BF 112: Reading the Land

Simple and Effective Biological Monitoring Practices

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Monitoring for Change Pays Off

There is only one guarantee in agriculture or other land-based businesses: “When we improve land health we realize improvements in production, profitability, and social well-being.” So, how do we confirm and/or measure improved land health? We must learn how to read the land as we walk across it, and learn how to conduct various biological monitoring practices, from simple to more complex.

Target Audience

ALL LEVELS: Farmers, farm managers, and other landowners interested in learning how to improve land health through the power of observation, data gathering and interpretation.

Course Objectives

The primary learning objective for this course is to enable you to begin successfully understanding observations and information you can easily gather from a piece of land. This will allow you to establish a baseline of the land’s health and determine if your management decisions are moving toward what you desire for the land in terms of health and productivity.

In this course you will learn how to:

  • Make visual observations
  • Develop a monitoring transect
  • Collect data
  • Summarize and analyze the data you collect
  • Use these data to change your management to move the land toward what you want


A majority of the work is carried out on your own schedule, which can include readings, photographs, videos, graphics and PowerPoints. A key component are assignments in Teachable, our virtual classroom. To pace and coordinate the independent study there are weekly webinars during the course to allow you to learn from presenters and other students and to ask questions in real time. If you miss or wish to review any webinars, they are always recorded and posted for later viewing.

Webinar Schedule

Live instruction for 2023 has concluded. You are welcome to enroll now to complete this course on a self-paced schedule and join our next live session in Fall 2024. All webinars are recorded and posted in your online classroom to watch anytime. Once enrolled in this course, you will retain access to all materials indefinitely and may return to participate in future live offerings of the course as well. Please join us!

Your Instructor

Phil Metzger
Phil Metzger

Phil Metzger is a farm and natural resources development consultant, retired from a 31-year career as a Resource Conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Phil instructs on various topics including: biological monitoring, land planning, farm, personal & business financial planning, goal setting, and improved decision making. He is a certified educator of Holistic Management (HM) and has personally practiced HM for over 20 years.

Course Curriculum

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?
The course officially starts on the date given above, when the instructor gets involved and begins hosting live weekly webinars. If you are registering after the webinars have concluded for the year, you will have immediate access to all the course materials, and will be able to participate in the next year's webinars if you choose to.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 7 days and we will give you a full refund.

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