Category Archives: News

New Publication Connects Soil and Human Health

A recent publication by Brevik et. al. titled Soil and Human Health: Current Status and Future Needs looks at how soil health and human health are connected.

The publication, available through Air, Soil and Water Research, introduces the concept that soil health is a key social determinant of health and explores the current status of soil pollution, soil microorganisms, and soil macroorganisms to human health, as well as nutrient supply from the soil. The article also establishes the need for communication with the public on the connection between soil and human health.

The article cites the Soil Health Institute’s Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health, during which scientists and organization leaders developed 10 research recommendations to advance both science and policy communications between soil health and human health.

Spring Newsletter

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released a new issue of Soil Health News, which:

  • Summarizes the Core Values of the Institute;
  • announces a new journal article, “Introducing the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements,” which describes the rationale, approach, and methods used in SHI’s continental-scale, collaborative soil health research project;
  • updates information on SHI’s two-pronged approach for assessing the business case that integrates economic results from long-term agricultural research sites with farmer interviews to provide greater insight into the returns of soil health management systems;
  • highlights cotton farmers’ experiences with soil health management systems in Arkansas; and
  • outlines improvements to SHI’s Soil Health Research Landscape Tool, the online library and search engine of soil health-related research papers, reports, and other publications, which now includes more than 13,000 references to help scientists, industry leaders, producers, policy makers and anyone interested in soil health locate pertinent research articles.

Read the newsletter here.

Farmers, Scientists, and Ag Industry to Advance the Science and Practicality of Soil Health

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soil, today released its 5th Annual Meeting Agenda. Registration is open for Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture, SHI’s first-ever virtual annual meeting. There is no registration fee; however, registration is required to attend. The online meeting will be held July 30 and 31, 2020.

The annual meeting will host 28 distinguished panelists and speakers, including farmers, soil scientists, food manufacturing leaders, and policy experts. The keynote will be provided by Jay Watson, Sourcing Sustainability Engagement Manager at General Mills, Inc., who leads General Mills, Inc.’s greenhouse gas reduction and regenerative agriculture commitments.

Among the meeting topics:

  • Comprehensive Strategy for Advancing Soil Health
  • Determining Effective Measurements of Soil Health
  • Dimensions of Adoption
  • Filling the Economics Gap for Farmers
  • Soil Health Policies and Programs in Action

In addition to the plenary sessions, a virtual Video Poster Session will feature up to 80 3-minute video research presentations.

“The level of enthusiasm we have received for Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture is very inspiring,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI president and CEO. “We are excited at the opportunity for reaching a broad, and hopefully global, audience with the latest information for advancing the science and practicality of soil health.”

For more information and to register for the annual meeting, please visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/annual-meeting-2020/.

SHI Opens Call for Video Poster Submissions

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) has opened its call for submissions for the virtual Video Poster Session at their 5th Annual Meeting, July 30-31, 2020. Submissions must be received through the Video Poster Submission form, accompanied by a signed Video Poster Session Author Authorization and Release Agreement submitted by email, no later than 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time (PT), Tuesday June 23, 2020. Interested video poster authors must also register to attend the conference.

Due to the virtual nature of the meeting, SHI is seeking 3-minute video submissions in lieu of a poster. Video submissions must be self-contained, self-explanatory, scientifically rigorous, and relevant to soil health. To optimize attendee experience and interactivity with presenters, the video poster session is limited to 80 videos. Presenters will be notified by July 10, 2020, regarding acceptance.

Interested researchers are asked to read the Call for Video Posters in full for a listing of submission guidelines and presentation requirements.

For questions about the video poster session, video preparation or submission, contact us at info@soilhealthinstitute.org with the subject line “SHI2020 Video Poster Session”.

Registration for SHI’s 5th Annual Meeting Now Open

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) opened registration today for its 5th Annual Meeting, “Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture.” The event will be July 30-31, 2020 and will be virtual this year. There is no cost to attend the event, but registration is required.

Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture is a free, 2-day virtual event. Join to advance the opportunity that improving soil health offers to address climate change, water quality, food production, biodiversity, and many other pressing issues.

The event will include Plenary Sessions from 12:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time), as well as a Video Poster Session from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 (Noon) p.m. (Eastern Time) on both days. More details on the full agenda and the Video Poster Session will be available in the coming weeks.

Register for the event through the registration form, available here. More information is available on the conference webpage, or contact SHI at info@soilhealthinstitute.org.

If you are interested in becoming an event sponsor, please contact Sheldon Jones.

SHI Publishes Strategy for Evaluating Soil Health Measurements

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announces the first publication on the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements (NAPESHM) is now available, open source, in Agronomy Journal.

“Introducing the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements” describes the rationale, approach, and methods used in this continental-scale, collaborative soil health research project conducted by SHI. The paper documents the core strategic design, soil health measurements being evaluated, methods used, and sites participating in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

The overall goal of the project is to identify the most effective measures of soil health across a wide range of climates, production systems, management practices, and inherent soil properties. The paper also provides other researchers and stakeholders a clear roadmap for obtaining results relevant to the database being developed and offers a reference for protocols used by SHI.

