NCAT Southwest Regional Office

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The Dirt E-Newsletter

dirt_logoSee past issues of our newsletter, The Dirt. It showcases the Southwest Regional Office’s efforts, programs and services. Browse them to see the important sustainable agriculture and energy work we are doing in San Antonio Texas.

Check out our DIRT e-news archives

Opened in 2010, NCAT’s Southwest Regional Office is located in downtown San Antonio, Texas. We are constantly seeking to meet, learn about, and collaborate with other groups in our region with similar missions. We take a special interest in the states of Texas and New Mexico.

Current projects

  • The ATTRA Program: Providing regionally appropriate technical assistance on organic certification, cover crops, soil health, pastured poultry, water conservation, farm business planning, and many other topics.
  • Subtropical Soil Health Initiative: Improving soil health in subtropical South Texas, through the use of cover crops, reduced tillage, and other methods.
  • Soil for Water: Researching and promoting ways of storing more rainwater in soil.
  • Texas Hispanic Farmer Rancher Conference: Practical workshops and a celebration of Hispanic farmers and ranchers in Texas. Register or sponsor the conference.
  • Beyond Fresh: Expanding markets for value-added food products in Texas. Read the final report, view the workbook, and download free cost calculating tools.
  • Is Organic Farming Risky?: Research and education on better crop insurance options for diversified and organic farms.
  • Local food initiatives, including our Feasibility Study for a Texas Organic Food Hub.
  • Preparing military veterans for careers in sustainable farming, through field days, e-learning opportunities, business planning help, and our intensive Armed to Farm trainings. Visit NCAT’s Armed to Farm page.

We are seeking collaborators and funding for

  • Regional conservation partnerships: Improving soil health and water quality through the use of cover crops, environmentally friendly grazing, and other methods.
  • More water conservation projects: Irrigation efficiency, riparian protection, and farming and ranching methods that increase the water-holding capacity of soils.
  • More support for organic agriculture; there is great potential in our region. See our report on organic farming in Texas.
  • More outreach programs to make appropriate technologies available to the region’s most economically vulnerable people.
  • International partnerships.

Contact NCAT’s Southwest Regional Office

118 Broadway, Suite 524
San Antonio, TX 78205
(866) 319-1669

Mike Morris ( is director of NCAT’s Southwest Regional Office.


Texas Soil Health Short Course: Health Found in Diversity

by Colin Mitchell A Texas Soil Health Short Course took place on February 26th and 27th in Palestine, TX, sponsored by USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Association of Texas Soil & Water Conservation Districts, and Texas Wildlife Association. NCAT Sustainable Ag Specialist Kara Kroger and I attended… Continue Reading

Resilient as Texas: TOFGA Conference 2019

by Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Colin Mitchell Last month was the annual Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (TOFGA) Conference. It was the 25th TOFGA Conference, but my first. The conference didn’t have an official theme, but it was apparent from the plenary, the location, the banquet, and the keynote speech that the theme of the… Continue Reading

NCAT survey seeks grower feedback on crop insurance

NCAT survey seeks grower feedback on crop insurance

Calling all growers: Help create a more level crop insurance playing field by taking a 20-minute survey at Background: Crop insurance not only helps farms and ranches survive weather-related losses, but is required for many loans. The 2014 Farm Bill required the USDA to create new insurance products tailored to the needs of organic,… Continue Reading

NCAT Specialist Featured in Small Producer Initiative Webinar March 30

NCAT Specialist Featured in Small Producer Initiative Webinar March 30

As a part of Texas State University’s Small Producer Initiative, NCAT Poultry Specialist Kevin Ellis will be presenting a webinar on the topic of pastured poultry. The presentation serves as an introduction to raising poultry on pasture including egg-laying hens, meat-type broilers, and turkeys. Kevin will cover everything you need to get started including shelter… Continue Reading

Catching Rainwater with Cows, Soil Microbes, and Electric Fencing

Catching Rainwater with Cows, Soil Microbes, and Electric Fencing

Excerpt taken from The Dirt Southwest Newsletter Now in its second year, NCAT’s Soil for Water initiative has already taught over 150 people, mostly landowners, how to build healthy soils that catch and hold more rainwater. In the late spring and summer our research team, led by students and faculty from Texas State University, set… Continue Reading

New NCAT Report: Who Are the Organic Farmers of Texas?

New NCAT Report: Who Are the Organic Farmers of Texas?

NCAT has released a new report, Who Are the Organic Farmers of Texas? The report reviews all USDA data, including newly available reports and tools, to arrive at an accurate picture of the number, location, and types of organic farms in Texas. Although Texas is a national leader in organic cotton, rice, and peanut production,… Continue Reading

Feasibility Study for a Texas Organic Food Hub is out!

After a year of research, NCAT staff members Robert Maggiani and Mike Morris have completed their long-awaited Feasibility Study for a Texas Organic Food Hub, as well as an accompanying Food Hub Planning Workbook that can be used by food hub planners and organizers to forecast the financial performance of an existing or hypothetical food… Continue Reading

Texas Veterans Attend Armed to Farm Training

From April 13-17, NCAT hosted 25 Texas veterans for an Armed to Farm training in Castroville, Texas, 30 miles west of San Antonio. The training included classroom presentations, farm tours, and hands-on activities. A grant from the veterans’ organization Swords to Plowshares  helped cover the training costs, as did funds from the USDA Rural Development… Continue Reading