is a need to understand how to conserve and what conservation practices can be used to achieve it.

Response
In Iowa, there has been an increase in the number of women involved in production agriculture, directly and indirectly. As such, Iowa State University Extension (ISUE) partnered with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and delivered five Women in Agriculture workshops in central Iowa in early September 2003. The focus of these workshops was to explore on-farm conservation opportunities. Specialists from ISUE and NRCS made participants aware of sediment impairments problems, the need to conserve, different conservation practices, and different USDA conservation programs available to help implement these practices. A field tour of the implemented conservation practices in the county was also conducted as a part of the workshop. During this tour, specialists helped participants to understand the practical applications of different conservation practices. A total of fifty-four participants attended these five workshops.

Impact
Participants consisted of land-owners, producers, and agri-business professionals. Information provided at the workshop and the field tour helped participants to understand the need for conservation and how to implement conservation practices into their farm program. A total of 37 workshop evaluations were received. Thirty-five participants found the workshop to be relevant to their farm program. A similar number found that the workshop provided a good understanding of conservation and different conservation practices. Thirty-four participants found that the knowledge obtained through the workshop to be of eventual benefit to their farm, their land, and to themselves. Comments received about the workshops include: “The presentations and tour were well planned and very well presented,” “Great program - great tour!” “I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. Topics are excellent, and I appreciate the number of personnel who participated and shared his/her expertise.”

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