Category Archives: News

Soil Health Institute to collaborate with Truterra on TruCarbon™

Soil Health Institute to collaborate with Truterra on TruCarbon™ metrics and soil sampling protocols

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the global non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, is collaborating with Truterra as the scientific partner for soil metrics and sampling design for TruCarbon, the first farmer-owned carbon program in the U.S.

TruCarbon is a transformational new carbon program that will help farmers generate and sell carbon credits to private sector buyers. For the initial launch, SHI will develop the soil sampling design and methodologies for qualifying farmers to be compensated for the carbon they have sequestered retroactively, over the last five years, by adopting soil health practices in prior growing seasons.

Microsoft is the first secured buyer that will purchase the vintage carbon credits toward its ambitious commitment to be carbon negative by 2030.

“TruCarbon is like no other offering on the market because it is built with the farmer at the center, backed by the most cutting-edge technology platform on the market. That means that companies and others looking to buy trusted carbon credits can connect with farmers and support the adoption of more sustainable practices on farms across the country,” said Jason Weller, Vice President, Truterra. “We are excited to be able to bring this program to farmers through our trusted network of ag retailers, offering a competitive price and streamlined experience so that they can stay focused on farming and their stewardship.”

The earth is warming due to excessive amounts of greenhouse gases being released in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. An important opportunity for addressing this issue is to sequester more carbon in soils, and scientists at SHI are publishing peer-reviewed studies showing that soil health systems are very effective at doing this.

“The science is clear,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute, “Storing more carbon in soils not only benefits a farmer’s bottom line, but also improves water quality and helps fight climate change. Farmers who adopt soil health practices build drought resilience, reduce erosion and minimize nutrient losses. All of us at the Soil Health Institute are excited to work with Truterra on this project because it will help achieve these on-farm and environmental benefits at scale.”

The Soil Health Institute will provide technical assistance to support the soil sampling strategy and design, field and laboratory methodologies, data analysis and quantification of the carbon sequestered in soils by participating farmers.

Interested farmers can find out more about the program and enroll at www.truterraag.com/CarbonSurvey.

About the Soil Health Institute
The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. We bring together leaders in soil health science and the industry to help farmers, ranchers and landowners adopt soil health systems that build in drought resiliency, stabilize yields and benefit their bottom line.

The Institute’s team of scientists, holding doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, has developed highly effective soil health targets and standardized measurements to quantify progress at achieving regenerative and sustainable agricultural systems, and leads the cutting-edge fields of carbon sequestration and decoding the soil microbiome.

Healthy soils are the foundation for rejuvenating our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help agriculture and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale.

Visit soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more and follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

About Truterra, LLC
Truterra is a leading stewardship solutions provider, advancing and connecting sustainability efforts throughout the food system with scale – from farmers to ag retailers to collaborators such as food companies. Truterra positions farmers for success by providing them tools and resources to establish a stewardship baseline and track progress on every field they farm. The Truterra™ network brings together the best in agricultural technology and on-farm business management to drive sustainability across the food system, feeding people, safeguarding the planet and supporting farmer livelihoods. Truterra was launched in 2016 by Land O’Lakes, Inc., a member-owned cooperative that spans the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods.

See the news release

Partnering with the Soil Health Institute Benefits Agriculture and the Environment

Partnering with the Soil Health Institute

In the last 10 years, “soil health” has evolved from an obscure concept to a central tenet that is the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture. The Soil Health Institute champions the agricultural practices and systems that will provide nutritious food for a growing population, arrest climate change, conserve and enhance natural resources, and support the individuals who will achieve these benefits for the rest of us – our world’s farmers.
As a leading voice in this evolution, the Soil Health Institute is fortunate to partner with hundreds of individuals and organizations to address key barriers to widescale adoption of soil health systems. The Institute’s recent and forthcoming advances include:

    • Providing a comprehensive strategy for advancing soil health
    • Performing economic assessments of soil health systems on 125 farms
    • Identifying the most effective soil health measurements for everyone to use across North America (and likely beyond)
    • Offering on-farm and classroom soil health training programs for farmers and their advisers
    • Creating new tools for building on-farm drought resilience
    • Establishing locally relevant soil health targets for benchmarking current status and measuring progress
    • Assessing the soil health impacts on greenhouse gas emissions at 90 sites in more than 30 states
    • Launching online databases with more than 13,000 soil health references, almost 300 state-level programs and policies, and over 40 resources for K-12 educational programs
    • Analyzing over 60 Farm Bill programs/provisions on soil health
    • Briefing Congress to promote well-informed policies
    • Conducting an assessment of soil health practice adoption across the U.S.
    • Producing the Living Soil documentary, available for free on YouTube, with accompanying lesson plans
    • Developing online resources for farmers and consumers on soil health practices, economics, ecosystem services, measurements, climate change, communications and others

