Category Archives: News

Noble Research Institute President Sets Retirement Date

Noble Research Institute consultants will host a So You Want to Raise Cattle Workshop to provide new and perspective producers with a concrete foundation of the primary considerations involved in entering into beef cattle production.

ARDMORE, Okla. — Bill Buckner announced today that he will retire as president and chief executive officer of the Noble Research Institute at the end of 2018.

Buckner was selected as Noble’s eighth president in 2011 and has led the organization for seven years. “There are no words to properly express the thankfulness I have for my time at Noble,” Buckner said. “Every day at Noble, I have the opportunity to positively impact agriculture and contribute to something greater than myself. I am honored to be a part of the Noble legacy, and I’m excited to see the next chapter unfold for myself and the organization.”

Russell “Rusty” Noble, a member of the Board of Director’s executive committee and founder Lloyd Noble’s grandson, hailed Buckner’s tireless pursuit to advance agriculture. “When you meet Bill Buckner, you know one thing for sure: he loves agriculture. He is a passionate advocate for the sector,” Noble said. “During his time at Noble, Bill worked tirelessly to promote soil health and create innovative new solutions that could open up new opportunities for farmers and ranchers. The Noble Foundation Board of Directors and all the employees offer a whole-hearted thanks to Bill for all of his work.”

The Board of Directors has retained Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm, to assist in identifying Buckner’s successor. If a successor has not been identified by the end of 2018, Buckner will continue in his current role until such time as his replacement can be found. “We are confident in the continuity of the Noble Research Institute’s business activities,” Noble said. “When a successor is identified, the transition will be seamless.”

Bill Buckner announces his plans to retire as president and CEO of the Noble Research Institute during an employee meeting in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on Sept. 18, 2018. Buckner will retire at the end of 2018 after leading the organization for seven years.

A Missouri native, Buckner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1979. He spent the next four decades working in agriculture industry, including 18 years with Bayer. Buckner retired as North American Regional Head and president and CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in 2011. Later that year, he agreed to lead Noble.

During Buckner’s tenure as President and CEO, Noble experienced one of its most dramatic organizational shifts in its 73-year history. Originally known as The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Noble separated its research and education operations from its philanthropic activities in 2017.

The organization’s research, education and consultation activities continued forward under a new name, the Noble Research Institute, LLC and becomes one of the country’s first agricultural research organizations, a new type of 501(c)(3). The philanthropic activities, including grant-making and scholarship programs, of the original organization were placed in a new, private foundation, which carried the name traditionally associated with the organization’s community giving, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

The Buckner era saw Noble expand its educational and community service efforts, dive deeper into cover crop research, establish the Land Stewardship Program, increase its national collaborations and re-established soil health as a core competency.

Noble brought together farmers, ranchers, soil scientists, economists, environmental interests, agribusinesses, NGOs and government agencies together to examine the role of soil health. Their work identified the need for a national organization to serve as a hub for measurement standards, economic data and coordinated research. Noble then launched the Soil Health Institute (SHI) in 2015. The soil-focused nonprofit aims to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of the soil through scientific research and advancement.

“Soil health is very much at the heart of the Noble Research Institute mission,” Buckner said. “Our founder Lloyd Noble lived through the Dust Bowl and he established our organization to help combat the agricultural challenges our region faced. Launching SHI continues to bring Mr. Noble’s vision to the national stage.”

In recent years at the Institute, Buckner has been spearheading the creation of the Ecosystem Services Market (ESM), an ambitious national effort to incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems by creating a large-scale program that would finance, generate and sell ecosystem service credits from agriculture working lands.

“I am so proud of the tremendous accomplishments of the past seven years,” Buckner said. “As our founder once said, ‘No individual accomplishes anything worthwhile by his effort alone.” I know that to be true. Any success I have experienced is a direct result of the tremendous men and women I’ve worked with every day here at Noble and our collaborators around the country.”

Looking forward to 2019, Buckner said he anticipated spending more time with his family. While he is retiring from his organizational leadership role, Buckner will continue to serve the agricultural sector.

