New opportunities for farmers to advance on their conservation agriculture journeys


January 8th, 2024

This month presents two unique opportunities for farmers in the Midwest and Mid-South to advance their efforts to improve soil health and water quality, while protecting their profitability.

The first is Good Idea Shop Talks, a free meet-up series for row crop and livestock farmers who want to exchange ideas and advice for troubleshooting on-farm challenges related to improving soil and water resources. It will help farmers connect with and learn from each other about how to be good stewards while protecting their profitability.

These weekly, virtual meet-ups will take place on Thursdays, January 18th and 25th, and February 1st at 11:30am CT / 12:30 ET. Learn more and register here:

The second is Good Idea Mini-Grants, which invites pairs of farmers and farm advisors to submit proposals to implement a low-cost edge-of-field conservation practice on the farmer’s operation and create a video or podcast about what they learned to be shared with other farmers. Edge-of-field practices help reduce erosion and nutrient loss at farm field edges and waterways and include a myriad of practices, such as vegetated buffers, prairie strips, two-stage ditches, restored wetlands, and many more.

Mini-grant awards are up to $8,000. The application deadline is January 22nd, 2024. Learn more and apply here:  

Both opportunities are open to farmers in the following states of the Mississippi River Basin: Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

“The Shop Talks are designed for honest conversations among farmers. There are no formal presentations from ‘experts,’ so there is plenty of time for farmers to talk to each other. If you’re a farmer and you have specific questions about using conservation on your farm, this is a great place to get some answers,” said co-organizer Amanda Gumbert, Extension Water Quality Specialist with University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension.

“The mini-grants provide a unique opportunity for farmers to try something new at a small-scale that’s relatively low risk. Small practice changes can still have big impacts, and it’s often small steps that help folks make long-term changes,” said co-organizer Beth Baker, Associate Extension Professor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Aquaculture at Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Good Idea Shop Talks and Mini-Grants are the result of a collaboration between the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, and Mississippi State University Extension Service. Funding for the project is provided by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture and Walton Family Foundation. The project also benefits from a dedicated team of farmer advisors.

Both opportunities are offered through One Good Idea, an online platform that facilitates farmer-to-farmer learning about on-farm conservation practices, ranging from cover crops and no-till to prairie strips and rotational grazing. As a clearinghouse of videos and podcasts featuring farmers sharing their practical experiences with conservation practices, its goal is to help farmers find ideas that can work on their operations and increase the adoption and maintenance of conservation practices.

One Good Idea is a collaborative effort between land grant university extension and farmers in the Midwest and Mid-South. Learn more at

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Amanda Gumbert,, 859-257-6094

Beth Baker,, 662-325-7491