USDA partnering with Northcentral Technical College to advance ag innovation
MADISON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has issued a cooperative agreement with the Northcentral Technical College (NTC) and eight additional colleges in the Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement (C2A3). They will receive $529,924.48 over the next four years as part of the agreement.
The nine Midwestern community colleges that make up the Alliance boast strong agricultural programs and traditions. The consortium was developed under a Memorandum of Understanding with the USDA-NRCS and USDA North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (USDA-SARE). The main objective of the agreement is to realize a shared goal of ensuring quality education and training of field practitioners. By establishing a collaborative framework for cooperative activities, these partners will enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship.
A key component of this agreement is hands-on learning in the field, utilizing College land resources to model best practices. Faculty and students will work with NRCS field office staff to implement a conservation plan, install practices on the ground, collect data, and help inform current and future producers. NTC will utilize funds to implement a conservation plan with the Wisconsin NRCS, support research plots, teach students to collect and report samples and host field days.
The goal is not only to accelerate the adoption of conservation practices through the education of current, two-year agriculture students, but to also disseminate information to the broader community through field days and other NTC events and partnerships.
“NTC plans to hold at least one field day per year to demonstrate to our community the work we are performing through this grant to achieve successful crops utilizing the latest conservation practices in the Agricultural industry,” said Dr. Greg Cisewski, Dean of NTC’s School of Agricultural Sciences, Utilities, and Transportation. “NTC is also exploring opportunities to potentially replicate in-person field day activities in an on-line environment so more community members can gain information at a time that’s convenient for them.”
The C2A3 collaboration was born out of a mutual desire to provide more ongoing education, training and demonstration to future farm producers and agricultural service providers with the goal of improving the health, and therefore the long–term productivity, resilience and sustainability of the soil.
"We’re excited to be partnering with Northcentral Technical College to showcase that agricultural productivity and natural resource protection are compatible goals," said Angela Biggs, USDA-NRCS State Conservationist for Wisconsin. "Through this collaboration, applied research and conservation practice implementation will be publicly highlighted to demonstrate the most effective conservation systems that have the greatest environmental and economic benefit.”
In addition to working together on applied research projects that advance student learning on their college farms, member institutions partner with one another to share resources, faculty expertise, curriculum and tools which will advance the future of agriculture production in this country.