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Soil Health Institute Releases Comprehensive Strategy

“The Soil Health Institute today released its comprehensive strategy for enhancing soil health at the 4th Annual Meeting of the Soil Health Institute in Sacramento, Calif.

“An abundance of research shows that practices designed to improve soil health also reduce nutrient loss to waterways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration, increase biodiversity, and provide many other benefits.

“”To achieve such goals at scale, we must provide our land managers, primarily farmers and ranchers, with the information they need when deciding whether to adopt soil health-promoting practices,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “That means a key component of our strategy is to assess the impacts of soil health adoption on profitability and economic risk. Another is to identify the most effective measurements for soil health because farmers cannot be expected to manage what they cannot measure. We then need to provide workshops on locally-relevant management practices proven by other farmers to work for them,” Honeycutt says. In addition, Honeycutt described how information must be supported by a strong research and development program that producers, policy analysts, and society can trust.”

Read the full story here: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/soil-health-institute-releases-comprehensive-strategy-for-soil-health-300884524.html

Remote Sensing Technology Drives Conservation Solutions

Today marks the first release of regional-scale data from the Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS), a new tool that has the potential to unlock conservation solutions for a variety of food and agricultural supply chain stakeholders. These data document the level of adoption of soil health practices for Illinois, Indiana  and Iowa from 2005 to 2018. By the end of July, the same data will be available for the entire Corn Belt—an area extending from eastern Ohio to eastern Kansas and Nebraska, and from the Missouri Bootheel to the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

OpTIS, developed by Applied GeoSolutions (AGS), analyzes remotely sensed images of the landscape, automatically identifying and quantifying the proportion of cropland that is managed with various types of conservation tillage practices and winter cover crops each year. AGS, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have spearheaded the development, testing and application of OpTIS.

“In the past, we have relied on data from cost share programs to measure conservation practice adoption, but we know most farmers implement conservation practices on their own,” said Ben Gleason, sustainable program manager, Iowa Corn Growers Association. “Utilizing remote sensing technology that is ground-truthed allows us to see the entire picture of conservation practice adoption, and the results show that we are making progress.”

Read the Full Story Here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/explore/newsroom/remote-sensing-technology-drives-conservation-solutions/

Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Across Asset Classes

“Soil Wealth” is what we call the constellation of benefits associated with building both soil health and community wealth through regenerative agriculture.

As the investment community in the United States, particularly within the fields of sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing, shows an increasing appetite for investing in sustainable agriculture and food systems across asset classes, a subset of investors is demonstrating growing interest in financing not simply “sustainable” agriculture but agriculture that is deemed explicitly “regenerative.”

What “regenerative” means for farmers and investors remains highly in flux, but broadly it refers to holistic approaches to agricultural systems that work with natural systems to restore, improve, and enhance the biological vitality, carrying capacity, and “ecosystem services” of farming landscapes. Regenerative farming operations also aim to support the resilience of the rural communities and broader value chains in which they are situated.

Read the full story here: http://www.croataninstitute.org/soilwealth

Soil Health Institute releases progress report on adoption of soil health practices


The Soil Health Institute (SHI) has released PROGRESS REPORT: Adoption of Soil Health Systems Based on Data from the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture. The analysis includes a state-by-state breakdown of both cover crops and no-till production.

The 2017 Census of Agriculture was released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on April 11, 2019. The Census represents the most thorough overall assessment of a number of agricultural metrics that is conducted in the United States. Due to the time and expense involved with the Census, it is conducted only once every five years. Periodically, new questions are added, such as a question on cover crop acres that appeared for the first time in 2012 and was repeated in 2017.

In relation to soil health-promoting practices, the main data that the Census provides is on use of cover crops and tillage. Census respondents were asked how many acres of cover crops they planted in 2017 (and 2012), and from that response, the number of farm operations with cover crops was also determined. For tillage, respondents were asked how many acres they had of no-till, conservation tillage, or conventional tillage. Overall, the 2017 Census of Agriculture showed considerable progress with soil health practices from 2012 to 2017, with 5 million additional acres of cover crops and 8 million additional acres of no-till in the U.S.

This report provides several tables and maps that were generated by extracting data from the online Census of Agriculture data sets and then analyzing or ranking the data to provide insights into progress with soil health practices, specifically cover crops and no-till.

The report was developed by Rob Myers, Ph.D., a University of Missouri agronomist and Co-chair of the Soil Health Institute Policy Action Team, and Joe LaRose, a University of Missouri extension associate.

For further information, click here.

