Farmers have long been problem solvers, and they can be leaders in solving water quality problems. They also often look to each other to learn new things to try on their operations.
Farmer-to-farmer learning about conservation agriculture practices, such as cover crops and no till, can thus be a particularly impactful way to engage and empower farmers to be active in solutions for clean water. Significant research supports how influential social norms and peer learning can be in facilitating behavior change.
The Network is involved in the following multi-state, collaborative efforts to engage and empower more farmers to support each other and lead their communities toward a future of thriving farms, healthy landscapes, and clean water. Currently, this work is focused primarily on the Mississippi River Basin.
One Good Idea
We operate One Good Idea, an online clearinghouse of videos and podcasts that feature farmers sharing their experiences implementing conservation practices. A multi-state, collaborative effort between land grant universities and farmers, it facilitates farmer-to-farmer learning by providing a centralized place for farmers to find practical information about conservation practices that is by farmers, for farmers, and backed by evidence. Go to One Good Idea >>
Farmer Leadership Development
We develop research-based curricula that can be used by conservation professionals and watershed practitioners to cultivate farmer leadership in their watersheds and communities. The following curriculum are available for use, and there is more in the works.
Tap Your Potential: A Training to Grow Farmer Leadership in Watershed Management is a curriculum designed to empower more farmers to get involved in watershed management in their communities. Learn more >>
Data-Driven Outreach to Farmers
In partnership with Trust in Food, an initiative of Farm Journal, we are developing a data-driven model for recruiting new farmer leaders and conducting farmer-to-farmer communication campaigns. This innovative approach will augment relationship-driven farmer outreach by expanding the reach of engagement efforts, improving audience targeting, and boosting participation in farmer-to-farmer learning about conservation.
Farmer-to-Farmer Learning Events
We help organize in-person and virtual exchanges for farmers to network with and learn from each other about how to implement conservation practices on their operations. These events bring together farmers from multiple states to help broaden their learning networks.
This virtual Shop Talk series, held in early 2021, was 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. Watch the video recordings>>
The following land grant universities are collaborators on these efforts:
- University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension
- Mississippi State University, Research and Education to Advance Conservation and Habitat (REACH)
- University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension
- University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
- University of Illinois
- Purdue University Extension