Category Archives: News

ESMC Names Science Advisors, Adds Six New Members

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) today announced selection of science advisors to provide scientific expertise to the four working groups within the Consortium’s research arm, known as the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC). Working group co-leads were also named. The ESMRC working groups are focused on investments in research, development, demonstration and deployment to increase rigor and reduce costs for the fully functioning science-based, standards-based, and outcomes-based ESMC marketplace for agriculture.

The working groups’ efforts will continue to enhance the scientific underpinning for the voluntary ecosystems services market that ESMC will launch in 2022. The ESMC market is a voluntary, market-based approach to incentivize farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that provide quantified ecosystem benefits. ESMC is pilot testing its protocols on 50,000 acres of ranch land and farmland in the Southern Great Plains and is launching additional pilots in 2020. Read the full press release here.

Soil Health Institute Releases Annual Meeting Report, Video

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released its 4th Annual Meeting Report ”SOIL HEALTH: A Global Imperative.”

During the SHI Annual Meeting, which took place July 16-18, 2019, in Sacramento, California, soil health leaders discussed the roles farmers, ranchers and foresters play as key drivers of positive change through their investments in soils. In addition, participants discussed how stakeholders, including manufacturers, conservation-focused foundations and policy makers, can contribute to advancing soil health globally.

Currently, SHI is evaluating 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, Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO, described projects to evaluate the profitability of soil health systems on both farm and research settings; a new farmer-led soil health training program; and research on how soil health relates to water quality, carbon sequestration, and productivity.

During the meeting, soil health leaders discussed new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will impact the U.S. soil health movement. They also reviewed soil health practices that provide a demonstrated return on investment. Finally, participants looked towards the future, identifying benefits that may arise from better understanding the soil microbiome, soil health-human health relationships, and others.

The annual meeting report is available here.

Videos of annual meeting presentations are available here.

New PED Talks Video Series Digs into Soil Health

West Lafayette, Ind., Oct. 29, 2019 — A series of 10-to-15-minute, science-centered “PED Talks” on soil health has been posted on YouTube. Soil peds are aggregated particles of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. Like their namesake, PED Talks combine soil-related topics including explanations of soil health, how we can improve it, and the progress that’s being made to ensure we have the healthy soils necessary to feed, clothe and fuel the world in the future.

The PED Talks series was created by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), Soil Health Institute (SHI), Soil Health Partnership (SHP), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The inaugural PED Talks include a video introduction from NRCS Chief Matt Lohr and the following presentations:

  • Shannon Cappellazzi of SHI on “Soil Health Diagnosed as You’ve Never Heard Before”
  • Alex Fiock of SHP on “Focusing on Soil Health from the Ground Up”
  • Barry Fisher of the NRCS Soil Health Division and Betsy Bower of Ceres Solutions Cooperative presenting “Partnering to Enhance Soil Health” and
  • Jane Hardisty, former NRCS Indiana State Conservationist on “You Are Changing the World!”

NRCS Chief Matt Lohr said, “People say that clean water is the key to life on the planet, but the very same thing can be said about healthy soil – it is literally the foundation to productive agriculture, balanced wildlife habitats, and an overall healthy environment for all. These PED Talks are not only useful for our nation’s agricultural producers, but for our educators, policy makers and the general public. We all benefit from good soil health!”

Bruce Knight, a former NRCS chief, was a key collaborator on the series’ development.

“These PED talks are engaging and interesting to a wide range of audiences, from farmers to consumers, conservation organization staffers and people throughout the food production and value chain, because soil health is a goal that unifies us all,” Knight said. “They’re entertaining, they’re informative, and they deliver insight from some of the country’s leaders in the science and practice of improving soil health.”

Participating conservation-oriented organizations are also excited about the talks.

Mike Komp, Executive Director of CTIC, explained, “The PED Talks series brings context, insight and even humor to soil health and explains why healthy soil is so vital to feeding the world. Soil health is essential to keeping our agricultural lands productive and profitable, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with such great organizations to help get the word out.”

SHP Senior Director John Mesko said, “Through strong outcome-based collaborations, we have seen greater awareness and adoption of soil health practices. SHP is proud to be part of the launch of the PED Talks to continue providing resources to farmers to ensure they have access to the best information to make the right decisions for their farm.”

Said Clare Lindahl, CEO of SWCS, “We see PED Talks as an opportunity for the nation’s conservation professionals to share their stories about soil health. It is through these stories we can learn from one another’s experiences and together advance the art and science of soil and water conservation.”

Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of SHI, added, “Soil health is the powerhouse of sustainability and the foundation of regenerative agriculture. Healthy soil improves resiliency to flood and drought, filters our water, and is an important key to improving carbon storage. We’re eager to share information with everyone who has an interest in soil health.”

Shannon Cappellazzi, Soil Health Institute
Jane Hardisty, retired US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

Three of the talks were recorded at this year’s SWCS annual conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and one was recorded at SHI’s annual meeting in Sacramento, California. All the talks are available on a PED Talks YouTube channel. The partners plan to continue recording additional presentations and releasing them on the PED Talks channel, with a focus on the next generation of scientists and farmer/innovators.

Click here to visit the PED Talks channel on YouTube.

About the Conservation Technology Information Center

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) serves as a clearinghouse of information on sustainable agricultural systems that are productive, profitable and preserve natural resources. CTIC brings together farmers, policy makers, regulators, academic researchers, agribusiness leaders, conservation group personnel, farm media and other interested stakeholders.

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.

About the Soil Health Partnership

The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm. For more information, visit https://soilhealthpartnership.org.

About the Soil Science Society of America

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

About the Soil and Water Conservation Society

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) is the premier international organization for professionals who practice and advance the science and art of natural resource conservation.

About the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS provides farmers, ranchers and forest managers with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring.

For more information, contact:

CTIC (Mike Komp, komp@ctic.org)

SWCS (Clare Lindahl, clare.lindahl@swcs.org)

SHI (Wayne Honeycutt, whoneycutt@soilhealthinstitute.org)

SHP (John Mesko, mesko@ncga.com)

SSSA (Luther Smith, lsmith@sciencesocieties.org)

NRCS (Bianca Moebius-Clune, bianca.moebius-clune@usda.gov)

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.

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.

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

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.

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

Economics of Soil Health to be Assessed across North America

“Management practices that improve soil health can be good for the farm and the environment, but farmers need information on economics when deciding whether to adopt these practices. To address this critical issue, Cargill and the Soil Health Institute have announced a new partnership to assess, demonstrate and communicate the economics of soil health management systems across North America.

““At Cargill, we’re committed to helping farmers increase their productivity so that we can nourish a growing population. We work with partners like The Soil Health Institute to give farmers the tools and resources they need to bring greater sustainability to their operations, while ensuring their productivity,” said Ryan Sirolli, global row crop sustainability director, Cargill. “Farmers are looking for a more robust picture of the economic benefits of investing in soil health on their farms. By partnering with the Soil Health Institute, we will be able to provide the research and insight they need to understand how investing in soil health can provide both financial and environmental benefits. Together, we can help farmers build drought resilience, increase yield stability, reduce nutrient loss and increase carbon sequestration.””

Read the full story here: https://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/42009-Economics-of-Soil-Health-to-be-Assessed-across-North-America