“Time with my children and grandchildren is first on the agenda,” Buckner said. “However, I’m not done yet. The encore of my career will be spent helping shepherd the ESM project on behalf of Noble as well as the Soil Health Institute, where I serve as Chairman of the Board. While I will no longer have the daily responsibilities of leading an organization, I will continue to be involved in advancing agriculture. That’s something I will never stop doing.”

Announcing a new partnership with FoodShot Global

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with FoodShot Global, a brand new investment platform catalyzing groundbreaking innovation in the food and agriculture space. Up to $10 million in equity and up to $20 million in debt funding is available to innovative businesses! In addition, a GroundBreaker Prize of more than $500,000 in philanthropic capital is available to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates.

FoodShot’s inaugural challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, is searching for projects and ideas that utilize the latest in technology, science and engineering to address the crisis of soil deterioration.

As a partner of this unique non-profit organization, we hope to make the food system healthier, more sustainable and more equitable. The deadline for applications and nominations is December 1. Apply today and feel free to pass the information along! For more information, go to

Position Announcement

Chief Scientific Officer –

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a nonprofit organization created to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement, seeks a Chief Scientific Officer (CSO).

The CSO will be responsible for:

  • developing and establishing scientific direction, strategy and implementation for the Institute research programs;
  • leading scientific research and coordinating projects conducted with partnering institutions that advance soil health science and result in useful and reportable outcomes;
  • writing grant proposals and ensuring projects are designed to create tangible, mission-oriented outcomes aligned with the Institute’s strategic Action Plan;
  • negotiating grant awards with institutional grant recipients;
  • coordinating and working with principal investigators to advance research projects;
  • leading multi-disciplinary (i.e., basic, translational, and applied) research;
  • leading and serving as a liaison to assigned Working Committees/Action Teams;
  • establishing and coordinating a Science Advisory Committee;
  • administering measurement standards and coordinating research peer reviews;
  • leading expansion and ensuring relevance of the Soil Health Research Landscape Tool;
  • furthering positive collaboration across the soil health community;
  • and other duties, as assigned.

A Ph.D. in an agricultural science discipline with at least one degree in soil science is required.  A Ph.D. in soil science is highly preferred. Experience managing large scale, well-coordinated research efforts is preferred.  The position is located at the Soil Health Institute’s office near Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  Compensation to be commensurate with experience.  To apply, please email a letter of application addressing the experience required and responsibilities of the position, along with a curriculum vitae, copies of all college transcripts, and the names and contact information of four references to Mr. Byron Rath:  Please include “Chief Scientific Officer” in the email subject line.  First review of applications will begin September 17, 2018. The position will remain open until filled.  Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

Human Health and Soil Health Conference Registration

Registration is Open!

Registration is open for a conference to explore the connections between soil health and human health! Together we will create an interdisciplinary, collaborative research roadmap to further advance our understanding of those relationships.

Kickstarter Conference to Create a Research Collaboration Roadmap


  • Make relevant connections between soil and human health sciences;
  • Identify promising research opportunities;
  • Build interdisciplinary teams to address those research needs; and
  • Propose funding mechanisms that will lead to scientific findings that benefit the health of agricultural systems, the environment, and the public.

To facilitate meaningful, interactive dialogue, the conference is limited to 200 attendees. Registration is open until filled, or until October 6, whichever comes first. A registration fee of $250 will increase to $300 on September 14, 2018.

Register Here

For more information including the agenda, confirmed speakers and sponsorship opportunities visit our website here.

Through a generous donation provided by Bayer Crop Science, we are pleased to offer ten, $1,000 scholarships to support graduate student attendance at the Conference. Application instructions are available here.

SHI Announces Policy Resources

Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President & CEO of the Soil Health Institute, leads efforts to connect soil health researchers to current policies and programs.

A Catalog of Academic, State Agency and Legislative Policies & Programs to Advance Soil Health

Soil health policies are growing in number and importance across the United States but are widely dispersed across a variety of academic institutions, state agencies and legislative bodies. This catalog brings these policy efforts together to facilitate cross-pollination, learning and coordination.

