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East National Technology Support Center 

In This Issue
CDSI Readiness
Join Us! Webinar Calendar
Soil Health Systems
Revised Soil Loss Equation
Food Security Act
Assistance Highlights
Employee News
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Director's Column
FY2012 - 3rd Qtr

ENTSC OfficeThe ENTSC continues to expand our training activities, and we look forward to meeting the needs of our customers by providing information that is useful and enables them to better perform their jobs. We also devoted a significant amount of staff time the past several months providing assistance for the Regional Payment Schedules.


Our Center hosted two Conservation Boot Camps this quarter with involvement from staff to provide training on soil health, engineering, irrigation water management, and CDSI progress and deployment. Each session had approximately 30 students that represented states from around the country.


The ENTSC Advisory Board met via VTC recently and encouraged our Center to continue providing the high quality service that they are accustomed to receiving. We currently have several vacancies on our staff that have impacted our ability to provide this service. For example, Gene Hardee, Agronomist, retired recently and is featured in our Employee News


The Advisory Board had an opportunity to meet with Lane Price, Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI) Team Leader, to discuss the deployment of CDSI, which greatly impacts states. CDSI will involve a significant leap from the current way we do business, but it also offers opportunities to be much more effective at providing services to our customers. The ENTSC has been involved with train-the-trainer sessions and making sure training resources are available to all staff.


The national soil health campaign has been launched, and the Soil Health and Sustainability Team is leading the effort to provide technical training and information to the states that are moving forward with this effort. One-minute videos are being developed to highlight the benefits of improved soil health. Take a sneak peak to let Ray Archuleta, Agronomist, help you "Unlock the Secrets in the Soil." Three information campaign slogans have been launched: Discover the Cover; Dig a Little, Learn a Lot; and Do Not Disturb. We are also busy developing soil health management system templates.


As always, we appreciate the opportunity to serve you - our customers!  We are striving to better serve your needs and look forward to advancing our slogan - The Science of Conservation - We Deliver!


Elvis Graves
Acting Director

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CDSI Readiness

Help is Just a Click Away  

"Technical Foundation Training" to brief States on our Agency's updated resource concerns and planning criteria, provide an overview of plan migration, and introduce basic functionality of the Conservation Delivery Streamlining Initiative (CDSI) Conservation Desktop (that replaces Customer Service Toolkit) has been provided to the East Region states. Work by States to clean up the National Conservation Planning (NCP) database in preparation for data migration is well underway as implementation of changes associated with CDSI quickly approach. At the CDSI Readiness SharePoint site, employees should visit Resource Concerns to study the updated list and download farmer-friendly information sheets for each resource concern. Training materials, including webinar recordings, presentations, and reference documents are increasingly available for CDSI's major emphasis areas, especially NCP Data Clean-up. Contact Anthony Burns, National Technology Specialist, for more information about CDSI, conservation planning, and the CDSI implementation schedule.


CDSI logo imageEach state has designated its CDSI Point of Contact (POC) to serve as a conduit of information between CDSI staff/trainers and field office employees. State POCs have two important roles: 1) reporting state progress to implement action items in the CDSI State Readiness Plan and 2) submitting questions and requests for assistance when help is needed. Both of these functions are handled at the CDSI Readiness SharePoint site. At the State POC Portal, state contacts create and update their progress record and "Ask a Question" or "Submit an Assistance Request" to receive needed help, with their questions helping others as the answers are posted to a FAQs page.


Holli Kuykendall, Ecologist, designed the CDSI Readiness site and staffs its Help Desk to support CDSI staff/trainers and to help ensure all questions and requests move through the system quickly. 


Links in this article are to the NRCS employee intranet.

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Replay Captioning... and Join Us! Webinar Calendar

Captioned Webinars and AgLearn

Drainage Water Management Awareness webinar title slideWe are pleased to announce the start of a project to caption our ENTSC webinar replays. Caption Sync provides an online service whereby webinars go up and files to embed captions come down. Captioning helps make our webinar replays accessible and 508 compliant. We think this will allow us to create a linkage between our webinar training and AgLearn for launching content and tracking employee use. Note: Follow these instructions to turn on captions in Windows Media Player.


Our first captioned webinar is Drainage Water Management Awareness delivered in August 2011 as part of the Mississippi River Basin Initiative: Role of Healthy Soils in Nutrient Management to Improve Water Quality training. This webinar was presented by agricultural water management experts representing the East, Central, and West NTSCs and the Illinois NRCS State Office. Via the Science and Technology Training Library (employee intranet), the webinar currently offers a brief post-test and training certificate to document concepts learned, but work is now underway to also offer the training through AgLearn for training management.


Our Center has prioritized webinar replays to caption and will work to caption as many of our upcoming titles as our budget allows.


