News  |  June 4, 2024

NRCS and SWCD Employees Experience Cutting-Edge On-Farm Communications Training

On May 8 and 9, 2024, employees from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and various Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) gathered for the spring session of the On-Farm Communications Training at Central Lakes College (CLC) Ag & Energy Center. This session marks the beginning of a comprehensive three-part training series extending throughout the growing season, with additional sessions scheduled for July and October.

This initiative builds upon NRCS trainings that began in 2022 and now includes SWCD employees, thanks to a new partnership with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) launched this spring, which you can learn more about here. The immersive training days are designed to provide participants with hands-on technical knowledge and educational insights into modern agricultural practices.

Participants valued the practical experience and direct engagement with agricultural technology. Kim Scheffler, a former CLC student and NRCS intern, and current NRCS soil conservation technician in Le Sueur County, remarked, “These trainings are important for being able to speak the language that farmers speak, connect with people, and learn about their farming operations to better assist with projects.”

Over the course of the two training days, 45 participants attended either May 8 or 9. The day began at the CLC Ag & Energy Center with introductions, followed by a bus ride to the field site. At the field site, attendees received a brief presentation on farm economics before dividing into four groups to rotate through the day’s stations.

The four stations included:

  1. Plant Nutrition and Fertility: Led by CLC Agricultural Crop Production and Management instructor, Nathan Wiese, and CLC Ag & Energy Director, Cory Detloff. This station focused on soil fertility, nutrition, sampling, and plant analysis.
  2. High Speed Tillage Tractor Ride and Drive: Former CLC Ag & Energy Farm Manager Ron Nelson provided insights into the technology and benefits of tillage while participants drove a high-speed tillage tractor.
  3. 16 Row Planter Ride and Drive: Current CLC Farm Manager Todd Pollema demonstrated seed depth and planter equipment on a larger scale, allowing participants to ride in the tractor.
  4. Precision Agriculture: Led by Ag & Energy Farm Tech, Taylor Thompson, and AgCentric Assistant Director, Judy Barka. Participants engaged with a single-row planter and learned about GPS mapping technology.

Ethan Collins, an NRCS employee in Wilmar added, “I aim to better learn how to communicate with farmers in the office or out in the field and translate that into what we do at the NRCS. The ride and drive opportunities were also very attractive.”

Keith Olander, Executive Director of AgCentric, the Minnesota State Northern Agricultural Center of Excellence, which oversees the program, emphasized the shared goal of serving Minnesota farmers and producers. “Our common goal is serving Minnesota farmers and producers. We can help other professionals do their jobs better by having on-farm education,” said Olander.

The summer sessions are scheduled for July 18 and 19, with the fall training sessions taking place on October 16 and 17.

For more information, please contact:

Tyler Grunewald, Agricultural Program Coordinator, AgCentric, Minnesota State Northern Agriculture Center of Excellence, & CLC Ag & Energy Center:

[email protected] * 218-894-5141

About NRCS: The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides America’s farmers and ranchers with financial and technical assistance to voluntarily put conservation on the ground, not only helping the environment but agricultural operations too.

About BWSR: The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) is the state’s administrative agency for 90 soil and water conservation districts, 45 watershed districts, 23 metropolitan watershed management organizations, and 80 county water managers.

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