March 30: Science of Soil Health Webinar Series

The Science of Soil Health & Why It Matters

Healthy soils are essential for healthy plant growth, but did you also know they play a role sequestering carbon and cleaning our waterways?

Please join us for an introductory discussion on soil health science.  We will explore the basics of soil health management systems – including common practices, measurement/assessment approaches, and associated co-benefits.  This program is intended for funders new to the topic of soil health or those interested in better understanding the connection between soil health and climate change and clean water.

We will first hear from the Soil Health Institute (SHI), an independent, nonprofit organization charged with coordinating soil stewardship and advancing soil health; focusing on fundamental and applied research.  SHI will discuss the basics of soil health science, including what we know and don’t know about co-benefits for water quality, carbon, economics, etc. and the approaches to measuring and assessing soil health.

We will then be joined by the Virginia Office of the USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  NRCS has worked for more than 80 years in close partnerships with farmers and ranchers, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes.  NRCS will cover practical soil health management systems to achieve and increase healthy soils.

This program takes place March 30 at 11:00am PT, will last approximately 90-minutes and conclude with a funder-only discussion.





  • March 30, 2018
  • 2:00pm ET

Register Now

Manure and Soil Health (MaSH) Working Group

Soil Health Institute Announces Literature and Reviews of Information
Relating Soil Health to Use of Animal Manures and Municipal Biosolids

Students and their mentors have summarized existing knowledge of manure management’s impact on soil health.

The MaSH project is designed to facilitate assembly and distribution of knowledge on the role of manure in soil health improvement.

The Manure and Soil Health (MaSH) Working Group was formed in 2016 through funding from a North Central Region Water Network (NCRWN) Extension and Capacity-Building Seed Funding Grant. The NCRWN is a 12-state collaboration among Extension water resource professionals and university, federal, state, NGO and industry partners.

The MaSH project is designed to facilitate assembly and distribution of the current state of knowledge on the role of manure in soil health improvement. As a component of this project, three mini-grants, each up to $4,000, were awarded to support post-doc, graduate or undergraduate student appointments to summarize the existing science and databases related to the role of manure in promoting soil health.

Distribution of mini-grants to students and their mentor(s) supported the project’s intent to collate information that the MaSH project team can use to identify existing knowledge and research gaps. In addition to producing a written scientific summary of the information reviewed, each mini-grant project was tasked with developing a high-quality summary of relevant information suitable for farmers and ranchers as well as their advisors. Leveraging of the NCRWN funding with local resources is encouraged and will be considered in selection of funded mini-grants.

The Soil Health Institute provided a supplement of $1,000 to each of the MaSH mini-grant awardees in return for permission to post the reports prepared for the MaSH Working Group on the Institute’s website and include the literature citations in the Soil Health Research Landscape Tool.

SHI is pleased to thank the MaSH Working Group and the grant recipients for their excellent partnership.

The final products of these MaSH mini-grant projects are now available and can be accessed here.

For more information on the MaSH Working Group, please visit

The Next Food Phrase Big Brands are Banking On

Regenerative Agriculture is a bit of a mouthful compared to “organic,” but there’s a good reason why consumers should familiarize themselves with the term: It will start appearing on food labels as a way for brands to demonstrate they work with farmers dedicated to healthy soil.

On Tuesday, Annie’s Homegrown, Inc., known for its white cheddar macaroni and cheese, announced it has partnered with Montana farmers who use regenerative agricultural practices. The farmers grow crops — including wheat, peas and oats — that are later developed into limited-edition noodles and graham cracker snacks for Annie’s. The farmers’ names and crops will appear on each limited-edition Annie’s box.

On Wednesday, DanoneWave, a multinational food company that includes brands like Oikos and Dannon, also announced its commitment to exploring regenerative agriculture and soil health within the next year and a half. Dannon, Annie’s and Ben and Jerry’s are working together to create a verification system for food grown using regenerative agriculture, Farm Forum reported Wednesday. If they succeed, products would likely display a seal like the “USDA Organic” one.

This move could help reverse climate change

Regenerative agriculture is synonymous with soil health, Byron Rath, communications specialist for the Soil Health Institute, said in an email, explaining that soil health is a holistic term. Healthy soil helps filter water, provide nutrition to crops and can also help purify and clean the air.

Healthy soil can play a large role in preventing or reversing climate change. The ability of soil to hold water can help “build resilience to drought and extreme precipitation,” Rath explained. The “soil organic carbon” in a given field of crops can influence how much water the soil can retain. “Farming practices such as no-till, cover crops and crop rotation have proven effective at increasing [soil organic carbon], thereby restoring a soil’s resilience,” Rath said. The process of allowing healthy soil to store carbon from the atmosphere is known as carbon sequestration.

