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Plant Materials Centers Support Service Center Staff

Plant Materials Centers (PMC) function as valuable training sites for Service Center Staff.  PMCs provide the rare opportunity for ‘hands on’ learning about or with agricultural operations for NRCS staff. This becomes increasingly important as many new hires do not necessarily come from agricultural backgrounds.  

Farming operations are increasingly complex and training activities are being leveraged to provide practical experience concerning agricultural equipment, use of cover crops, management for soil health, and irrigation water management.  The southwestern Plant Materials Centers located in Tucson, AZ, Lockeford, CA, Los Lunas, NM, and Fallon, NV have held numerous trainings at their facilities for both NRCS staff, Technical Service Providers and Producers. As PMCs are in different ecoregions, their infrastructure and equipment are adapted to the farming systems used in their local areas. This local adaptation with equipment and irrigation systems is especially helpful to train staff who transfer from other areas. Customer service improves as staff have a better understanding of the needs of their client’s operations.  

In the foreground is a plot of sunflowers with large blooms and yellow petals facing the camera, groups of producers and NRCS stand looking at the warm season cover crop plots under a clear blue sky.
Warm Season Cover Crop Field Day held at the Lockeford Plant Materials Center in August 2018. There were 60 attendees including Service center staff, who brought producers to the event.

The southwestern PMCs have held a variety of trainings including:

  • Cover Crop Training, cool and warm season (AZ, CA, NM and NV)
  • Farming with Native Beneficial Insects in collaboration with the Xerces Society (AZ, CA)
  • Soil Health Training field sessions for NEDC (AZ, CA and NV)
  • Orientation for New Employees session on the Plant Materials Program (AZ, CA​  Range and Pasture Seeding Training and Workshops (CA, NM)
  • Revegetation Planning in Response to Burned Areas (NM)
  • Optimal Spacing and Maintenance for Riparian Cutting Block Establishment (NM)

Training sessions are organized in collaboration with State and Area Offices, so contact your local PMC or Plant Materials Committee to request a training session on any of the above topics or other Plant Materials Training Needs.

Tucson Plant Materials Center, Tucson, AZ NRCS students watch trainer in plaid shirt and hat standing by rainfall simulator with grass and bare soil to demonstrate erosion into glass jars once water is applied.
Xerces class participants hunt for beneficial insects in the Tucson PMC fields   Rain Fall simulator demonstration, to show the effect of cover on preventing erosion, as part of NEDC Soil Health Training at the Fallon NV PMC.