On September 12, over 65 producers and researchers attended the Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) all-day training program on research-based organic practices from the ISU Organic Ag Program. USDA-NRCS soil conservationists, ISU professors and USDA-ARS soil scientists offered organic producers, and those with an interest in organic production, information on the latest ways to support organic practices. The group discussed cost-share programs for organic production and how to become organic certified through research-based practices.
Dr. Kathleen Delate, an organic specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, said the event was very successful, from both an NRCS and farmer perspective. The training provided a review of organic opportunities offered by NRCS in their EQIP and CSP programs, as well as information on the new 823 Organic Management Practice Standard. In addition to Delate, speakers included Dr. Sabrina Ruis, soil scientist, USDA-ARS; Dr. Antonio Mallarino, agronomy, ISU; Kevin Kuhn, Iowa NRCS resource conservationist, and three organic farmers: Ron Rosmann, Paul Mugge and Scott Shriver. Details on Organic System Plans, which included nutrient and pest management plans, were presented along with examples of erosion and nutrient budgeting calculations for NRCS conservation practice standards.
Dr. Mallarino explained that, “Farmers need to understand how to calculate nutrients from manure applications, which is required for NRCS Nutrient Management cost-share programs. It is especially important for organic growers who rely on organic sources.” NRCS conservationists were equally grateful for the training, writing in their evaluations: “Really appreciated the organic farmer panel. It was nice to hear from producers that participate in NRCS programs and those who do not. For the producers who have not participated in programs, I appreciated hearing them share that flexibility was a concern, along with compliance. It’s good to know what the concerns are out there so we can work to try and alleviate them.”
The event was supported through a grant from the USDA National Organic Program Transitioning to Organic Partnership Program coordinated by Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA): Midwest TOPP. For more information, contact Kathleen Delate.
In photo above, Dr. Delate, left, and Dr. Mallarino, right, speak during the recent ISU–NRCS Organic Training.