Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Named Field to Market Spotlight Honoree

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the nonprofit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing soil health, is proud to announce it has been recognized as part of Field to Market’s 2020 Project Spotlight Series! As part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, SHI works with other members across the food and ag value chain to support farmers in improving outcomes in soil health. Field to Market recognized the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, on June 24 during its annual Plenary and General Assembly Meeting, recognizing this outstanding cross-sector partnership for advancing continuous improvements in sustainable outcomes for U.S. commodity agriculture.

Watch for an article on Field to Market’s Spotlight section of its website later this year.

OFRF and FFAR Announce Grants for Soil Health Research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are pleased to award three grants to researchers in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas to bolster soil health by developing innovative organic strategies for controlling weeds, pests, and disease. OFRF and FFAR formed a partnership in 2019 to increase funding for research that improves soil health and reduces environmental impacts.

“Developing bold strategies to mitigate pest, weed, and pathogen damage is critical to improving environmental health,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “FFAR is proud to partner with OFRF to fund innovative soil health management techniques that enhance crop productivity and support thriving farms.”

Martin Guerena with the National Center for Appropriate Technology was awarded $17,337 to measure the efficacy of biosolarization—a new innovation in the realm of weed control that combines soil solarization (trapping solar radiation under a plastic tarp) with biofumigation (using biologically-active plant substances to suppress soil-borne pests and pathogens). Biosolarization includes the incorporation of organic amendments such as compost, cover crops, and green manure under solarization plastic. The carbon from these organic materials produces chemicals with bio-pesticidal activity, which acts as a fumigant when heated by the sun to eliminate weeds, and soil-borne pests and diseases. The research team aims to show that biosolarization can achieve equal or better weed control in less time compared to solarization alone. The research is taking place on three organic farms in the Sacramento Valley in northern California.

Read the full release here.

New Publication Connects Soil and Human Health

A recent publication by Brevik et. al. titled Soil and Human Health: Current Status and Future Needs looks at how soil health and human health are connected.

The publication, available through Air, Soil and Water Research, introduces the concept that soil health is a key social determinant of health and explores the current status of soil pollution, soil microorganisms, and soil macroorganisms to human health, as well as nutrient supply from the soil. The article also establishes the need for communication with the public on the connection between soil and human health.

The article cites the Soil Health Institute’s Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health, during which scientists and organization leaders developed 10 research recommendations to advance both science and policy communications between soil health and human health.