Soil scientist

These programs and accomplishments have provided the Soil Health Institute with the knowledge, experience and capacity to offer a range of partnership opportunities for advancing the science and practicality of soil health, including:

  • Strategic planning and implementation on local to global scales
  • Soil health measurements to establish baselines and achievable soil health targets
  • Soil carbon measurement and interpretation that supports carbon markets
  • Soil health training for farmers, consultants, government and private field conservationists
  • On-farm economic assessments of locally relevant soil health systems
  • Environmental assessments of conservation practices ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to water quality
  • Providing evidence-based information for state and federal policies
  • Conducting basic to applied research and development, ranging from the soil microbiome to decision-support tools and apps for farmers
  • and many others

 

We invite agencies, businesses, farmers, and other interested parties to reach out today to explore how the Soil Health Institute can help integrate soil health into your agricultural and environmental goals.  Please contact us here

Cotton Farmer Showcase

Eight informative discussions with farmers & specialists

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, invites you to join eight online discussions with U.S. cotton farmers and soil health experts who are improving soil health and evaluating its return on investment.

The Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Farmer Showcase events will be livestreamed beginning 2 p.m. (EST), Tuesday, February 2, 2021 and run every Tuesday through March.  Cotton producers, consultants and other interested parties may register one time to participate in each showcase and receive notifications for each event. Registration is free but required to participate.

Learn more and register here.

HEALTHY SOILS FOR SUSTAINABLE COTTON FARMER SHOWCASE
Illuminating Discussions with Cotton Growers and Leaders on Improving Soil Health in Eight States

BUILDING SOIL HEALTH – THE FOUNDATION OF REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Episode 1 Date Speakers
Soil Health Challenges in the Delta: What Works and What Doesn’t February 2, 2021 Mr. Sledge Taylor, Farmer, Como, MS
Mr. Parker Frew, Delta F.A.R.M.

SPOTLIGHT ON MISSISSIPPI

The Delta, with its fine-grained, dark soils and sometimes significant pressures from tough weeds such as Palmer amaranth or extreme weather such as a slow-moving hurricane, demands special skills from its cotton growers.

  • Improving internal soil drainage
  • Capturing more rainfall in the soil profile
  • Increasing soil organic matter
Episode 2 Date Speakers
Soil Health in Texas: Lessons from Long-term Study Sites February 9, 2021 Dr. Paul DeLaune, Texas AgriLife Professor Environmental Soil Science

Dr. Jamie Foster, Texas AgriLife Professor Forages

Dr. Katie Lewis, Texas AgriLife Associate Professor Soil Fertility and Chemistry

HIGH PLAINS REGION

Dr. Murilo Maeda, Texas AgriLife Assistant Professor and Cotton Specialist

Dr. Jourdan Bell, Texas AgriLife Associate Professor and Extension Specialist

Mr. Jeremy Brown, Farmer, Lubbock, TX

Mr. Barry Evans, Farmer, Lubbock, TX

ROLLING PLAINS REGION

Dr. Emi Kimura, Assistant Professor, Texas AgriLife Agronomist and Extension State Peanut Specialist

SOUTH TEXAS REGION

Dr. Josh McGinty, Texas AgriLife Associate Professor and Extension Specialist

SPOTLIGHT ON TEXAS

Explore the local challenges and benefits of adopting practices to improve soil health across Texas. Farmers’ experiences are compared to lessons from Texas A&M long-term study sites.

  • Managing cover crops to minimize water use
  • Improving soil moisture levels
  • Increasing soil organic matter levels
Episode 3 Date Speakers
Soil Health in Arkansas: Is it Profitable? February 16, 2021 Dr. Bill Robertson, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Cotton Agronomist

Mr. Matt Fryer, University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Soil Instructor

Mr. Adam Chappell, Farmer, Cotton Plant, AR

Mr. Jess Flye, Farmer, Trumann, AR

Mr. Wes Kirkpatrick, Farmer, Dumas, AR

SPOTLIGHT ON ARKANSAS

Three cotton producers with different levels of experience related to soil health practices and activities – as well as different views about tillage and cover crops – discuss growing cotton and farming for soil health in Arkansas. This webinar dives into economic data as well.

