Category Archives: News

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

Spring Newsletter 2019

Keep up-to-date on soil health news through the Soil Health Institute’s newsletter!

Join Us for the Soil Health Institute’s Information-Packed 2019 Annual Meeting

This year’s theme is Soil Health-A Global Imperative, reflecting just how critically imminent it is that we safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soils to address food, water, climate, wildlife, fiber, fuel, and other global issues.

You will learn about:

  • Where we go next for exploring soil health-human health relationships,
  • Identifying the best indicators of soil health across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico,
  • New state and federal programs and policies for supporting soil health,
  • Latest research in understanding and managing the soil microbiome,
  • Filling the economics information gap for farmers,
  • Training programs to assist farmers with adopting soil health systems,
  • Adapting soil health principles in rangeland systems,
  • Ecosystem service markets for the environmental benefits attributed through soil health, and
  • Soil stewardship as the “Great Connector.”

Read More in the Newsletter: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Soil-Health-News-2019-vol-4-num-2.pdf

Soil Health Institute Releases 4th Annual Meeting Agenda

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, May. 15, 2019 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released its 4th Annual Meeting Agenda. The meeting, SOIL HEALTH: A Global Imperative, will be July 16 – 18 at the Hyatt Regency, Sacramento, Calif.

Almost 30 speakers will address a range of soil health topics, including soil health’s link to better human health as well as the economic impact of soil health promoting practices. Attendees will be first to learn the initial results from the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements, a major initiative to sample 122 long-term research sites across Canada, United States, and Mexico in order to evaluate 31 indicators of soil health. The project includes evaluating several biological measurements of soil health, such as phospholipid fatty acids and metagenomics to assess soil microbial communities, along with several indicators of the processes they influence.

To review the agenda, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/AM4-Agenda_Website.pdf.

To register for the meeting, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/fourth-annual-meeting/.

For more information, please contact info@soilhealthinstitute.org.

10 Ways to Connect Soil and Human Health

“In October 2018, researchers and subject experts from around the world met for the Soil Health Institute’s Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health. Attended by nearly 200 scientists and organization leaders, including Rodale Institute Chief Scientist Dr. Andrew Smith, the Conference concluded by presenting 10 recommendations focused on advancing the connection between soil health and human health through science and policy.

“The recommendations include utilizing long-term agricultural studies to track soil health, developing research sites in varied geographical areas, and opening a center focused on the interaction between soil health, our food system, and human health.

“Conference participants also recommended increased communication to stakeholders, regionally and globally, by integrating existing data across disciplines into a comprehensive summary. Cooperation among research fields was also identified as a priority, with a need to identify fields that affect human health such as the soil microbiome, nutrient density, and the human-soil interaction and its effect on community well-being.”

Read the Full Story Here: https://rodaleinstitute.org/blog/10-ways-to-connect-soil-and-human-health/