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Ag Biotech Summit Registration is Now Open

The 2018 Ag Biotech Summit will focus on the importance of Soil Health, highlighting challenges being faced and the responsibility needed to provide a sustainable future. This event will showcase today’s emerging trends and innovative technologies that are fostering and promoting soil health. Session topics will include soil health and its impacts on plant production, animal and human health, sustainability and land management as well as sustainable economic impacts from physical and biological combinations. So mark it on your calendar to join us on February 20-21 to share innovations and help encourage new creations with the common goal of creating a sustainable soil future. Learn more.

Register Here!

Soil Health Institute, and Tri-Societies Partner to Accelerate Soil Health Research

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Oct. 24 /CSRwire/ – The Soil Health Institute, The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America and are partnering on a project that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to accelerate the retrieval and use of soil health research. developed an NLP tool that takes unstructured text and turns it into structured data.

“We originally developed this natural language processing application for researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help identify causal pathways in cancer research and children’s health,” said Mihai Surdeanu, co-founder of “It achieves levels of interpretation and precision that are statistically similar to humans, but unlike humans who can become fatigued and bored, the computer’s process is sustainable for an unlimited number of papers,” added Surdeanu.

Read the full story here.

Save the Date: Ag Biotech Summit 2018

The 2018 Ag Biotech Summit will focus on the importance of soil health, highlighting challenges being faced and the responsibility needed to provide a sustainable future. This event will showcase today’s emerging trends and innovative technologies that are fostering and promoting soil health. Session topics will include soil health and its impacts on plant production, animal and human health, sustainability and land management as well as sustainable economic impacts from the intersection of physical and biological science. So mark it on your calendar to join us on February 20 and 21 to share innovations and help encourage new creations with the common goal of creating a sustainable soil future.

For More Information Click Here.

OFRF Now Accepting Applications for 2018 Grant Cycle


Press Release

Diana Jerkins, OFRF Research Director
(831) 426-6606

OFRF is pleased to release our Request for Proposals (RFP) for 2018 research grants. Applicants residing in Canada, Mexico, and the United States are eligible to apply. In particular, OFRF encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, early career researchers, veterans, and Extension personnel to consider applying for funding. The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2017. OFRF will notify applicants about funding decisions in spring 2018.

We selected our priority areas for the RFP based on direct feedback from farmers and ranchers across the U.S. These priorities reflect the top areas where investment in research will make a real difference in helping organic farmers and ranchers be successful.

Research priorities include are not limited to:

  1. Soil health. Topics of particular interest include nutrient balancing, crop rotations, and fertility management focused on reducing environmental impacts.
  2. Innovative weed control. Topics of particular interest include weed control related to climate change and changing weather patterns.
  3. Management of emerging insect and disease issues.
  4. Livestock health. Topics of particular interest include livestock and crop integration and best practices for grass based livestock production.

The RFP and guidelines can be viewed here. Please help us get the word out by sharing this information.

Please refer to the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda for more information on these topics.

Funding contributions are being accepted for OFRF’s 2018 research grant program. Your support will help bring more farmers and acreage into organic production. To learn more about how you can make a contribution to OFRF’s 2018 research grant program, please contact

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.

The Language of Soil Health-Wayne Honeycutt

“Agricultural practices that enhance soil health are as good for the farmer as they are for the environment. Proven benefits of healthy soil include boosting crop yields, enhancing water quality, increasing drought resilience, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing carbon sequestration and building disease suppression.

“To continue growth and adoption of practices that benefit the health of our nation’s soils, the Soil Health Institute (SHI) has endorsed a list of 19 “Tier 1” soil health measurements. After three years of gathering input and feedback from scientists, farmers, field conservationists, soil test labs and more, these specific measurements, when regionally defined, help define management strategies to improve soil function – like nutrient and water availability.

“Farmers in each region of the United States face different struggles and challenges when it comes to maintaining and increasing soil health. With such a wide variation in soil type, moisture, precipitation and countless other factors, managing soil health consistently and creating standard measurements for soil testing across the industry are not easy tasks. To continue the growth and adoption of soil health practices, SHI is taking steps to streamline this process for better communication and a shared understanding of how the industry measures and improves soil health.

“These indicators are considered the best measures that are currently available for farmers to define soil health in regionally specific conditions.”

Read the Full Article here:

Literature and Information Review Grant Recipients

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced five researchers will receive 2017 Soil Health Literature and Information Review Grants. According to Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Steven Shafer, 45 grant proposals were received. Each proposal was evaluated by two reviewers and recommended for final consideration based on the topic proposed and its value to advancing soil health.

