Soil Health Institute Announces Pedometrics/Pedology Position

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) is seeking to hire a Project Scientist on a one-year contract to contribute to the Institute’s program in promoting the adoption of soil health systems by farmers and ranchers. Specifically, this project has the aim of creating a spatially explicit map of soil health potential for agricultural soils across the United States and to pilot a “reference state” concept for establishing locally relevant soil health targets. The successful scientist will develop algorithms using USDA NRCS soil information, pedological principles, and spatial covariate coverages to identify groupings of similar soils, locations of potential reference soils, and contribute to creating soil health targets.

The Project Scientist will lead deployment of pilot projects located in multiple states and will be part of a team of scientists at the Soil Health Institute that are geographically dispersed. Successful completion of the project will include development of theory, creation of maps, soil sampling and analyses, and submission of peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts as well as non-technical project reporting. Depending upon the candidate, this 1-year position may be staffed at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, or at a remote location (university, federal or private facility) as mutually agreed upon by the SHI, respective location administration, and the successful candidate.

Read more here.

ESMC September News

ESMC Holds an Event at Climate Week NYC
ESMC, ADM, the Illinois Corn Growers Association, GROWMARK, and a farmer from Illinois held an event at Climate Week NYC on September 25. The webinar focused on farmer economics and climate smart agriculture, and featured supply chain partners who discussed an ESMC pilot project on 10,000 corn and soy acres in Illinois. View the recording here (password is EBJ?0@jB).

Participation in National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) “Cattlemen to Cattlemen” Program
On September 22, ESMC’s Cassie Aherin participated in a televised panel discussion on how beef producers and corn growers are working closely together to build the sustainability of both enterprises. Brandon Hunnicutt, a board member of ESMC Legacy Partner National Corn Growers Association, and member of ESMC’s Producer Circle, joined Cassie in the discussion. View the discussion here.

Read the full newsletter here.

New Study Used 3D Scans to Quantify Soil Structure

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announces a recent publication co-authored by SHI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Cristine Morgan, and Research Scientist, Dr. Dianna Bagnall is now available, open source, in Geoderma.

“An in situ method for quantifying tillage effects on soil structure using multistripe laser triangulation” describes the development of a novel procedure for rapid soil structure analysis in the field. The paper shows that 3D scans can measure the effect of tillage on soil structure in Vertisols.

Soil structure is an essential physical property and measure of soil health degraded by soil tillage, but methods for quantifying soil structure are both few and time-consuming. The new method quantified soil structure quickly (15 min of scanning per A horizon exposure) in the field. Additionally, the method detected differences in soil structure that resulted from the adoption of no-till, showing that no-till fields had soil structure more like that of perennial grass fields than conventionally tilled fields.

The paper was co-authored by Dianna K. Bagnall, Edward J. Jones, Sarah Balke, Cristine L.S. Morgan, and Alex B. McBratney.
The authors would like to acknowledge support by the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture [2018-67019-27975] and the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Soil Survey. The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA, NIFA, or NRCS.

Access the publication now at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016706119321354.

Soil Health Institute Releases 5th Annual Meeting Videos

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released information-packed videos of speaker presentations from its 5th Annual Meeting.

Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture was held July 30-31, 2020, as a virtual forum with 28 speakers advancing opportunities to address climate change, water quality, food production, biodiversity, and many other pressing issues by improving soil health. Presentations addressed the actionable potential of soil health, including preliminary suggestions on how the agricultural industry can measure soil function in the future and the role of farmers and ranchers in combating global climate change and its impacts. In addition, 26 researchers provided three-minute video research presentations and discussed their research with online attendees.

Soil health leaders discussed key drivers of soil health adoption. The keynote was provided by Jay Watson, Sourcing Sustainability Engagement Manager at General Mills, Inc., who leads General Mills, Inc.’s greenhouse gas reduction and regenerative agriculture commitments.

SHI evaluated more than 30 different indicators of soil health in order to provide the agricultural industry with a short list of the most effective measurements farmers and ranchers can use to improve soil health. Moreover, SHI scientists described projects to evaluate the profitability of soil health systems; a farmer-led soil health training program; and research on how soil health relates to water quality, carbon sequestration, and drought resilience.

During the meeting, soil health leaders discussed new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that have an impact on the U.S. soil health movement. Farmers reviewed soil health practices that provide a demonstrated return on investment. Finally, speakers looked towards the future, identifying benefits that may arise from better understanding the soil microbiome.

Videos of annual meeting presentations are available here.

Noble Research Institute’s 75th Anniversary

The Soil Health Institute congratulates the Noble Research Institute on its 75th anniversary. The need for such an organization to assist farmers and ranchers with regenerating their soils, building drought resilience, and managing lands sustainably is arguably even more urgent today than it was when first established in 1945. The Soil Health Institute is honored to be a partner on that journey, contributing to the vision of Lloyd Noble for advancing agriculture and land stewardship for current and future generations.

