Past Sustainable Agriculture Projects
New Markets for Your Crops [PDF /1.0MB]
NCAT collaborated with the Community Food Security Coalition to develop a publication aimed at Latino farmers about marketing to institutions. The publication, in Spanish, combines illustrated panels and a reference list.
The Organic Chronicles
The Organic Chronicles, No. 1: Going Organic is targeted to beginning farmers and immigrant farmers and is intended as an introduction to the concepts of organic agriculture with a useful resources section. The 8-page publication with illustrated panels is being produced in English and Spanish, with the option of translation into other languages.
These publications can
be accessed at:
The Organic Chronicles, No. 1: Going Organic
(high resolution) [PDF /
Las Crónicas Orgánicas No. 1: No Tenga Pánico Vuélvase Orgánico
(high resolution) [PDF / 2.6MB]
Southwest Marketing Network
W.K. Kellogg Foundation beginning in 2002 launched the Southwest Marketing Network, an organization working to increase the number and viability of farms, ranches, and food enterprises in the Four Corners states of Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. The project started an effort to provide small-scale and minority producers with access to technical and financial assistance, marketing information, and business and marketing training. The project helped gather local farmer and business-development groups, universities, and Native American tribes in the four-state area into a producer network.
Nutrient Runoff and Water Quality
NCAT participated with the University of Arkansas and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in this SARE-funded study to examine how different grazing systems influence nutrient runoff in pastures manured with poultry wastes. This project revealed and disseminated information on best practices for fertilizing and grazing pastures to prevent phosphorus pollution.
Montana Rivers Project
From 1997 to 2004, NCAT studied the causes of stream dewatering and tested innovative solutions. NCAT installed soil moisture monitors at over 60 farms and ranches along the Jefferson, Boulder, Big Hole, Blackfoot, Beaverhead, Clark Fork, Ruby, Shields, and Yellowstone Rivers. NCAT also sponsored numerous educational events and was instrumental in creating the Jefferson River Watershed Council. The project developed a model of positive and respectful engagement that can be applied in other regions of the Intermountain West where agricultural water use is an issue.
Project funders included the Fanwood Foundation; Ferguson Foundation; General Service Foundation; Greenville Foundation; Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks; Montana Power Company; Montana Trout Foundation; National Fish & Wildlife Foundation; Norcross Wildlife Foundation; Trout Unlimited; and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Building Farm Energy Self-Sufficiency
In this project funded by the USDA Risk Management Agency, NCAT researched several strategies for making US Agriculture more energy self- sufficient and resilient, and created new energy-efficiency tools and publications. Specifically, NCAT created:
Efficiency Plus Irrigation Program
NCAT designs and administers technical assistance, grant, and incentive programs that meet the needs of utilities, agencies, and other clients.
One area of expertise is irrigation. NCAT has been actively promoting irrigation efficiency since the late 1980s.
From 2002 to 2004, the Efficiency Plus (E+) Irrigation Pilot Program provided a comprehensive irrigation efficiency program for NorthWestern Energy's 2,000 irrigation customers in Montana. NCAT designed and ran the program, providing educational workshops, targeted advertising, energy analysis, technical assistance, and rebates. NCAT energy specialists also worked with irrigators to evaluate their irrigation systems, identify cost-effective improvements, and offer appropriate and fair cash incentives. NCAT conducted irrigation audits: measuring flow rates, pressure, and electrical consumption, calculating each system's pumping plant efficiency, and making recommendations for cost-effective energy saving projects. The project improved 88 irrigation systems over a three year period, delivering average energy savings of 40 percent.
Managing Information with Rural America
Managing Information with Rural America (MIRA) was a project sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to empower low-income, rural communities through the use of new and developing telecommunication and information technologies. In its role as one of five national policy support organizations, NCAT explored ways rural communities could use these modern technologies to work on policy issues that impact their daily lives.
