Category Archives: News

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.”

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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.”

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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.””

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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:

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

To register for the meeting, visit

For more information, please contact

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.”

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Farmer Views On Soil Health

“The past several years there’s been more attention and focus on soil health in agriculture. Not all soils are the same and different places around the world may require different approaches. Many farmers have been working on and testing different methods for improving soil well before it was on the radar of everyone. To learn more see the Precision Ag, Water, Soil section of the GFN website, and the Soil Health Institute is a very authoritative resource to learn more from if you are interested in the topic.

“We queried some members of the Global Farmer Network to get their thoughts on two questions, and some brief responses this week from Africa, Asia, North America and Europe follow:

“What are you doing to increase the soil health of your farm?

“How important is soil health to your farm’s economic and environmental sustainability?”

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New Report Identifies how to Supercharge Ag Science in the US

20 Universities Demonstrate Success as Coalition Presses for More Federal Investment in Agricultural Research-

“WASHINGTON, DC (March 27, 2019)—A new report issued today showed how U.S. farmers—facing a surge of weather events and disease outbreaks—can increase production and revenues with innovations produced by federally funded agricultural research.

“The U.S. needs to increase its investment in agricultural research or it risks falling further behind China, according to a new report issued by the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation and 20 FedByScience research institutions.

“The new report, Retaking the Field: Science Breakthroughs for Thriving Farms and a Healthier Nation, highlights research projects in the five Science Breakthroughs areas identified as the most important fields to advance in agriculture by the year 2030: genomics, microbiomes, sensors, data and informatics, and transdisciplinary research. These areas were determined by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) as part of a widespread scientific effort to prioritize agricultural research endeavors.”

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Soil Health Training to Supply Growing Demand for Sustainable Cotton

“The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the nonprofit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing soil health, has announced it will launch “Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton,” a continuous engagement project to help U.S. cotton farmers increase soil health on their farms. In addition, the project will seek to quantify and expand the productivity, economic, and environmental benefits of soil health systems for those farmers. The initial pilot program, which will be conducted during 2019, will include cotton producers in Arkansas, Georgia, and North Carolina, according to Cristine Morgan, Ph.D., SHI Chief Scientific Officer.

“This farmer-focused education and training program will be developed and delivered by a qualified team comprised of technical specialists and successful cotton farmers,” Morgan said. “In 2020, the program will expand to Mississippi, Texas, and California.””

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