  • Addressing resistant Palmer pigweed pressures
  • Improving water infiltration
  • Reducing crusting
  • Reducing expenses for profitability
Episode 4 Date Speakers
Improving Soil Health in a Dry Climate February 23, 2021 Dr. Jeff Mitchell, University of California, Davis

Mr. John Teixeira, Farmer, Firebaugh, CA

Mr. Gary Martin, Farmer, Mendota, CA

Mr. Cary Crum, California Ag Solutions Crop Consultant, Madera, CA

SPOTLIGHT ON CALIFORNIA

Growers in a dry climate face specific cotton production challenges as they manage for moisture and overcome low organic matter, especially if they strive to build ecologically sensitive farming systems. California producers and soil health experts evaluate the best practices that hold promise in the state.

  • Managing cover crops in an organic system
  • Using soil amendments to improve soil (poultry and compost)
Episode 5 Date Speakers
Soil Health in a Cotton and Peanut Rotation March 2, 2021 Mr. Peyton Sapp, University of Georgia, Burke County Extension Coordinator

Mr. Burton Heatwole, Farmer, Millen, GA

SPOTLIGHT ON GEORGIA

When cotton growers rotate with peanuts, they obviously navigate a less-traveled journey toward improved soil health, focusing on strategic crop rotation, best timing of cover crops, and balanced nutrient uptake. In this episode of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Farmer Showcase, Georgia growers discuss practices that work well in their efforts to enhance long-term sustainability.

  • Increasing soil organic matter
  • Assessing benefits of multi-species cover crops
  • Capturing more rainfall in the soil profile

 

Episode 6 Date Speakers
Soil Health: View from the Cotton Gin March 9, 2021 Mr. Robbie Waters, Edwards Cotton Company, Scotland Neck, NC

Mr. Zeb Winslow, Farmer, Scotland Neck, NC

SPOTLIGHT ON NORTH CAROLINA AND VIRGINIA

When you’ve evaluated cotton bales for years and built relationships with area cotton producers, you’re bound to have insight into which production practices pay year-after-year. In this episode, we ask a local cotton ginner to share his perspective of soil health benefits for the area’s cotton producers. Then, we talk with a local producer about his experiences, especially focusing on cover crop seeding and termination.

  • Does improving soil health impact cotton quality?
  • Planting and terminating cover crops to reduce cost and maximize benefits
Episode 7 Date Speakers
Lessons from 8 Years of Regenerative Agriculture March 16, 2021 Dr. Buz Kloot, Research Associate Professor, University of South Carolina

Mr. Doug Newton, Farmer, Clio, SC

Mr. Jason Carter, Farmer, Eastover, SC

SPOTLIGHT ON THE CAROLINAS

After multiple years of experimentation and learning from their cotton fields, these producers discuss how to maximize the impact of soil health promoting practices on their Coastal Plain soils.

  • Improving a degraded nutrient cycle
  • Increasing soil organic matter
  • Reducing resistant weed pressure
Episode 8 Date Speakers
Why Soil Health is Important to the Future of U.S. Cotton March 23, 2021 Regenerative Agriculture Leaders:

Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, Soil Health Institute

Mr. Greg Bohrer, Walmart.org

Dr. Jesse Daystar, Cotton Incorporated

 

SPOTLIGHT ON REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

This conversation asks important questions of key regenerative agriculture leaders:

  • Why are companies becoming so interested in soil health?
  • Do data support that consumers are demanding regenerative practices? Are they willing to pay more for them?
  • Will soil health and regenerative agriculture practices be mandatory in the future?
  • Will growers see any financial reimbursements or incentives?

The Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Farmer Showcase is part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, which provides farmer-focused education and training events delivered by Soil Health Institute scientists, partnering with local soil health technical specialists and farmer mentors who have implemented successful soil health management systems. The project aims to increase the adoption of soil health management systems among cotton producers while documenting environmental and economic benefits.

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton is supported through the generosity of the Wrangler® brand, the VF Corporation Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. For more information about the project, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/soil-health-training/.  To register and learn more about the virtual Farmer Showcase events, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/soil-health-training/farmer-showcase/.

See the news release.

Two Novel Measurements Detect Differences in Soil Health Management Systems

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announces a recent publication authored by SHI’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Cristine Morgan, and Research Soil Scientist, Dr. Dianna Bagnall, is now available, open source, in Soil and Tillage Research.

