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Report Analyzes Farm Bill Impact on Soil Health

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) today released the Impact of 2018 Farm Bill Provisions on Soil Health, a comprehensive review of each new provision and its role in advancing soil health, the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture. The report also compares funding for soil health in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (i.e., 2018 Farm Bill) includes multiple changes to existing programs. New provisions provide additional incentives to farmers and ranchers to implement soil health-promoting practices such as cover crops and crop rotations. The 2018 Farm Bill also includes mandates for data collection and reporting on soil health, along with enhancements that provide soil health support for beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers.

“Several additions have significant potential to benefit soil health,” noted Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO.  “Soil health has been designated as a priority in managing the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  More soil health field trials and demonstrations are also supported, both of which are important for increasing adoption.  Changes to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) make it more likely that landowners will continue to improve soil health after their CRP contract ends.”

“The report provides a detailed summary of almost 60 provisions that may affect soil health,” said Mr. Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Senior Strategic Advisor.  “It will be a valuable time saver for those who wish to gain information quickly.  For example, the report provides a brief description of each provision, how it impacts soil health, and links to the respective USDA agency responsible for implementing that provision.  In addition, authorized funding levels for the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills are compared for several programs in the Conservation, Research, and Forestry titles.”

The report was a joint collaboration authored by Ms. Katie Harrigan of the Soil Health Institute and Ms. Alyssa Charney of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

For further information, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/resources/catalog/#farmbill.

Farmers are adopting regenerative ag practices, but who’s leading the movement?

“The Soil Health Institute recently released a report describing adoption rates for regenerative agriculture practices like no-till drilling and cover cropping using data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The team compared the data to information obtained about regenerative agriculture practices in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

““There has been a 50% increase in cover crop acreage between 2012 and 2017, from 10.3 million acres to 15.4 million acres. Once farmers started adopting these practices, they expanded the practices to more acres,” Sara Eckhouse, executive director of FoodShot Global, told AFN. Soil Health Institute is one of FoodShot’s partners and the duo worked together on FoodShot’s Soil 3.0 Challenge.

“The data is inspiring for Eckhouse and other soil health enthusiasts, as well as helpful when it comes to figuring out where the nascent regenerative agriculture movement needs to head. FoodShot’s lengthy list of prestigious partners includes Rabobank, Rockefeller Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Stone Barns Center for Food and Innovation, Builders’ Initiative, Armonia, alongside a number of venture funds and NGOs. This provides Eckhouse and her team with a powerful network of people who can make real, meaningful change when it comes to bringing regenerative agriculture from the academic realm to actual farmland.”

Read the full story here: https://agfundernews.com/farmers-are-adopting-regenerative-ag-practices-but-whos-leading-the-movement.html

Nominations open for ESMRC Science Advisors

The Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) seeks nominations to form an inaugural team of science advisors to participate in ESMRC Working Groups. ESMRC Working Groups will provide expert insight and advice on the ESMRC research and demonstration agenda and activities to develop advanced ecosystem services markets for agriculture.

The submission deadline for nominations of working group science advisors is Friday 13 September 2019. Please click here to access the ESMRC Call for Nominations For Working Group Science Advisors; an ESMRC Working Group Science Advisor Nomination Form; a Bio-sketch form; and additional information on ESMRC Working Groups.

Enhancing the contribution of family farmers to sustainable development

Family farmers need enabling public policies and legal frameworks that will “allow them to adapt and flourish in today’s changing environment” and maximize their contribution to sustainable development, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said on Tuesday.

He made the remarks at the launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.

The event saw the participation of the heads of FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which lead the implementation of the Decade, co-organizers Costa Rica and France, as well as La Via Campesina, the World Rural Forum and the World Farmers’ Organization among others.

“We need to reform our food systems and link the activities of the Decade of Family Farming with the Decade of Action on Nutrition. Family farmers are the ones who produce healthy foods. They can save us from the epidemic of obesity, and we need them for healthy diets,” Graziano Da Silva said.

Read the full story here: http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1202098/icode/

Nominations Open for ESMRC Science Advisors

The Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) seeks nominations to form an inaugural team of science advisors to participate in ESMRC Working Groups. ESMRC Working Groups will provide expert insight and advice on the ESMRC research and demonstration agenda and activities to develop advanced ecosystem services markets for agriculture.

The submission deadline for nominations of working group science advisors is Friday 13 September 2019. Please click here to access the ESMRC Call for Nominations For Working Group Science Advisors; an ESMRC Working Group Science Advisor Nomination Form; a Bio-sketch form;  and additional information on ESMRC Working Groups.

Ethical Corporation Magazine-Saving Our Soils

This month we have a fresh look for the magazine and a fresh angle on one of the most important issues facing responsible business, the sustainability of our food and agriculture systems.

Rather than the hi tech side of climate-smart agriculture, this month’s magazine looks at the companies, NGOs, and multi-stakeholder organisations, that aim to feed the world sustainably through regenerative agriculture methods and boosting soil health.

Amy Brown provides an overview of the challenges with food security and nutrition at risk from climate change, biodiversity loss and a world population that is expected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. She also features the farmers who are ploughing a new furrow of regenerative agriculture in the US, and looks at what is behind the growing plant-based diets movement.

Read the full story here: https://events.ethicalcorp.com/reports/docs/239879/magazine-june-2019.pdf

AGU19 Accepting Abstracts This Week

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is accepting abstracts for a session entitled, Advances in Soil Health: Characterizing the Biogeophysical Components of Sustained Productivity in Managed Soils, for its Fall Meeting 2019.

B005 – Advances in Soil Health: Characterizing the Biogeophysical Components of Sustained Productivity in Managed Soils

Soil management practices that enhance organic matter content, minimize disturbance, and promote soil biology are increasingly viewed as critical strategies to both sequester carbon and improve soil productivity. This session will explore how soils change mechanistically under conservation practices, the implications of those changes for the productivity of working lands, and impacts on elemental budgets at farm- to global-spatial scales.

The session welcomes contributions that advance the scientific underpinnings of the soil health concept. Topics may include: links between soil physical and microbial community development, pore versus aggregate perspectives on soil structural development, soil impacts of pesticides and other inputs, and greenhouse gas implications of improved soil health. Contributions across the physical, biological, and geochemical disciplines of soil health are welcome.

For information on writing the abstract, link here.  https://eos.org/agu-news/a-guide-to-writing-an-agu-abstract

To submit an abstract, link here.  https://www2.agu.org/en/Fall-Meeting/Pages/Submit-an-abstract

Soil Health Institute Releases Strategy on Soil Health Adoption

“The Soil Health Institute has released a strategy to help farmers when deciding whether to adopt soil health practices.

“Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, says adopting soil health practices can improve a farmer’s bottom line while also reducing nutrient loss to waterways and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

““It’s one of those rare win-win situations and it really puts farmers in the driver’s seat for addressing so many of our most pressing natural resource issues,” he says.

“He tells Brownfield the strategy involves assessing economic risk of adopting practices and training producers on how to implement them.

““That takes us down the road of conducting research on assessing profitability of these soil health systems,” he says. “Another aspect that we recognize farmers need is to know how to be able to measure the health of their soils and monitor its progress.””

Read the full story here: https://brownfieldagnews.com/news/soil-health-institute-releases-strategy-on-soil-health-adoption/

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/