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of Noble Research Institute and the beginning of a year-long celebration of agricultural producers, the land that provides for our collective well-being, and the organization’s future.

Since its founding in 1945, Noble Research Institute has supported farmers and ranchers through education, research and consultation as they steward the nation’s grazing lands and soil.

Founder and philanthropist Lloyd Noble created his organization as a resource to work beside individuals to rebuild the soil and provide lasting stability for an economy in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl.

Read the full article here: https://www.noble.org/news/releases/noble-research-institute-celebrates-75-years/

Ducks Unlimited Receives Grant for Prairie Pothole Region

BROOKINGS, S.D. (Ducks Unlimited) – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today Ducks Unlimited (DU) and partners have been awarded a $8.73 million NRCS Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) grant to develop a producer-focused program, named Scaling Soil Health in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR).

The program will offer farmers and ranchers technical and financial assistance, advanced training and mentorship to increase the adoption of soil health practices in the PPR of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.

“This is a significant growth opportunity for DU’s conservation program to help more producers in the prairies access the education and financial support they need to adopt soil health practices,” DU Chief Conservation Officer Karen Waldrop said. “Along with our partners, we look forward to working with interested farmers and ranchers to help them improve soil quality and wildlife habitat on their lands and produce positive economic results as well.”

Read the full story here: https://www.newsdakota.com/2020/09/18/ducks-unlimited-receives-grant-for-prairie-pothole-region/

New Digital Tool Provides Scientific Data and Curated Insights on Conservation Farming Practices

Our partners at TNC have developed a data visualization tool to convey the on-farm and environmental effects of conservation practices as documented in the literature.

Scientists from conservation and academic institutions have launched AgEvidence, a visualization dashboard of data from nearly 300 peer-reviewed research papers and curated expert insights derived from those studies. The research compiled in AgEvidence focuses on the environmental and agronomic impacts of cover crops, tillage management, pest management, and nutrient management practices used in growing corn and/or soybean crops in the Midwest.

AgEvidence was created by Lesley Atwood, Ph.D., and Stephen Wood, Ph.D., as part of the Managing Soil Carbon working group of the Science for Nature and People Partnership. SNAPP is a partnership of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Read the full story here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/agevidence-tool-launched/

Can Loans Tied To Soil Health Save Agriculture?

America’s soil health is in dire straits and a new investment fund, rePlant Capital, has been formed to help clove the crisis with capitalism by tying interest rates for farm loans to improvements in soil’s carbon and water storage as a way to save farmers from the disastrous impacts of climate change.

A third of the country’s topsoil has eroded in the past 50 years, part of a warning from the United Nations in 2015 that predicts soil degradation will be one of the central threats to human health in the coming decades. Farmers are seeking to regenerate soil after decades of misuse from chemical fertilizers and herbicides, but transitioning to less harsh farming practices is costly, and nature cannot solve the problem according to human timeline, requiring 500 years or more to create an inch of fresh topsoil under natural conditions.

Read the full story here: https://www.forbes.com/sites/chloesorvino/2020/09/11/can-loans-tied-to-soil-health-save-agriculture-a-new-250-million-fund-wants-to-find-out/#605f42641f0b

Five Projects Split $860,000 to Further Grow Natural Climate Solutions in U.S.

Through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, today The Nature Conservancy’s Natural Climate Solutions Accelerator program is announcing the award of $860,000 to be split among five projects designed to help scale climate change mitigation by capturing and storing carbon on natural and working lands in the U.S.  The five recipients are part of the third round of grantees for the Accelerator program, which has awarded over $2.5 million dollars to fifteen climate projects around the country.

The 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 1.5 degrees Celsius Report provided additional urgent wake-up calls on the need for ambitious and innovative climate action to achieve a low carbon economy and accelerate removal of greenhouse gases already emitted into the atmosphere.

Read the full story here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/newsroom/natural-climate-solutions-accelerator-round-3/

General Mills Partnership with Gunsmoke Farms

General Mills today announced Gunsmoke Farms has received organic certification by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organics Program. Gunsmoke, a 34,000-acre farm outside of Pierre, South Dakota, had been managed conventionally for more than three decades before its transition to organic over the last three years using regenerative agriculture practices. The combination of cover crops, a diverse crop rotation, keeping a living root in the ground year round and minimizing tillage were instrumental in restoring the land to a holistic farming system that now grows spring wheat, winter wheat, alfalfa, oats, peas and Kernza.

“General Mills has been on our soil health journey since 2016 and working with Gunsmoke Farms solidified our belief that regenerative agriculture can be a transformative lever for farmers to be a part of the climate solution,” said Mary Jane Melendez, chief sustainability and social impact officer for General Mills. “This type of long-term, direct contracting is unprecedented for General Mills and the industry. If we truly aim to be a force for good, our role is to give farmers the tools to be more resilient – both environmentally and financially.”

Read the full story here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200917005094/en/General-Mills-Partnership-with-Gunsmoke-Farms-to-Transition-34000-Acres-of-Conventional-Farmland-to-Organic-Culminates-with-USDA-Certification