Farmer-to-Farmer Conservation Learning and Leadership

This project is creating ways for farmers to learn from each other about how to implement conservation practices and reap the benefits for both their farms and communities.

Conservation practices, such as cover crops and no-till, are gaining interest among farmers as means to protect soil health, farm legacies, and natural resources. But turning interest into action requires knowing how to make on-farm conservation work and how to plug into larger efforts to support healthy landscapes and profitable agricultural systems.

Who better to teach farmers this knowledge than other farmers who are already engaged?

Through this project, we are connecting farmers from across the Mississippi River Basin who are at various stages in their conservation journey. We are creating opportunities for them to share real-world knowledge and insights about implementing practices on farms and across watersheds, while maintaining farm profitability and practicality.

Our ultimate goal is to help farmers be successful with their on-farm conservation and feel inspired to lead their communities toward a future of thriving farms, healthy landscapes, and clean water.

Project News

Mini-Grant Program for Farmer-Led Conservation and Watershed Protection Projects: Apply by April 30, 2021

Looking to kickstart or expand farmer-led conservation demonstration efforts? This mini-grant program will support nongovernmental organizations, state or county government agencies, university Extension professionals, and others who support farmers in one or more of the 12 SERA-46/Hypoxia Task Force states in the Mississippi River Basin: Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. Qualified organizations must partner with an existing farmer or farmer-led organization. Awards will be up to $4000 for one year. Applications will be accepted now through April 30, 2021. Learn more and apply>>

Virtual Shop Talks for Farmers in February and March 2021

This virtual Shop Talk series will be an opportunity for farmers to have meaningful conversations with other farmers and experts about practical ideas and programs that can help them weather hard times and have success with stewardship practices. Learn more and register>>

Project Objectives

1. Facilitate Farmer-to-Farmer Learning: Through in-person and virtual exchanges, farmers will have the opportunity to network with and learn from each other about how they can implement conservation practices on their farms, as well as work with other farmers in their home communities to do the same.

In February and March 2021, we are hosting Virtual Shop Talks for farmers to bring together like-minded farmers from across the Midwest and Mid-South to learn and share ideas around resource stewardship in hard times. Learn more>>

Our first field day took place in February 2020 in Memphis, Tennessee with visits to nearby farms in Arkansas and Mississippi. Read this story from Delta Farm Press that highlights one of our host farmers.

2. Kickstart Farmer-Led Efforts: Through an annual mini-grant program, farmers will have access to funding to kickstart conservation demonstration efforts and farmer-led organizations in their local watersheds.

3. Enable Basin-Wide Communication: Through an interactive, web-based platform, farmers will be able to get advice, knowledge, and support from other farmers about conservation practices and watershed leadership wherever they are.

4. Learn from the Process: Through water quality monitoring and data-oriented evaluation, the project will produce new insights on how much farmer-led efforts were able to improve water quality and how to best empower farmers to succeed and lead in conservation.

Project Partners

This project is a partnership between Mississippi State University and its Research & Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat (REACH) program, University of Kentucky, University of Illinois, University of Arkansas and its Discovery Farms program, and University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension and UW Discovery Farms program. The project is supported financially by the U.S. EPA under cooperative agreement MX – 00D87719.

Project Contact

Beth Baker, principal investigator
Director, REACH program, Mississippi State University
beth.baker@msstate.edu