The study, entitled “SLAKES and 3D Scans characterize management effects on soil structure in farm fields,” investigated the impact of no-till on soil structure and hydraulic function in the Lower and Middle Brazos River Watershed of Texas using measurements of saturated hydraulic conductivity, organic carbon, bulk density, slaking index of soil aggregates (inversely related to aggregate stability), and soil structure. The research was conducted in farm fields under three management systems: conventional tillage, no-till, and perennial grass. Soil structure was measured using multistripe laser triangulation, a novel method for 3D scanning of soil surface horizons. Slaking index was measured using a recently developed smartphone application called SLAKES.

No-till adoption shifted the soil health of row crop farm fields to be more like that of perennial grass fields. Organic carbon was significantly higher in no-till compared to conventionally tilled fields and hydraulic conductivity was 1.3 cm h-1 higher in no-till. As well, soil structure measured from 10 to 30 cm depth was significantly improved in no-till compared to conventional tillage. Improvements in organic carbon and soil hydraulic function are meaningful indicators of improved soil health and can also provide ecosystem services to off-site stakeholders. The two novel measurements (3D scanning of soil structure and slaking index from a smartphone application) were particularly able to detect differences between management systems.

Access the publication now through https://authors.elsevier.com/sd/article/S0167-1987(20)30675-9

Fall Newsletter 2020

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) has released its Fall Soil Health News, showcasing forward momentum on soil health adoption and research. The issue shares highlights from SHI’s 5th Annual Meeting with links to the conference sessions, conference report and video poster sessions.

The newsletter’s articles include:

  • How Soil Health Can Achieve Net Zero Carbon Emissions for U.S. Agriculture
  • “Assessing Soil Health” Webinar Series Delivers Information on Measuring and Assessing Soil Health
  • SHI Awarded $3.25 Million from ARPA-E to Develop Soil Carbon Measurement and Monitoring System
  • The Business Case for Adopting Soil Health Management Systems – A Project Update
  • NAPESHM UPDATE: Progress on Identifying Most Effective Measurements
  • Virtual Field Days Focus on Soil Health Promoting Practices in Cotton
  • Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Named Field to Market Spotlight Honoree
  • Cotton & Covers: Farmers Share Their Soil Health Journey
  • Cristine Morgan, SHI Chief Scientific Officer, Named Soil Science of America Fellow

SHI also announces its new Scientific Advisory Committee.

Read the newsletter here.

Living Soil Surpasses 1 MILLION Views

Today, we celebrate the 2nd Anniversary of Living Soil, which has become the nation’s premier soil health documentary. Living Soil has now passed 1 MILLION views!

Living Soil in the Classroom

We invite you to share Living Soil with your local schools. The primary learning goal is to help students develop an understanding of why soil health is important and identify ways that professionals in production agriculture work to improve the health of our nation’s soils, ultimately benefiting all members of society.

Free lesson plans are included for high school and college faculty use. These lesson plans are designed to accompany the Living Soil film and are appropriate to classes in agriculture, natural resources, environment, ecology, biology or human nutrition and food systems.

Lesson Plans

“Educating consumers about the on-farm and environmental benefits of healthy soils can help create more demand for food, fiber, and fuel grown using soil health systems. The Living Soil documentary was created and produced with that goal in mind, so we can achieve the many environmental benefits of healthy soils at a much grander scale,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “We thank everyone who has viewed and especially shared the documentary. My only ask is this: Please keep it up!”

The 60-minute film captures the history – and significance – of the soil health movement, beginning with painful images of the Dust Bowl, and then transitioning to personal experiences of innovative women and men who are managing their land to enhance soil health. Living Soil features rural and urban farmers from Maryland to California, producing everything from corn to floral bouquets, united by their care for the soil.

The documentary was directed by Ms. Chelsea Myers of Tiny Attic Productions and produced by the Soil Health Institute through the generous support of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation. It is available free of charge and is currently being translated into multiple languages.
Watch the film here: https://livingsoilfilm.com/

Dr. Cristine Morgan Named SSSA Fellow

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced that the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) will recognize Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer of the Soil Health Institute, as a 2020 SSSA Fellow. The annual award is presented for outstanding contributions to soil science through education, national and international service, and research.

