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News Release

Virtual Tailgates: Connecting with producers during a pandemic

By Amelia Ingle
Public Affairs Administrative Assistant

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash.  – Central Washington planners hosted a short series of "virtual tailgates" for producers in the community last week.

With the advent of Covid-19 and the arrival of new requirements for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the Central Area team needed an innovative way to address the onslaught of incoming questions while simultaneously balancing Covid restrictions.

“We did a series of two meetings, one on Nutrient Management and one on Pest Management,” explained coordinator Bob Nansel, a resource conservationist in the Waterville Service Center. “We also recorded it so that people who missed it would be able to see it.”

The first tailgate on nutrient management addressed conservation practice standard code 590, which advises producers on how to manage nutrients in the soil. The standard is based on the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship—apply the right nutrient source at the right rate at the right time in the right place—in order to improve the crops’ nutrient use efficiency and reduce nutrient losses to surface water, groundwater, and the atmosphere.

Producers responded positively to the first tailgate, and NRCS efforts to connect with the community did not go unnoticed.

“We had more producers tuning in on the 2nd session, so maybe there was some word of mouth promotion,” Nansel speculated.

The second session was about the Pest Management Conservation System and covered conservation practice standard 595; a system that combines an integrated pest management decision-making process with natural resource conservation practices to address pest and environmental impacts.

As for whether there will be more virtual tailgates in the future, Nansel is open to the idea. He believes that future meetings may be a useful way to disseminate new information as well as to reiterate old standbys.

“It always helps to hear technical details,” he shrugs. “They say it takes seven times before people get it.”

Although the future of virtual tailgates remains unclear, the series from last week has been recorded and uploaded so that both partners and staff may continue to learn from it . People interested in watching the series can find them at the following links:

Nutrient Management

Pest Management