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Organic Excellence Program Details

Farmers are incredibly innovative, always striving to improve the sustainability, efficiency, and economics of their businesses by trying new farming practices. These practical experiments can be instructive for other farmers hoping to incorporate new practices into their own operations.

 

If you have tried an organic or sustainable farming practice (no-till, cover cropping, crop rotations, rotational grazing, organic soil amendments, mulching systems, improved irrigation, etc), this is your opportunity to share what you’ve learned. Did this new practice improve soil organic matter? Did you actually see a yield decline? Other farmers want to learn from your experience! The practice you tried and the results in the context of your farm can help other farmers learn what practices might or might not work on their farms. 

 

This program is an opportunity for you to document and share one organic or sustainable farming practice you have tried in the past or are trying out this growing season. If you are one of the five selected applicants, you will create a short proposal (1-2 paragraphs) explaining the experimental practice you have tried or are trying and why you think it would be helpful to other farmers to hear about your results. 

The top three proposals (based on explanation of need for the practice, description of process, and broad applicability) will be selected to move forward. These three applicants will put together a presentation (which can include photographs and data highlighting your results, or simply be an informal sharing time about what you did and what you learned) about the practice they tried, which will be presented at the NSAS Annual Conference in Nebraska City on January 31 & February 1, 2025. 

 

Presentations can be given in-person at the conference, or pre-recorded for virtual playback. Conference attendees will select the overall standout presentation for special recognition. Please consider this opportunity to share what you’ve learned about sustainable practices with other farmers who could benefit from learning how and why the practice worked (or didn’t work) on your farm. 

Program guidelines: 

Applicants:

  • Do not need to be certified organic farmers to participate

  • Must have tried organic and/or sustainable practices

  • Must willing to share their experiences

 

Participation Process:

  • Applicants will enter through a Google Form by July 15, 2024.

  • NSAS will select the top 5 applicants who will move forward in this initiative. Selected applicants will be notified of their acceptance by July 31, 2024.

  • The 5 selected applicants will write a short proposal (1-2 paragraphs) of the practice they would like to share. A panel of 3 judges will select 3 of the proposals to move forward.

  • The three selected applicants will have the remainder of the growing season to track and document their chosen practice for presentation. The three selected participants will each receive an honorarium of $350 for their presentations. 

 

Presentation Submission:​

  • The 3 selected participants will present at the 2025 NSAS Annual Conference on January 31 - February 1, 2025 in Nebraska City.

    • Presentations may be given in-person or pre-recorded.

 

Presentations May Include:

  • Before/after results of incorporating organic practices into the farm’s production system

  • Reasons for choosing these practices

  • Results and lessons learned from these practices

  • Future goals to incorporate more organic practices

  • How the new practices comply (or not) with certified organic farming regulations

 

Judging Criteria:

  • Proposal clearly communicates the need for the practice, what was done/is being done, and the results/how results will be measured

  • Points given for applicability of the practice to other farms

  • Consideration for practices feasible to measure, document, and communicate in a presentation

  • Explanation of why practice is NOP (USDA’s National Organic Program) approved or not

 

Final Selection:

  • The overall standout presentation will be selected by conference attendees after the presentations. The selected participant will receive a special recognition.

 

The initiative will be run again in 2025, with selected participants presenting at the 2026 conference.

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