ESMC Newsletter May, 2020

Executive Director Update on May 2020 ESMC/ESMRC Member Meeting

Thanks to all members who participated in our fourth ESMC/ESMRC Member Meeting on May 11–12, 2020. We had just under 90 participants each of the two days and appreciate the participation, discussions and input received. Our previous 3 member meetings, beginning with the first in August of 2019, were held in-person, and this was our first to be held in a virtual setting in a shift to accommodate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response. We began with an acknowledgment that the COVID response has created upheaval for us all, personally and professionally, as well as within the food and agricultural sector, and we recognize the need to remain sensitive and cognizant of the impacts and associated uncertainty to our individual and collective efforts moving forward. But we did agree that our goals and outcomes remain critical.

Our meetings allow us to update members on progress across a range of ESMC and ESMRC program areas. According to member meeting evaluations, the meeting highlights were the two panel discussions covering pilot projects and the activities of technical working groups. Organized and moderated by Program Director Caroline Wade, these discussions provided insight into the ESMRC investments being made to build ESMC’s market, as well as to show how pilot project work will test and refine those investments and continue to refine the ESMC market program. Thanks to the many members and technical working group members who participated in the two panels.

An additional highlight was rollout of our new strategic marketing plan by the Trust in Food and Farm Journal Team, including Nate Birt, Stephanie Gable and Kristi Moss, in a session covering ESMC’s communications update and moderated by Bruce Knight of Strategic Conservation Solutions. We continued discussions with members of our asset and credit pricing structure assessment and planning as well, which we will test as part of our pilot projects.

Finally, we were pleased to announce the addition of four new ESMC team members: Deke Alkire, Program Development Manager working on technical assistance and verification manuals and certification program development; Cassie Kniebel Aherin, Project Manager and lead for pilot project development and coordination as well as Producer Circle development; Benjamin Bartley, Project Manager and lead for protocol adaptation and refinement and certification; and Paul Meints, Research Director supporting ESMRC technical working groups and R&D oversight. (See below for more on our new team members.)

As we enter our second year of our Public-Private Partnership with our members, partners, stakeholders and funders, we also publicly thanked our funders for their ongoing support, including recent awards by the Walton Family Foundation and General Mills, Inc. to fund critical ESMC operational needs.

Regards, and thanks again to our members and collaborators for your continued support and participation.
– Debbie Reed and the ESMC Team

Read the full newsletter here.

Registration for SHI’s 5th Annual Meeting Now Open

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) opened registration today for its 5th Annual Meeting, “Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture.” The event will be July 30-31, 2020 and will be virtual this year. There is no cost to attend the event, but registration is required.

Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture is a free, 2-day virtual event. Join to advance the opportunity that improving soil health offers to address climate change, water quality, food production, biodiversity, and many other pressing issues.

The event will include Plenary Sessions from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), as well as a Video Poster Session from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 (Noon) p.m. (Eastern Time) on both days. More details on the full agenda and the Video Poster Session will be available in the coming weeks.

Register for the event through the registration form, available here. More information is available on the conference webpage, or contact SHI at

If you are interested in becoming an event sponsor, please contact Sheldon Jones.

SHI Publishes Strategy for Evaluating Soil Health Measurements

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announces the first publication on the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements (NAPESHM) is now available, open source, in Agronomy Journal.

“Introducing the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements” describes the rationale, approach, and methods used in this continental-scale, collaborative soil health research project conducted by SHI. The paper documents the core strategic design, soil health measurements being evaluated, methods used, and sites participating in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The overall goal of the project is to identify the most effective measures of soil health across a wide range of climates, production systems, management practices, and inherent soil properties. The paper also provides other researchers and stakeholders a clear roadmap for obtaining results relevant to the database being developed and offers a reference for protocols used by SHI.

The paper was co-authored by Charlotte E. Norris, G. Mac Bean, Shannon B. Cappellazzi, Michael Cope, Kelsey L.H. Greub, Daniel Liptzin, Elizabeth L. Rieke, Paul W. Tracy, Cristine L.S. Morgan, and C. Wayne Honeycutt.

SHI would like to thank the NAPESHM Scientists for spearheading the effort, as well as more than 80 Partnering Scientists from across academia, federal agencies, and the private sector who are making this project possible. SHI also thanks the project’s funders: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills, for their generosity.

Future papers will describe the results of SHI’s evaluation of approximately 30 soil health indicators across North America.

Access the publication now through the Agronomy Journal.