Proposals funded under the Literature Review program are designed to collect current research literature, websites, databases, and other scientifically reliable information sources relevant to soil health; develop review articles and summaries on specific priorities supporting the SHI Action Plan; and deposit the reviews and bibliographic information within the Soil Health Research Landscape online database (freely accessible from SHI’s website). Each $8,000 grant may be used to support personnel and other legitimate expenses related to surveying, identifying, compiling, and summarizing the existing scientific literature, websites, and databases related to soil health, and preparing an overall review article about the findings.


Soil health management practices & biogeochemical cycling in intensive cropping systems
Dr. Kate A. Congreves, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan
This review will focus on the interactions of soil health management practices (e.g., crop rotations, cover crops and cover crop mixes, animal manures with different characteristics) and soil microbial processes affecting soil chemical composition, macro- and micronutrient availability, mineralization, and leaching; and the soil microbial species and communities that are involved.

Influence of soil organic matter and management on soil water dynamics and crop yield resilience
Mr. Daniel Kane, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
This literature review will focus on the influence of soil organic matter and soil texture on soil water infiltration and soil water holding capacity. The review will also examine how those properties can be changed through management and whether there is evidence that they affect interannual yield variability (yield stability) and mitigate yield losses in adverse weather (yield resilience).

β-glucosidase – Phenol Oxidase Ratio: A Soil Health Index that Isolates Management Effect from Noise
Dr. Marshall Douglas McDaniel, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State University
This project will focus on collecting and synthesizing information from studies that measure two critical soil extracellular enzymes produced mostly by soil microorganisms, but also plants. β- glucosidase is an extracellular enzyme that cleaves glucose monomers from cellobiose, a critical step in the mineralization of organic matter in soils. Phenol oxidase is a lignin-oxidizing enzyme produced by plants and microorganisms that degrades lignin and humus, releasing carbon and nutrients. The ratio of these two extracellular enzymes has promise as a highly-sensitive soil health indicator.

Review Novel Soil Indicators and Environmental Impacts of Soil Health Promoting Management Practices
Ms. Yushu Xia, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois
The project will review the primary literature to evaluate the performance of active carbon and nitrogen measurements or their practicality, sensitivity and utility by evaluating responsiveness to soil health promoting practices and relationships to soil function (productivity, environmental function). A more in-depth exploration will then use references that report greenhouse gas emissions from field experiments that document management practice effects on soil health. Analyses will explore how covariates (management and edaphic factors) may help explain variable effects of soil health promoting practices on greenhouse gas emissions.

Grazingland Management Impacts on Water Infiltration, Nutrient Use Efficiency, and C Sequestration
Ms. Sutie Xu, Dept. of Animal Science, Michigan State University
Grazingland is one of the most important ecosystem types, as it occupies 30% of land area on the Earth and provides food and many ecosystem services. It is critical to understand the impacts of grazingland management on ecosystem processes such as water, nutrient, and carbon cycling to provide information and recommendations for policy makers and farm managers. This literature review encompasses soil water infiltration, nutrient use efficiency, and soil carbon sequestration because they are indicators of soil health that are closely related to soil functions regulating water and supporting nutrient and carbon dynamics, as well as mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Each proposal is highly relevant to the overall goal for the Soil Health Institute’s research program, which is to address strategic, high priority needs of the scientific and stakeholder communities for advancing soil health,” -Dr. Shafer

The $40,000 in total grant funds were supplied by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous, according to Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO.

“These funds are designated to foster soil health promoting research, and we are grateful for the opportunity to provide grants to these very worthy recipients,” Dr. Honeycutt

Webinar: Soil Health

On August 23, 1p.m. ET, our Dr. Wayne Honeycutt will be a guest on Spudsmart’s Soil Health webinar. There, we will discuss practices to increase the soil’s capacity for potato production, including:

  • Why organic matter is important for soil structure.
  • How biodiversity in the soil can help suppress soil-borne disease and pest pathogens.
  • Using cover crops, minimizing tillage and going to longer rotations.
  • Integrating livestock into the system.

To learn more, register for free at

Managing Soil Health in Potatoes-Spudsmart

Soil health can be seen as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. This definition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) speaks to the importance of managing the soil so it can continue to sustain life for future generations.

According to the USDA-NRCS, there are a number of agronomic measures farmers can follow to bolster soil health. They include:

  • Minimize soil disturbance
  • Keep soil covered
  • Maximize the duration of living roots
  • Maximize diversity of crops
  • Integrate livestock into the system

Read the Full Article at: