Are you looking for in-depth education on topics related to sustainable agriculture?

Two new courses outlining Farm Energy Efficiency and Scaling Up for Regional Markets are now available from NCAT/ATTRA. We’ve also added a new quiz feature to each of our tutorials. Each lesson includes a quiz that will test what you learned in that specific lesson. If you successfully pass all quizzes, you’ll get a certificate demonstrating your knowledge.

NCAT/ATTRA’s certification program is an effort to help people of all ages and backgrounds demonstrate the skills they’ve gained through diverse learning experiences. Because we believe ATTRA website users are thinkers and problem solvers, we are happy to help people digitally demonstrate these capabilities. A certificate from us can help you in your education and your career.


Intermediated Markets

Chef- Intermediated MarketsTraditionally, farmers have sold either direct to their customers or in bulk to a wholesaler. As the local food movement grows and evolves, another market is developing with the potential to help local, small- and medium-scale farm businesses reach more and more customers: intermediated markets.

Intermediated markets have one stop between the farmer and the customer. Restaurants, food hubs, retailers (like small groceries and food co-ops), and institutions (schools, hospitals, prisons, etc.) are all opportunities for farmers to diversify their income stream, build strong community connections, and make their farm business more resilient and sustainable.

This tutorial will walk you through the reasons for selling into intermediated markets, the types of intermediated markets, and some considerations for your farm business.



Produce Safety

table-full-of-produceThis tutorial serves as an introduction to food safety topics for produce growers, with information on FSMA rules, GAP certification, and writing a farm food safety plan. Food safety considerations are critical for the long-term success of your farming operation and this tutorial will equip you with the tools and resources to begin to implement food safety practices on your own farm. The lessons in this tutorial include an introduction to produce safety on the farm, rules for produce safety under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the GAP certification and audit process, and developing your own farm food safety plan. Whether you are wanting to become GAP certified, learn more about how the FSMA Produce Safety Rule affects your farm, or just become better-educated on food safety topics, this tutorial will hel

p you become better-informed to reduce the food safety risks on your farm and ensure the long-term success of your operation.



Soil Health

healthy soilSoil health is critical to the sustainability and profitability of all farms and ranches. This tutorial will give producers the tools they need to assess their soil health, understand the principles behind soil health management, and learn practices they can use to return soils to a healthy state. There are five principles to sustainable soil management that will be discussed throughout these lessons: keeping the soil covered, maintaining living roots, including a diversity of plants, limiting soil disturbance, and including livestock where possible. If farmers are able to model their operations on the soil-forming processes seen in the natural environment, their soils can be regenerated and remain rich, productive, and resilient for generations. This tutorial will give farmers the tools needed to understand how to invest in their soils wisely.



⇒ Farm Energy Efficiency

Iowa Solar FarmThis series of lessons is designed for farmers that would like to increase the energy efficiency of their farm and processes. It features tutorials on farm building efficiency, outdoor lighting, irrigation efficiency, solar, small-scale wind, and biodiesel.
This tutorial includes the following lessons:



Managed Grazing

Managed GrazingHave you heard that changing the way you manage your grazing animals can change the condition of your land and finances for the better? Interested in finding out more about how managing your livestock can improve your soil health, your pasture condition and your bottom line? This tutorial features sessions taught by National Center for Appropriate Technology specialists who are also livestock producers. They share years of experience managing their own pastures to inspire you to start wherever you are and build or refine your own managed grazing systems. Detailed presentations and real-world examples will get you on the road to managed grazing.
This lesson includes:



⇒ Sustainable Irrigation: a Beginner’s Guide

When irrigation is appropriate to its location and circumstances, it can be an essential element of farm sustainability. Sustainable irrigation includes taking good care of the soil and water source, constantly improving soil health, being efficient in your use of water and energy, treating neighbors and other water users fairly, and keeping costs down so you can be profitable and stay in farming for the long haul. Aimed at beginning farmers with little or no experience, this course begins at square one and demystifies the irrigation process: providing a friendly introduction to equipment, terminology, and safety precautions. Unlike other irrigation courses that take a more industrial or engineering approach, this one maintains a strong focus on sustainability throughout.

Lesson 1: Sustainable Irrigation, a Beginner’s Guide

Dave Scott

by Dave Scott, NCAT Livestock Specialist


Mike Morris

by Mike Morris, NCAT Energy Specialist

Vicki Lynne

by Vicki Lynne, NCAT Energy Engineer

Tammy Howard

Narrated by Tammy Howard, NCAT Agricultural Specialist

This lesson includes:
1. Learning to recognize a wide variety of sprinkler systems
2. Learning how the different sprinkler systems work, pros and cons, and situations where they are appropriate
3. Common terminology used to describe these systems
4. Basic safety precautions

Do you have any questions or comments about this project?

Please contact:
Mike Morris ~ Energy Specialist
NCAT, The National Center for Appropriate Technology
P.O. Box 3838
Butte, MT 59701




⇒ Scaling Up for Regional Markets

Scaling up for regional markets often refers to an increase in the amount of land in production, herd size, enterprises, or markets. Scaling up can also refer to improving current production systems in order to increase sales. In either case, there are many risks and challenges associated in scaling up, especially as a farmer prepares to gain access in to the wholesale market. This tutorial provides lessons and information for farmers who have success in smaller and more direct marketing channels and who are interested in expanding their operations to meet a growing demand for local food. Nine of the first ten lessons include a quiz. If you successfully pass all quizzes, you will be able to download a certificate of completion. There are an additional four lessons which are not required for the certificate.

The following lessons are included for the certificate:

Additional lessons and case studies:



Ecological Pest Management

This tutorial focuses on giving you tools to implement ecologically-based pest management strategies. The five lessons in this tutorial provide information on what ecological pest management is, how to get started, how to implement preventive strategies, biological controls, and how to use NCAT and ATTRA resources. There are also resources to help you develop your own ecological pest management strategy for your farm.



Beginning Farmer Tutorials

⇒ Taking Your Farm to the Next Level

Are you a beginning farmer or rancher who has been farming a few years? Do you have a strong grasp on sustainable production techniques, but need to grow more advanced business management skills? If so, this course is for you.

This six-part course will equip you with the management skills necessary to operate a successful, sustainable farm business for the long-term. You’ll receive training on whole-farm planning, business plan development, financial management, access to capital, recordkeeping, and market development. You’ll set meaningful goals for your farm business and will receive the informational tools, resources, and support to make progress towards those goals.

Financial support for this course comes from a Southern SARE Education grant (LS18-292).



⇒ Farm Business Planning & Marketing for Beginners

Are you a beginning farmer? Do you want to expand your markets? Do you want to add sheep, goats, or poultry to your operation? This “beginner” online course will help you develop a basic business and marketing plan for your operation, and provide you with information and worksheets to help you meet your farm goals. There’s lots of information about small livestock production, too. Most information is available in English and Spanish. The resources from this project were developed with funding from USDA and provide information in visual and audio formats.



⇒ Getting Started in Farming: An Introduction to Farm Business Planning

If you are thinking about farming as a career you’ve come to the right place. The eight lessons in this course will guide you through the process of imagining and planning a successful farming enterprise. You’ll also hear from several farmers who have made their dreams a reality.