ATTRA Tutorials

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. And we’ve 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.

⇒ Produce Safety

produce safety tutorial This 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 help you become better-informed to reduce the food safety risks on your farm and ensure the long-term success of your operation. Go →

⇒ Soil Health

soil health tutorial Go → This tutorial includes the following lessons:

  • Soils Introduction This introduction provides an overview of the types of practices that maintain and perhaps even increase the health of your soils. In addition, it provides some compelling reasons, both economic and environmental, to implement the types of practices that support soil health–it’s basically about investing in the most important piece of “capital equipment” you have on the farm–the soil. This lesson will also cover some of the considerations that need to be taken into account when embarking on the path of soil stewardship. This journey is all about better understanding the ecology of your soils, and what you can do to support that ecology, which in turn will provide dividends in a healthier, more resilient cropping system.
  • On Farm Soil Health Assessment Healthy, functioning soils are productive with less outside inputs of fertility and pesticides. This lesson will teach farmers and ranchers several different on-farm soil assessments they can quickly and easily perform to determine the level of health in their soil. How soils function and symptoms of soil dysfunction will be discussed. The assessments also help to diagnose the cause of these symptoms of poorly functioning soil. The lesson concludes with a discussion of the five soil health principles and the ways those principles will regenerate soil health.

Go →

⇒ Farm Energy Efficiency

wind energy This 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. Go → This tutorial includes the following lessons:

  • Introduction to Energy Efficiency
  • Farm Building Efficiency
  • Outdoor Lighting
  • Irrigation Efficiency
  • Solar Electricity
  • Small Scale Wind
  • Biodiesel

⇒ Managed Grazing

Photo: Shady Maple Farm Have 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:

  • Introduction to Managed Grazing
  • Grazing Management: Inventory
  • Managed Grazing Infrastructure
  • Managing the Mature Stand
  • Intensifying Managed Grazing
  • Stockpiling Grass
  • Fertility: Building Healthy Pasture Soils
  • Monitoring Your Pasture

⇒ Sustainable Irrigation: a Beginner’s Guide

Sustainable Irrigation 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. Go →

⇒ Scaling Up for Regional Markets

taking your farm to the next level 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. Go →

The following lessons are included for the certificate:

  • Introduction
  • Are you Ready to Scale Up?
  • Planning for Profit
  • Marketing
  • Land Access
  • Equipment & Infrastructure
  • Wholesale Readiness
  • Livestock Part 1 – Wholesale & Marketing
  • Livestock Part 2 – Processing
  • Recordkeeping & Invoicing

Additional lessons and case studies:

  • Adding a Fruit Enterprise
  • Adding a Livestock Enterprise
  • Crop Planning for Vegetable Growers
  • Value Added Products
  • Case Study: Johnson’s Backyard Garden
  • Case Study: Hubs to Schools
  • Case Study: Bon Appétit – Farm to Institution

⇒ Ecological Pest Management

Cucumber Beetle 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. Go →

Beginning Farmer Tutorials

⇒ 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.