by Beth Ann Luedeker

plants growing in field
A seeding rate trial including mustard, oat, and winter pea is one of the research projects currently underway in the Brazos bottom. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

Conservation and sustainable agriculture practices aim to address our world’s need for food and fiber products with minimal impact on the soil and available water resources. Farmers who implement these practices may qualify for federal funding if certain standards are met.

The standards are set by the National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), based on land grant university research, and disseminated to producers through the NRCS and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension efforts.

group of people looking at mustard plants
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialist Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., discusses a a research project he is conducting with mustard. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

To help facilitate the communication between these groups, Jake Mowrer, Ph.D., held a “train the trainers” conservation and sustainable agriculture field tour at the Texas A&M University farm in College Station March 3. The workshop was designed to help them better promote the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices.

“Texas is lagging behind other states in the adoption of sustainable practices. Communicating the most current research to the scientists that work directly with farmers is key to changing practices,” said Mowrer, an Assistant Professor and AgriLife Extension Specialist in Soil Nutrient & Water Resource Management in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.

people looking at research plots
Field day participants had an opportunity to tour a trial containing 26 different cover crop species. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

“More than fifty percent of the ag and natural resource county agents have less than five years of experience, and many could use more depth of training in our ag sciences,” he said. “There are many who were not raised on farms and whose degree training does not cover the breadth of the ag sciences.”

Mowrer points to the wide variety of agricultural enterprises across the states and the varying needs of the counties.

He believes that providing regionally relevant workshops will help ensure that those who are assisting the state’s producers are aware of current research that will best address those producer’s needs.

group of people in field by device that captures emmissions from soil
Research being led by Diana Zapata, Ph.D., and Nithya Rajan, Ph.D., was of particular interest to participants at the field tour. The trial compares CO2 emissions, crop yield, and biomass productivity in organic and conventional corn and sorghum production. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)

At the March 3 workshop, 47 people from AgriLife Extension Districts 9 and 11, NRCS zones 3 and 4, and Prarieview A&M University Extension took part.

Mowrer plans to hold another workshop at the Stiles Farm in Thrall, TX, on summer cover crops, double cropping, and tillage practices. Derrick Banks, Fort Bend County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, plans to hold one at PVAMU later in the spring.

These workshops are funded by a grant from Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE).

group of people in field
Texas A&M AgriLife Research Specialist Daniel Hathcoat discusses research on the suitability of 26 different cover crop species based on biomass, weed suppression and impact on soil moisture. (Texas A&M AgriLife photo by Beth Ann Luedeker)