The paper was co-authored by Charlotte E. Norris, G. Mac Bean, Shannon B. Cappellazzi, Michael Cope, Kelsey L.H. Greub, Daniel Liptzin, Elizabeth L. Rieke, Paul W. Tracy, Cristine L.S. Morgan, and C. Wayne Honeycutt.

SHI would like to thank the NAPESHM Scientists for spearheading the effort, as well as more than 80 Partnering Scientists from across academia, federal agencies, and the private sector who are making this project possible. SHI also thanks the project’s funders: The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills, for their generosity.

Future papers will describe the results of SHI’s evaluation of approximately 30 soil health indicators across North America.

Access the publication now through the Agronomy Journal.

Soil Health Institute Announces Virtual Annual Meeting

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced its 5th Annual Meeting will go virtual.

“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will hold an online annual meeting this year,” Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO, said.

“The good news is there will be no registration fee; however, we will still need people to register so they can access the event and we can provide meeting information via email,” Dr. Honeycutt said. “The poster session, which has become an integral part of our meeting, will be incorporated into the virtual event through video presentations. We are also working to provide Continuing Education Unit (CEU) credits for participating certified crop advisors.”

As previously announced, the annual meeting will be July 30-31, 2020. An agenda and more information on how to register will be available in early May.

For more information, please visit the website or contact info@soilhealthinstitute.org.

A Handle on Soil Health

For decades, farmer decisions regarding soil health practices lacked adequate science-based validation. The Soil Health Institute seeks to end this disconnect by evaluating 31 soil health indicators that predict the sustainability and productivity of tested soils.

The Furrow provides an overview of SHI’s efforts to determine which of these indicators best reflect a soil’s health and productivity.

To read the full story click here.

“The concept of soil health is good not only for farmers and ranchers but also for the environment. But the lack of a widely-applicable method of assessing soil health is a significant barrier to further adoption,” -Wayne Honeycutt

State Level Soil Health Policy Resources Released

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released an update to its state level Soil Health Policy Resources Catalog of legislative, agency, and academic policies and programs to advance soil health. The updated catalog, housed on the SHI website, also includes information on non-profit and for-profit entities.

SHI published the original catalog in July 2018 to help facilitate cross-pollination, learning and coordination across dispersed policies and programs. Since that time, the number of soil health programs and policies has significantly increased. For example, the number of legislative bills to advance soil health increased from 9 in 2018 to 53 by the end of 2019. The updated catalog now includes: 32 academic institutions, 85 state agencies, 53 state legislative bills, 87 non-profit entities, and 23 for-profit organizations.

“It is exciting to see such an increase in the number of initiatives to enhance the vitality and productivity of soils, particularly at the state level,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO. “Soil health is the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture, and such efforts at state and local levels help ensure local impact by considering locally relevant soils, climates, and production systems. Our goal in developing this catalog of policies and programs is to provide a resource where anyone wanting to learn what others have done can do so without having to reinvent the wheel for themselves.”

A case in point is the “Healthy Soils Task Force” established under Nebraska legislative bill 243. “As Chair of the Task Force, it is my job to help our members research and review effective soil health programs being done in other states and through other organizations so that we can build upon their success,” said Keith Berns, Chair of the Task Force. “This is a daunting task, but the Soil Health Institute’s catalog on soil health resources will be an invaluable tool in helping us reach our goals. It is a huge timesaver for the people on our Task Force.”

Recognizing that keeping such a catalog updated is a significant challenge, SHI invites additions that can be nominated on a form at the end of the catalog.

To view the catalog, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/resources/catalog/.

No-Till Cropping System Reaches Milestone in Wettest Year

“NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS), PIERRE, S.D., December 11, 2019 – In the wettest year on record for South Dakota, half the cropland in the state that was planted used a cropping system without tillage. That system, no-till farming, has been the predominant cropping system on South Dakota cropland in recent years, but this is the first year the practice was used to plant 50 percent of the state’s crops.

““It’s a milestone for farmers in this state. The incredibly wet weather we had the previous fall and in the spring of 2019 complicated planting for most farmers, and may have contributed to them meeting that milestone,” Jeff Zimprich, State Conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) told an audience at the Ag Horizons Conference in Pierre.

“The NRCS has tracked tillage systems and no-till for 37 years to help measure progress in the use of soil saving and soil building farming systems. “This highest ever percentage of no-till may be because one heavy rainfall after another during the spring planting season left only a very narrow window for planting, and the more stable soil structure that’s developed with no-till systems and cover crops allowed no-till producers to plant fields that were not overwhelmingly saturated during that narrow window,” Zimprich said. “Or it may be there’s more interest in no-till and healthy soils. In either case, more no-till systems and cover crops are a bonus to producers and all of us who live in South Dakota, because healthier soils and cleaner water are benefits we can all enjoy.””

Read the full story here: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/sd/newsroom/releases/?cid=nrcseprd1517222