Access the Catalog

Soil Health Institute Board Member Inducted to Vermont Agriculture Hall of Fame

Robert Foster of Middlebury, VT, is one of four 2018 inductees to the Vermont Agricultural Hall of Fame –

Robert Foster

He was recognized for Lifetime Achievement: 30+ years of Outstanding Service to Vermont Agriculture. Foster, a member of the Soil Health Institute’s Board of Directors, is a partner in Foster Brothers Farm, a fifth-generation dairy.

Foster chairs the Board of Advisors of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Vermont. He served 37 years as a director on the Agrimark Board of Directors.

“Bob has been a soil health leader for decades, and he is very deserving of this recognition,” Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, said.

A proponent of bioenergy, Foster and his family were among the first to install an anaerobic digester on their farm. The Fosters also developed one of the largest compost companies in New England. They gather residual nutrients from their own and neighbors’ farms, process manure for use as fertilizer, blend the different formulas together, and distribute the resulting product through their company, Vermont Natural Ag Products, as MOO™ Doo. Currently, they provide fertilizer and soil amendments throughout New England.

“I know our soil health family joins us in congratulating Bob on this lifetime achievement,” Honeycutt said.

SHI Announces Education Resources

The Soil Health Institute Communications and Education Action Team has compiled a catalog of soil health educational resources to help educators teach students and adults about the critical functions that soil plays in sustaining life on earth.

This team identified existing soil health resources – developed by public and private sector organizations – and organized them by audience and subject matter to help educators develop soil health lesson plans and demonstrations; and to help students explain, engage in and advocate for soil health issues, and soil health’s benefits to agriculture, the environment and local communities.

The Soil Health Institute would like to acknowledge Beth Mason of the National Association of Conservation Districts, Ron Nichols, formerly of USDA-NRCS, Lisa Bellows of North Central Texas College, Gretchen Sassenrath of Kansas State University, Sami Tellatin at University of Missouri, Caroline Wade of The Nature Conservancy, Susan Schultz of SMS Consulting and Earth Team Volunteer, Jessica Handy of Kiss the Ground, Gary Farrell of the Washington State Soil Health Committee and Scott Jones of Regenerative Farming Practices for their contributions.

Please review the catalog here:

Thank You for Your Proposals!

Thank you to all who have submitted poster proposals, guidelines remain available below for reference.

Have you registered for the annual meeting yet?

Request for Applications

Soil Health Institute (SHI) Requests Applications to Participate in a North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project:

  1. Join the GIS-Referenced Database on Long-Term Agricultural Experiments
  2. Participate in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project

Submission Deadline: June 29, 2018

Submit requests through the Institute website:

Send Questions to: Paul W. Tracy, Project Manager, or
Steven R. Shafer, Chief Scientific Officer,


The concept of soil health has captured wide ranging interest across public and private sector agricultural, environmental, and conservation organizations.  This high level of interest is well-placed because soil health represents one of those rare win-win situations where practices that are good for the farmer are also beneficial for the environment.

Research on the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil has enabled significant advances in managing agricultural soils and supporting increases in yield over the past 100 years.  Several soil health indicators and programs are now in use; however, despite its importance, a widely applicable and universally accepted approach for measuring soil health has not yet been established.  Numerous challenges exist, such as the adaptability of different methods and interpretations for different soils, agricultural production systems, and environments; unclear links among measurements, soil processes, and outcomes; ease and cost of measurement techniques; differences in measurement protocols among analytical laboratories; and others.

To address this need, the Soil Health Institute invites applications to participate in a coordinated, continental scale evaluation of soil health measurements and their relationships with yield, economics, and ecosystem services.  Applications are sought from individuals and organizations engaged in long-term (minimum 10-year) agricultural field experiments in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.  Applications not selected for sampling in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation project may still be included in a publicly-accessible, on-line GIS directory of long-term agricultural research experiments and sites being established to advance collaborations and opportunities for the agricultural community.

Review of applications will be a two-step process.  Reviewers will select sites for inclusion in the directory based on the adequacy of information provided to describe the site and experiments conducted there.  Sites selected for the directory will then be re-reviewed for possible inclusion in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.  Assessments will be based on strength and completeness of information provided, experimental designs and treatments implemented, data quality and continuity, geographic location relative to other available sites regionally and nationally, and overall potential contribution to evaluating soil health measurements, as detailed below.  All applicants will be notified of the results.

Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria:

To be eligible for the directory, a site must have a minimum of 10 continuous years of land use treatments implemented in a statistically valid experimental design.  Experimental treatments of interest include those that may alter soil properties, such as evaluations associated with tillage type, crop rotation, nutrient management, irrigation, grazing management, cover crops, organic amendments (e.g., manure), production systems (e.g., organic vs. conventional), and others.  All should be compared to one or more controls.

Individuals and organizations conducting such research on governmental, university, and private-sector sites are all encouraged to apply. Experiments selected for inclusion in the directory will then be considered for participation in a North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.  Experiments selected for the Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project will be based on a peer review of the completeness and strength of documentation describing the experiment(s), as noted below.  Requested information includes:

The strongest candidate sites for evaluating soil health measurements and indicators will have well-defined treatment and experimental designs, extensive environmental data, and extensive data on production inputs and outputs, so that indicators can be evaluated in the context of management practices and their impacts in different production systems, environments and soils.

Note: Several sites have already been submitted to SHI for the directory of long-term agricultural experiments.  Because additional information is needed, those sites must respond to this RFA to be considered for the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.

Selection and Partnering Information:

Those sites selected for inclusion in the directory of long-term agricultural research experiments will be considered for participation in a continental scale evaluation of soil health measurements and programs.  Soils in selected treatments, replications, etc., will be sampled and evaluated with multiple measurements/indicators of soil health that are at different stages of development.  One local representative at each location will be asked to provide the site-specific information necessary for the evaluation (e.g., management history, yield, weather) and help guide the on-site soil sampling process, which is estimated to require 1-2 days per site.  The Soil Health Institute (SHI) will provide soil sampling and handling assistance by assigning SHI Project Scientists to coordinate and participate in sample and data collection activities.  In return, site managers/scientists will have access to all soil analysis data from their site, may participate in the overall project to evaluate and standardize soil health measurements and their interpretations across North America, and will receive an honorarium of $2,500 (one per site, as determined by SHI), if allowed by their host institution.  In addition, each site in the Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project will be offered funds to cover travel expenses for one site representative to attend a 2-3-day project workshop designed to share site information and facilitate collaborations with representatives from across multiple sites.  Scientific publications will be developed with authorship from sites contributing data and interpretation.


Important Note

Site information contained in the GIS-referenced database will be made publicly available through the Soil Health Institute website.  Data from analyses of soils collected at the sites selected for evaluation of soil health measurements will also be available on the SHI website.  Site managers will have access to all raw and interpreted data accumulated from their sites.  They will be encouraged to participate in database management and data interpretation and to work with the data from their sites or in combination with other sites to develop important soil health information for dissemination across the scientific, agricultural production and public policy communities.

Project Timeline:

Request for Applications (RFA) released April 20, 2018
Long-term site directory and evaluation applications due June 29, 2018
Develop site plans for data and metadata collection Aug. 31, 2018
Workshops for long-term site representatives Sept. to Nov. 2018
Sample collection Jan. to May 2019
Laboratory and data analyses Jan. to Oct.  2019
Interpretation and preparation of publications Oct. 2019 to Dec. 2020

How to Apply:

An application form is provided on the Soil Health Institute’s website at this link:  Multiple experiments/sites submitted from the same site manager/team will require separate applications.  Applications are due by June 29, 2018.
Download Electronic Form

Soil Health Institute Meeting Agenda & Poster Guidelines

The Soil Health Institute has released the Agenda for its Third Annual Meeting, August 1-3 in Albuquerque.  National and international leaders will address such contemporary topics as achieving corporate sustainability goals and environmental markets through soil health, recent advances in understanding the soil microbiome, links between soil health and human health, federal and state policies for advancing soil health, enhancing research-farmer connections for greater adoption, and others.

If you haven’t registered or reserved your room, full details can be found here. For poster guidelines please click this link.

We sincerely hope you will join us!