Mentoring for Extension Educators in Integrated Crop Management
The Massachusetts state program is responding to the interests of farmers and educator for training in integrated crop management (ICM) – topics such as ecological-based weed control, integrated pest management practices, cost and efficacy of organic materials for pest management, managing for drought, record keeping methods for regulatory compliance – and to the concern that the Extension workforce is shrinking and current and pending retirements are diminishing the pool of expert knowledge needed to help farmers with ICM. The project, offered from 2017 to 2020, is building ICM knowledge and skills and facilitate new networking relationships in-state and regionally through monthly peer mentoring meetings where early career educators are mentored by more experienced peers, an annual ICM professional development workshop that targets a training topic requested by participants, and funding for self-directed independent ICM professional development such as attendance at working group meetings and relevant sessions at professional conferences.
Recently Completed Project
Nutrient Management Guidelines and Cover Crops for Soil Health
During this three year initiative, begun in 2014, ag service providers from NRCS, UMass Extension, MA Dept. of Ag, private crop consultants, ag industry reps and NGOs gained knowledge, skills and tools that equipped them to help farmers employ best practices that improve nutrient cycling and reduce the risk of excess nutrient leaching and runoff, and to select and manage cover crops to obtain soil health benefits.