Read the Full Article here:

Position Opening

Assistant Professor of Soil Health; School of Natural Resources;

College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources; University of Missouri;

Starting Date: August 2018, or as negotiated

Responsibilities: This is a tenure-track position in the School of Natural Resources ( at the University of Missouri (MU). The successful candidate will develop an exciting and high-impact, nationally/internationally recognized, externally-funded research program that complements institutional strengths in soil health and microbiology. The selected candidate will also serve as Director of the MU Soil Health Assessment Center, a leading national soil health testing service and research laboratory employing several staff members. With this position, MU will better occupy a place among a select group of universities that boast a truly integrated and multidisciplinary approach to teaching, research, and actionable scholarship in the fields of sustainable agriculture and environmental quality. The position will strengthen growing education programs, collaborate with other established MU research centers to garner major grants, form innovative new partnerships with private and public partners, and contribute greatly toward improving grant and publication metrics considered in the Association of American Universities’ (AAU) rankings. Teaching may include undergraduate courses in land management for soil health, environmental soil microbiology, and graduate courses related to the individual’s expertise (total of 3-4 courses per year). This position will complement and collaborate with faculty in: the School of Natural Resources; the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) (e.g., Plant Sciences, Bioengineering, Biochemistry); and other colleges and departments across the MU campus (e.g., Biology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geology, Veterinary Pathology). Collaborative efforts will also develop through oversight of the MU Soil Health Assessment Center and participation in the CAFNR Center for Watershed Management and Water Quality, MU Metagenomics Center, MU Center for Agroforestry, the Interdisciplinary Plant Group (IPG) and with federal scientists employed by the USDA-Agricultural Research Service’s Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit and

U.S. Forest Service Unit housed on the MU campus.

Qualifications: Ph.D. in Soil Science or a closely related discipline. Preferred qualifications include: a strong background in soil health and measurement of soil health indicators; demonstrated ability to integrate soil biological, chemical, and physical indicators of soil health with landscape properties to provide clients with science-based recommendations; experience with analytical procedures and the daily operations of a soil analytical laboratory; experience using metagenomic, metatranscriptomic, and/or metabolomic approaches for studying soil microbiota; postdoctoral experience; a strong record of impactful peer-reviewed publications; teaching experience and training; and a level of grantsmanship that reflects high productivity relative to the applicant’s career stage. The area of expertise should complement existing institutional strengths in contemporary soil and environmental sciences. The candidate should have a demonstrated interest in working with state and federal agencies and other private and public stakeholders. Female and minority applicants are strongly encouraged to apply.

About MU: MU, the flagship institution in the University of Missouri System, has nearly 31,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It is a land grant institution and a member of the Association of American Universities. Located midway between St. Louis and Kansas City, Columbia is a vibrant small city that is consistently ranked among the top such places to live in across America. The School of Natural Resources awards Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Natural Resources with emphases in multiple sub-disciplines and three B.S. degrees (Environmental Sciences; Natural Resources Science and Management; and Parks, Recreation and Sport).

Detailed information about the programs and faculty is available at The School operates many laboratory and greenhouse facilities and has access to extensive field areas available within CAFNR’s Farms and Centers Network ( The School has robust collaborative ties to state and federal agencies charged with managing natural resources and numerous opportunities are available to access and conduct research on the extensive and diverse public lands surrounding Columbia.

Application: To apply for this position, please visit the MU web site at Please submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, narrative of teaching philosophy (approximately 2 pages), narrative of current and future research interests (approximately 2 pages), and the names and contact information of three references. Review of applications will begin on March 26, 2018 and will continue until the position is filled. For additional information about the position, please contact Dr. Keith Goyne, Chair of Search Committee (

Benefit Eligibility: This position is eligible for University benefits. The University offers a comprehensive benefits package, including medical, dental and vision plans, retirement, and educational fee discounts. For additional information on University benefits, please visit the Faculty & Staff Benefits website at

Equal Employment Opportunity: The University of Missouri is an equal access, equal opportunity, affirmative action employer that is fully committed to achieving a diverse faculty and staff (equal opportunity/access/affirmative action/pro-disabled and veteran employer). For more information, call the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resource Services/Affirmative Action officer at 573-882-4256.

The University of Missouri is fully committed to achieving the goal of a diverse and inclusive academic community of faculty, staff and students. We seek individuals who are committed to this goal and our core campus values of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence.

To request ADA accommodations, please call Human Resource Services at 573-882-7976. TTY users, please call through Relay Missouri, 1-800-RELAY (735-2966) or en Español at 1-800- 520-7309.

MU makes available to applicants a security report of crimes that occurred on campus over the previous three years. For a copy of this report, contact the University Police Department at (573) 882-5923 or access their web site at:

Bipartisan Bill Will Strengthen Agricultural Data Analysis

AGree’s Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force applauds new legislation to analyze impacts of farm practices

Today, Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, introduced the Agriculture Data Act of 2018 to strengthen data management and analysis. AGree’s Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force thanks Senators Thune and Klobuchar for their leadership on this important issue. The new legislation will increase understanding about how farm-based conservation practices impact farm and ranch profitability, soil health, crop yields, and risk.

The Agriculture Data Act of 2018 builds upon recommendations developed by AGree’s Conservation and Crop Insurance Task Force (task force), a group of leading researchers, academics, former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) leaders, producers, and representatives from farm-based and environmental NGOs. The task force has worked since 2013 to develop innovative strategies to remove roadblocks and increase adoption of conservation practices through federal crop insurance and conservation programs.

Read the full press release here.