The professional development workshops held in conjunction with the SWCS Annual Conference will be eligible for continuing education credits from various certifying organizations. A PDF of the technical and leadership workshop descriptions is available.

Workshop #1: An Integrated Environmental, Economic, and Farm Management Decision-Making Tool: Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT)

Sunday, July 29
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Isleta Meeting Room on Lower Level West Building                                                                                                                                                  Instructors: Ali Saleh, TIAER at Tarleton State University; Mindy Selmen, USDA Office of Environmental Markets; Kannon Narayana, TIAER at Tarleton State University

The Nutrient Tracking Tool (NTT) is a user-friendly, web-based model developed by Texas Institute for Applied Environmental Research (TIAER) staff in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture. NTT estimates cost effective, eco-friendly land management operations and conservation practices associated with crop and animal production. Agricultural Policy/Environmental Extender (APEX), Farm-level Economic Model (FEM), and Animal Production Life Cycle Analysis Tool (APLCAT) are the models driving NTT.

APEX model simulates the environmental impacts of land management operations at the whole-farm and small watershed scales. FEM simulates the economic impacts of agricultural practices, conservation practices, and policies. APLCAT simulates the water footprint, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions associated with beef cattle production.

NTT includes weather, soil, and basic land management data for most of the contiguous United States. The users can enter a baseline and alternative management systems. After running the models, NTT integrates the results and produces a report showing the nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment loss potential, and crop yield differences between the baseline and alternative management systems.

Attendees of the workshop will learn how to apply APEX, FEM, and APLCAT in the NTT framework to make their own environmental, economic, and farm management decisions. Specifically, they will learn about (1) APEX, FEM, and APLCAT programs in NTT; and (2) details on how NTT works, data requirements for the models, available data with the tool, how to enter input parameters, how to run the models, and how to interpret results.
Fee: $70 early/$95 late

Workshop #2: Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model

Sunday, July 29
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Nambe Meeting Room on Lower Level West Building                                                                                                                                          Instructors: Mark Nearing, USDA-ARS; Mariano Hernandez, USDA-ARS; Jason Williams, USDA-ARS; Fred Pierson, USDA-ARS; George Peacock, Colorado State University; David Goodrich, USDA-ARS; Ken Spaeth, USDA-NRCS; S. Kossi Nouwakpo, University of Nevada; Osama Al-Hamdan, Texas A&M University-Kingsville

This workshop is designed to provide attendees background on dominant hydrologic and erosion process on rangelands, equations implemented in the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM), and how to access and interpret model predictions using examples from across the United States for different ecological and climatic conditions. Predicting soil erosion is a common practice in rangeland management for assessing the effects of management practices impacts on sustainability and soil health. RHEM was specifically designed to address rangeland conditions for estimating runoff, erosion, and sediment delivery rates and volumes at the spatial scale of the hillslope and the temporal scale of a single rainfall event. RHEM links the model’s hydrologic and erosion parameters with rangeland plant community by providing a new system of parameter estimation equations based on diverse rangeland datasets through a simple web-enabled interface. Model inputs are surface soil texture, slope length, slope steepness, slope shape, dominant plant life form, percentage of canopy cover, and percentage of ground cover by component. Climate (precipitation intensity, duration, and frequency) is estimated for sites within the United States with the CLIGEN stochastic weather generator. Attendees will need to bring a Microsoft Windows-based laptop to run the model during the workshop. The RHEM model can be accessed at RHEM scientific publications can be accessed at
Fee: $70 early/$95 late

Workshop #3: Using Compost to Build Soils, Reduce Erosion, and Improve Soil Moisture Retention

Sunday, July 29
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Navajo Meeting Room on Lower Level West Building                                                                                                                                            Instructor: Jean Bonhotal, Cornell Waste Management Institute                                                                                                                                                                       
Use of compost, a recycled product, for controlling erosion and sedimentation can reduce costs, increase effectiveness of revegetation, and promote environmental protection. Compost blankets (a layer of compost spread or blown onto a slope to a depth of 1 to 4 inches) and berms (a triangular dike of compost placed perpendicular to directed and sheet flow) have been used to reduce soil loss and improve soil moisture retention. Application of compost blankets can stabilize slopes, and compost filter berms can filter and slow the flow of moving water in ditches. 

The use of a compost blanket has been shown to reduce runoff and erosion by absorbing rainfall impact and retaining water with a slow release. The blanket can suppress weed growth, while providing a medium for germination and growth of seeded plants. Applications help remediate compacted soil and reduce crusting, facilitating percolation into underlying soil. It can be particularly useful in late season construction, controlling runoff before vegetation can be established. A virtual tour with demonstrations will illustrate the effectiveness of these these tools.

Compost filter berms offer advantages over traditional measures such as silt fences and straw bales and filter out fine particles and associated chemical contaminants from water flowing through them. They can collect large volumes of sediment without becoming clogged. Compost berms can be left in place, thus eliminating removal costs. It is recommended that such berms be used to diffuse flow above steep slopes where compost blankets are installed. 
Comparative demonstrations will be conducted of different compost properties, such as water holding capacity, organic matter content, particle size, and nutrient content.
Fee: $70 early/$95 late