Dr. Morgan develops scientific strategy and implementation for SHI’s research. She holds a B.S. from Texas A&M University in Environmental Soil and Plant Sciences and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Read the full story here: https://www.3blmedia.com/News/Dr-Cristine-Morgan-Soil-Health-Institute-Chief-Scientific-Officer-Named-Soil-Science-Society

SHI Scientists Present at ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting

SHI scientists will present at the 2020 ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting “Translating Visionary Science to Practice” on November 9-13, 2020. The event is virtual, and presentations are available for on-demand viewing throughout the meeting beginning at 9:00am Central on November 9. On-demand presentations will continue to be accessible via the meeting platform for three months.

To register for the event and access SHI talks, visit https://www.acsmeetings.org/register.

We encourage ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meeting attendees to view these presentations, as well as those in the Measuring and Assessing Soil Health oral session, by searching the title or presenter name in the meeting platform starting on November 9th.


Presentations by SHI Scientists

A Comprehensive Strategy to Advance Adoption of Soil Health Systems
Presented by C. Wayne Honeycutt, Ph.D., President and CEO

The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements: Overview and Direction
Presented by Cristine Morgan, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

A Comprehensive Approach to Securing Soil, Agriculture, and the Environment
Presented by Cristine Morgan, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

Measuring and Assessing Soil Health
Presented by Cristine Morgan, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer

Economic Assessment of Adoption of Soil Health Management Systems
Presented by John Shanahan, Ph.D., Project Manager – Agronomy

Management-Sensitive Pedotransfer Functions for Plant-Available Water Holding Capacity
Presented by Dianna Bagnall, Ph.D., Research Soil Scientist

Comparing the usefulness of nitrogen measurements used in soil health assessments
Presented by Shannon Cappellazzi, Ph.D., Lead Project Scientist

Towards Quantitative Ratings That Reflect Soil Health Principles: Soil Tillage Intensity
Presented by Michael Cope, Ph.D., Statistician and Database Manager

Soil Hydraulic Properties: Measurement Response to Soil Health Management
Presented by G. Mac Bean, Ph.D., Project Scientist

Assessing the sensitivity and utility of aggregate stability methods for soil health evaluation
Presented by Kelsey L.H. Greub, Ph.D., Project Scientist

Carbon Indicators of Soil Health: Relationships Among Indicators and the Role of Management and Intrinsic Factors
Presented by Daniel Liptzin, Ph.D., Project Scientist

Assessment of targeted amplicon sequencing as an indicator of soil health
Presented by Elizabeth Rieke, Ph.D., Project Scientist

Comparing Soil Carbon Measurements from Long-Term Agricultural Experiments across the United States with Comet-Farm Estimations
Presented by Paul Tracy, Ph.D, Project Agronomist

Soil Health and Its Relationship to the 4R’s of Nutrient Management
Presented by Paul Tracy, Ph.D, Project Agronomist

Farmer Peer Networks Building Healthy Soils for Cotton

When it comes to understanding the sustainability of U.S. cotton, Soil Health Institute (SHI) conservationist David Lamm always returns to the soil. “When producers use management practices that complement how soils function, particularly to support cotton production, they realize that they do not have to accept degraded soil as the norm,” reflects Lamm. “Soil is supposed to cycle nutrients, retain water and buffer against pollutants. It’s a complex biological ecosystem. We are trying to help producers see the soil as a living ecosystem.”

As a conservationist and Project Manager for SHI, Lamm is on the forefront of scaling adoption of positive soil health practices across the cotton belt. The Soil Health Institute launched its Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Project in three states in 2019, participating in Field to Market’s Continuous Improvement Accelerator, with financial support from the Walmart Foundation, VF Foundation, and Wrangler.

“It’s exciting that the industry is wanting to show their consumers that the cotton they use is being grown in a sustainable way,” says Lamm. “Implementing soil health management systems is a very effective way to meet sustainability standards for the cotton industry.”

Read the full story here: https://fieldtomarket.org/farmer-spotlight-series/farmer-peer-networks-building-healthy-soils-for-cotton/

Soil Health Institute Announces Virtual Field Days

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, released today virtual soil health field days. The video tours include conversations with cotton growers and soil health specialists in Arkansas and South Carolina, according to David Lamm, Project Manager of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton. The series of 13 videos are publicly available on SHI’s YouTube Channel.

Read the full release here: https://www.3blmedia.com/News/Soil-Health-Institute-Announces-Virtual-Field-Days-Focus-Soil-Health-Promoting-Practices-Cotton