Terraton Initiative to Pay Farmers to Bank Carbon in the Soil

Start-up agtech company Indigo Agriculture has put the agriculture sector in the unusual position of climate savior with its recently announced Terraton Initiative: a global effort to remove one trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to enrich agricultural soils.

Boston-based Indigo Ag, earning the top spot on CNBC’s 2019 Disruptor 50 List, is counting on farmers like Will Harris of White Oak Pastures in Georgia to unlock agriculture’s potential as part of the solution to climate change. The grass-fed cattle at Harris’ 3200-acre farm sequester more carbon than they produce, as TriplePundit reported last month.

The regenerative agriculture practices that Harris deploys helps to pull carbon from the air and store it in the soil as well as make the land more resilient to extreme weather events. Methods include no-till, cover cropping, crop diversity, integrating livestock and maintaining a living root year-round.

“The ability to sequester carbon in the soil is the only thing that can take place at the right scale to solve a one trillion-ton problem, and it’s executable today; it does not depend on moonshot technology, and it’s reasonably affordable. It just comes down to us; if as a society we make a decision, we can do this,” David Perry, Indigo CEO told AgFunder News.

Read the Full Story Here: https://www.triplepundit.com/story/2019/terraton-initiative-pay-farmers-bank-carbon-soil/83991

Soil Health Institute Names Dr. Wes Wood to Board of Directors

“The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced that Dr. C. Wesley (Wes) Wood, Professor of Soil and Water Science and Center Director of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences West Florida Research and Education Center, will join its Board of Directors.

“”Dr. Wood has conducted research in 17 countries and is a highly respected leader in the soil science community. He will be an excellent addition to our Board of Directors, and we look forward to benefiting from his insight,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of SHI.

“Prior to joining the University of Florida in 2014, Dr. Wood was a Professor of Soil Science at Auburn University where he taught and conducted research on carbon and nutrient cycling in managed and natural ecosystems. He has published more than 140 journal articles on those and related topics.

“Dr. Wood has conducted research in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Tanzania, Ecuador, India, Brazil, South Africa, Kenya, Peru, Thailand, Honduras, Mexico, The Philippines, Haiti, New Zealand, and the United States. He served as Associate Editor and later as the Soil Science Technical Editor for the Agronomy Journal. He has received numerous awards for his research, is a Fellow of the American Society of Agronomy, and is also a Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America.”

Read the full release here: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/42081-Soil-Health-Institute-Names-Dr-Wes-Wood-to-Board-of-Directors

Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan

Regenerative Design Group has been awarded a contract to lead a robust planning process for protecting and enhancing all soils across Massachusetts. The Project Team includes Linnean Solutions, a Cambridge, MA-based firm that helps communities and organizations reach sustainability and resilience goals; Eric Toensmeier, carbon farming expert and contributor to Project Drawdown; Caro Roszell, Soil Carbon Program Manager at NOFA/Mass; and Marty Dagoberto, Policy Director at NOFA/Mass, and contributor to the proposed MA Healthy Soils Program now being considered by the legislature.

Expanding Support for Healthy Soils

This project was initiated by The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and the Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water, & Related Resources. Over the past decade, several states have taken on healthy soils initiatives, mostly focused on agricultural lands. This project will learn from those initiatives, and expand the scope to include all land uses in Massachusetts.

Read the full story here: https://www.regenerativedesigngroup.com/massachusetts-healthy-soils-action-plan/

Project Manager


Term: 1-2 years

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization created to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement, is seeking a Project Manager for an initial 1-year appointment, with the possibility of extension.  The individual selected will be responsible for managing a project whose goal is to provide quantitative evaluation of the economics of soil health systems in both experimental and on-farm settings.  Accordingly, the incumbent will work closely and effectively with SHI’s Agricultural Economist and many partners in selecting, scheduling, and interviewing farmers about their agricultural production and farm management practices; will personally perform those interviews and collect/compile the associated production methods and data, as needed; will assist with writing reports; and will work closely and effectively with communications teams across SHI and our partnering organizations for implementing a communications plan that includes participating in social media and producing videos, fact sheets, webinars, newsletters, and others.

Residence at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina is preferred, but other locations may be considered.  Salary is projected to range from $75,000 to $100,000 per year, commensurate with experience.  This is a full-time position with attractive benefits.  Frequent travel, primarily to Midwestern farming communities, will be required.

Qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in Agronomy, Soil Science, Crop Science, or an associated area. A Master’s degree is preferred.
  • Demonstration of excellent verbal and written communication skills involving agricultural production is required.
  • Background in or experience with field crop production and associated farming considerations is required.
  • Experience in project leadership and management is highly preferred.
  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

To Apply:

Email a resume/C.V., college transcripts, application letter addressing the above responsibilities and qualifications, and the contact information of 3 references to:

Byron Rath, brath@soilhealthinstitute.org.  Indicate “Project Manager Position” in the subject line.

First review of applications will begin by July 1, 2019, and the position will remain open until filled.

 

Communications & Administrative Specialist


The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization created to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement, located adjacent to Research Triangle Park (RTP), North Carolina is seeking a Communications & Administrative Specialist.  The individual selected will be responsible for creating and delivering written content and story ideas for publication and posting; developing and supporting media and public relations activities, social media, and website content; assisting with event management; coordinating with contracted communications firms and partnering organizations; and providing a range of administrative, accounting, and office support activities to facilitate organizational effectiveness and efficiency.  The candidate selected will be staffed at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina.  Salary will be commensurate with experience.  This is a full-time position with attractive benefits.

Qualifications:

  • A Bachelor’s degree is required, preferably in Communications.
  • Two years of Communications experience is preferred.
  • Experience with administrative and accounting procedures is preferred.
  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

To Apply:

Email a resume/C.V., college transcripts, application letter addressing the above responsibilities and qualifications, and the contact information of 3 references to:

Byron Rath, brath@soilhealthinstitute.org.  Indicate “Communications & Administrative Specialist” in the subject line.

First review of applications will begin by July 1, 2019, and the position will remain open until filled.

FFAR Partners with FoodShot Global to Award 3 GroundBreaker Prizes

From the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research:

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (June 6, 2019) – Soil health research is critical to preserving the environment and increasing farmer yields and profitability. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global awarded GroundBreaker Prizes to three individuals conducting trailblazing research that improves soil health and enhances soil management practices. FFAR contributed $110,000, which was matched by partner organizations for a total prize award of $535,000.

This year’s inaugural Foodshot Global Challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, recognizes rising scientific stars whose research supports a soil system capable of supporting ten billion people. Foodshot Global winners have identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land. Through this prize, all three recipients receive guidance, mentorship and resources to maximize the impact and scale of their research.

“Soil health is at the root of an agricultural system capable of supporting a growing global population,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This type of innovative research is needed to revolutionize global soil health. FFAR is proud to be part of this competition and to support this year’s winners.”

The GroundBreaker Prize was awarded to Dr. Keith Paustian, Dr. Gerlinde de Devn and Dr. Dorn Cox:

Dr. Paustian received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to accelerate the global adaptation of his COMET-Farm tool systems. This specialized technology provides sustainability metrics that inform land management decisions and promote regenerative and conservation-based agricultural practices. These tools are increasingly used in the United States at the federal level to support conservation programs, at the state level to support soil health and carbon management policies, and by industry partners. Dr. Paustian aims to adapt the COMET systems to agricultural regions around the globe.

Dr. Gerlinde de Devn received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to determine soil components that enhance plant productivity, allow for better absorption of nutrients, suppress disease and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. de Devn’s research develops models that predict how plants engage with their environments, allowing researchers to efficiently produce nutritious food without stressing the environment.

Dr. Dorn Cox was also awarded a $35,000 GroundBreaker “Seed” Prize to support his ambitious vision of using Open TEAM to collect environmental data, providing access to comprehensive global agricultural knowledge to help growers make sustainable and profitable farm management decisions. Open TEAM, a technology ecosystem that leverages existing global open-source hardware and software, is in the development phase and aims to advance soil health through community learning and aggregating best agricultural practices. The GroundBreaker Prize will increase the capacity of Open TEAM by incorporating on-the-ground technology support and extending outreach to other open source communities around the world.

“I founded FoodShot Global envisioning a new way to harness the power of innovation, capital, and the collaborative spirit of the world’s leading stakeholders to effect change,” said Chairman and Founder of FoodShot Global Victor Friedberg. “We chose to start with soil because any future that imagines 10 billion people eating healthy and sustainably with equal access will require healthy soil. The three people we announced today are all groundbreakers whose inspired work lays the foundation for the next generation of solutions to the urgency we now face as a civilization. I couldn’t be more impressed and inspired by these inaugural FoodShot Global award winners and look forward to sharing what they’re doing with a larger audience.”

FoodShot Global received 176 GroundBreaker Prize nominations from six continents and over 40 countries. These winners were judged by investors based on core criteria including their alignment with FoodShot Global’s mission of creating a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable food system; their connection to the Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge, the global relevance of their work, their ability to realize growth and scale, and their likelihood of facilitating future innovation and systemic change.