Speaking of priorities, watch for our annual webinar survey that will be distributed in early October to NRCS webinar participants at the field level. Our survey offers state, area, and field office staffs an opportunity to help us pick our presentation topics. We value your input!


Webinar Dates & Topics 

08/14 - Evaluating, Establishing & Maintaining Habitat for Pollinators & Beneficial Insects 

08/21 - Use of Geophysical Methods in Agriculture 

08/29 - Design of Silage Leachate Collection and Treatment Systems

09/26 - Using the Leaching Index in RUSLE2 for Nutrient Management
10/02 - Tools for In-field Evaluations of the Nitrogen and Phosphorus Status of Corn

10/09 - Organic No-Till Systems

10/31 - Tree/Shrub Suitability Groups: Matching Woody Plants to Soils
11/28 - Manure to Energy: Thermal conversion of Animal Manures & Biomass

12/11 - Community Supported Agriculture


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View our Current Webinar Announcements 

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soil_healthSoil Health Management Systems
Emphasizing Four Soil Health Principles

Cover crops The Soil Health and Sustainability Team enlisted NRCS soil health experts from across the country to assist with the development of Soil Health Management System templates for conservation planning and program delivery. The templates use existing NRCS conservation practice standards that emphasize four basic soil health management principles:

  • minimize soil disturbance
  • add diversity to the cropping system
  • keep a living root growing throughout the year
  • maintain residue cover on the soil surface

The emphasis on each of these four planning principles in the templates will vary based on the crop-specific farming enterprise. This will allow states flexibility to adjust the individual practice criteria to accommodate specific cropping needs. The Soil Health Management Systems include "must do" conservation practices along with practices that need to be applied, as appropriate, to a specific field. We'll let you know when these templates are ready to use.

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Soil Loss Equations

Revised and Updated
cover crop stripsNRCS has an extensive history of using erosion prediction models for assessment of erosion concerns and planning associated treatments. The Agency's use of erosion prediction models began with the Universal Soil Loss Equation (USLE) in the late 1960s. With changes in technology and availability of associated data, the model has periodically been updated to provide greater precision and to better meet user needs. With the first major update, the name was changed to Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE).
Through modifications in the model and database improvement, an updated version is being finalized for release later this year. The updated version will extend the utility of the model, provide significant improvement for assessments of grazing lands, and extend use for energy assessments. The state agronomists in the respective crop management zones worked with Steve Woodruff and Gene Hardee, agronomists at the ENTSC, to complete a thorough quality review of the management types database and to complete each management description through the addition of appropriate non-soil disturbing operations, such as spraying. Contact Steve Woodruff, Agronomist, for more information.
Food Security  Act

1985 and Beyond

wetlandThe Food Security Act, which requires producer compliance with provisions for erosion control treatment on HEL and sodbusted lands and protection of wetlands to retain eligibility for most USDA benefits, was signed into law on December 23, 1985. Though the Food Security Act was first enacted more than a quarter of a century ago, the Act remains among the Nation's most significant legislation related to resource protection and continued producer viability. To ensure that NRCS state and field staff who are assigned workload related to the Food Security Act have a thorough knowledge of its provisions, the ENTSC has provided training and consultation assistance. The agronomists and biologists at the ENTSC have provided a webinar on the Food Security Act, assisted more than a half-dozen states with training of staff, and provide regular consultation on specific Food Security Act compliance issues. Requests for assistance with Food Security Act training should be directed to Elvis Graves, Acting Director.

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Assistance Highlights

Follow us on Twitter!

Follow us @USDA_NRCS_ENTSC to receive Technology Tweets. We'll let you know when we release new products, announce webinars, and know of items that will interest you. We have a growing list of followers, and it is always interesting to see which of our Tweets are re-Tweeted by NRCS offices and other partners.


East Region NTSC Service AreaTechnical Assistance Delivery

In the third quarter of FY2012, the Center provided assistance on 95 requests, of which 36 were direct assistance to states, 11 were regional, and 48 were national activities. In addition to direct assistance to the states, the Center supported 24 training events to a combined audience of more than 1,794 participants. Assistance by state is shown in the East Region NTSC Service Area map.


Visit the Science and Technology Training Library (employee intranet) for training materials, webinar replays, and to view our upcoming webinar calendar. Contact Holli Kuykendall, Ecologist, or Anthony Burns, National Technology Specialist, for more information.

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GeneEmployee News

Retirement with 41+ Years

Gene Hardee at his retirement party Gene Hardee, Agronomist, retired on July 3, 2012, and headed down I-85 to South Carolina for the final time as an NRCS employee. We wish Gene all the best, and we're so happy for him that he is back home in his native state after working at the Center and living in Greensboro weekdays for the past five years. Gene retired with more than 41 years of service under his belt and a wealth of knowledge that will challenge his replacement to live up to. Our advice to Gene, if somebody wants to take advantage of your agronomic knowledge, charge appropriately!


Fond farewell, Gene!

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