Four Corners Project - Assisting Native American Farmers
NCAT's Four Corners Project worked with Native American farmers and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to identify sustainable agriculture systems best suited to the Southwest. Although generally a dry region, the Southwest is actually a mosaic of agricultural environments from desert to high mountain meadows. Geography, climate, history, and population growth have combined to present the area's farmers and ranchers with enormous challenges in attaining financial, environmental, and social sustainability in their livestock and cropping operations. Many agricultural families in the Four Corners have been especially underserved due to cultural differences, language, limited resources, remoteness, and the small scale of their operations. This pilot project combined the strengths of NRCS and NCAT, blending information from NRCS and other USDA programs, ATTRA's expertise, and local and traditional knowledge from the communities, along with culturally sensitive ways of communicating.
Dairy Farm Sustainability Checksheet
NCAT technical specialists worked with University of Arkansas CES specialists, NRCS personnel, industry representatives, and a diverse array of farmers to develop a checksheet. Educational efforts were established in optimizing pasture use, enhancing harvested forages quality, and improving nutrient management control. CES agents, NRCS personnel, top-level producers, and industry representatives were targeted for this training opportunity. The project included distance learning, farm visits, and producer networking in addition to written materials and in-service training. This checksheet project helped NCAT enhance educators' farm planning efforts, provide producers with production and marketing alternatives, decrease environmental regulations concerns, and increase family dairy farms' economic stability.
With combined funding from SARE and the National Organic Program, NCAT created Organic Checksheets and Workbooks for both crop and livestock production, to assist farmers in making the transition to organic farming by helping them evaluate the sustainability of their operations while assessing compliance with new federal organic standards.
Streams as Living Laboratories
This initiative developed by NCAT and local partners involved a hands-on program involving students and educators from six pilot schools in Fayetteville, Arkansas, in stream clean-up activities, water quality analyses and experiments measuring the impacts of land use practices on stream ecology. Project activities increased students' understanding of their local environment and provided students and teachers with a dynamic natural laboratory where they could use inquiry-based learning skills to integrate science, math, literature and social studies curricula. This project was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Mississippi Riverwise Partnership
The Mississippi Riverwise partnership project is a collaborative campaign mounted by a diverse group of organizations committed to reducing the size and impact of the hypoxic zone (dead zone) in the Gulf of Mexico. Excess nitrogen delivered to the Gulf via the Mississippi River is the primary cause of this ecological disaster. The partnership is taking a systems approach to addressing this issue. The campaign strategy incorporates activities from farmers' fields to the halls of Congress and from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the fisheries of the Gulf of Mexico. NCAT served as a co-coordinator for the launch of this campaign.
Enhancing Educator Awareness of Sheep and Goat Production
NCAT developed a Small Ruminant Sustainability Checksheet, set up a listserve for sheep and goat producers and educators, and prepared a training manual used in workshops on sheep and goat production in Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and North Carolina.
AFTA Agroforestry Initiative
NCAT worked with the North American Association for Temperate Agroforestry to develop content for the organization's website, including a database of contacts in the field of agroforestry and a collection of case studies.
Whole Farm Planning
NCAT Agriculture Specialists worked with farmers to produce and market grass-fed beef, while also helping them plan the management of their farms with this marketing goal in mind. Participating farmers from Arkansas and Oklahoma sell their beef under the common label "Ozark Pasture Beef." This project was funded by USDA's Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE).
In September 2002, NCAT signed an agreement with the USDA Risk Management Agency to create a pilot program of risk-management workshops designed specifically for Latino farmers in California. A series of 6 workshops expanded the approach to risk management beyond crop insurance. The project developed a training curriculum and participants' workbook, based on the existing risk management skills of the community.
Range Poultry Production
NCAT's Range Poultry Production project helped farmers boost incomes and diversify operations. NCAT partnered with Heifer Project International (HPI), an Arkansas-based nonprofit organization, in two projects. The first project gave limited resource farmers in the south a chance to try pastured poultry on their farms. The positive results led to NCAT partnering with HPI on a second project to improve feasibility for range poultry business expansion to move producers beyond family-scale production and raise poultry on a larger scale. NCAT developed a toolbox with resources, tips, and worksheets to help with planning poultry businesses.
Oilseeds for Fuel, Feed and the Future
Resources for Market Mangers
ATTRA Master Publications List
A comprehensive listing of ATTRA publications
focused on all aspects of sustainable agriculture and organic farming.