Category Archives: News

Soil Health Institute Releases 5th Annual Meeting Videos

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released information-packed videos of speaker presentations from its 5th Annual Meeting.

Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture was held July 30-31, 2020, as a virtual forum with 28 speakers advancing opportunities to address climate change, water quality, food production, biodiversity, and many other pressing issues by improving soil health. Presentations addressed the actionable potential of soil health, including preliminary suggestions on how the agricultural industry can measure soil function in the future and the role of farmers and ranchers in combating global climate change and its impacts. In addition, 26 researchers provided three-minute video research presentations and discussed their research with online attendees.

Soil health leaders discussed key drivers of soil health adoption. The keynote was 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.

SHI evaluated more than 30 different indicators of soil health in order to provide the agricultural industry with a short list of the most effective measurements farmers and ranchers can use to improve soil health. Moreover, SHI scientists described projects to evaluate the profitability of soil health systems; a farmer-led soil health training program; and research on how soil health relates to water quality, carbon sequestration, and drought resilience.

During the meeting, soil health leaders discussed new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill that have an impact on the U.S. soil health movement. Farmers reviewed soil health practices that provide a demonstrated return on investment. Finally, speakers looked towards the future, identifying benefits that may arise from better understanding the soil microbiome.

Videos of annual meeting presentations are available here.

Noble Research Institute’s 75th Anniversary

The Soil Health Institute congratulates the Noble Research Institute on its 75th anniversary. The need for such an organization to assist farmers and ranchers with regenerating their soils, building drought resilience, and managing lands sustainably is arguably even more urgent today than it was when first established in 1945. The Soil Health Institute is honored to be a partner on that journey, contributing to the vision of Lloyd Noble for advancing agriculture and land stewardship for current and future generations.

Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, marks the 75th anniversary of Noble Research Institute and the beginning of a year-long celebration of agricultural producers, the land that provides for our collective well-being, and the organization’s future.

Since its founding in 1945, Noble Research Institute has supported farmers and ranchers through education, research and consultation as they steward the nation’s grazing lands and soil.

Founder and philanthropist Lloyd Noble created his organization as a resource to work beside individuals to rebuild the soil and provide lasting stability for an economy in the aftermath of the Dust Bowl.

Read the full article here: https://www.noble.org/news/releases/noble-research-institute-celebrates-75-years/

Climate Week: Reach Net Zero Carbon

Join us as the Soil Health Institute hosts the “Achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions in U.S. Agriculture through Soil Health” webinar during Climate Week 2020, September 22, 2:30p.m.-3:45p.m. ET.

Presentations by the Soil Health Institute, Cargill, and Walmart.org will describe the overall strategy and work being conducted that will allow the U.S. agricultural sector to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. The webinar will conclude with a discussion period between the audience and panelists.

See the agenda here.

Review speaker bios here.

Register here.

Cotton & Covers: Farmers Share Their Soil Health Journey

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, will release Cotton & Covers, a Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton video series, August 20, 2020. The series follows three Southeastern cotton producers as they discuss their individual journeys to build profitable soil health management systems on their farms. Each producer is a mentor to other farmers in SHI’s soil health training program, working with other farmers to expand their knowledge of soil health systems and to overcome barriers to adoption.

New videos will be made available weekly through September, according to David Lamm, Project Manager of Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton. The series will be publicly available on SHI’s YouTube Channel and Soil Health Training webpage.

“These farmer mentors, who are working with cotton producers in their state to build soil health management systems on their farms, have fascinating stories to tell,” Lamm explains. “Their observations, as they reduced tillage and added multi-species cover crops, provide insight that will be useful to others who are either just starting the journey or are well on their way to improve the health of their soils.”

The series features Sonny Price from Dillon, South Carolina; Zeb Winslow from Scotland Neck, North Carolina; and Burton Heatwole from Millen, Georgia. The cotton producers discuss why they decided to explore soil health promoting practices and the benefits they’ve discovered as they experimented with reduced tillage, increased cover crop species diversity, and livestock grazing.

“Being able to take care of your soil, and let your soil take care of you…that’s the road we’re headed down,” explains Heatwole, who adopted a soil health management system to increase soil organic matter and water infiltration on his Georgia farm.

The video series is part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, which provides farmer-focused education and training events delivered by SHI 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 and access to the webinar series, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/soil-health-training/.

Soil Health Webinar Series created for Certified Crop Advisers

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), in partnership with the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) and the Walton Family Foundation, announced today the Assessing Soil Health webinar series. The series seeks to expand Certified Crop Advisers’ (CCA), Certified Professional Agronomists’ (CPAg) and Certified Professional Soil Scientists’ (CPSS) knowledge of soil health. All webinars in the series are free to all CCAs, CPAgs, CPSSs and Tri-Society members, and Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are available.

The series begins July 21, 2020, with a webinar on Measures of Soil Water Cycling presented by Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer at SHI. Additional webinar topics include measuring carbon cycling, nitrogen cycling and the soil microbiome, as well as standard measurements for soil health and soil heath economics. The majority of webinars will be presented by SHI Project Scientists from the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements (NAPESHM), a continental-scale analysis to recommend the most effective measurements to evaluate soil health.

“Certified Crop Advisers play an integral role in advancing the adoption of soil health management systems,” says Dr. Morgan. “These systems enable outcomes such as improved water quality, increased soil carbon storage, drought resilience, and nutrient cycling. This series aims to elevate knowledge and awareness of soil health management and measurement and to provide useful tools for understanding and enabling the adoption of soil health and regenerative agriculture practices.”

The Assessing Soil Health webinar series offers CEUs to CCA, CPAg, CPSS and other professionals certified through SSSA, the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the Crop Science Society of America. Topics selected reflect feedback from a survey conducted by SHI and ASA to better understand the needs of farmer advisers and CCAs regarding current and desired soil health knowledge.

The series has been produced by SHI and SSSA. It is sponsored through the generosity of the Walton Family Foundation.

To register for the first webinar of the series, visit https://www.soils.org/education/online-courses/webinar-series-soil-health.

To learn more about the NAPESHM project, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/north-american-project-to-evaluate-soil-health-measurements/.

Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton Named Field to Market Spotlight Honoree

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the nonprofit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing soil health, is proud to announce it has been recognized as part of Field to Market’s 2020 Project Spotlight Series! As part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, SHI works with other members across the food and ag value chain to support farmers in improving outcomes in soil health. Field to Market recognized the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, on June 24 during its annual Plenary and General Assembly Meeting, recognizing this outstanding cross-sector partnership for advancing continuous improvements in sustainable outcomes for U.S. commodity agriculture.

Watch for an article on Field to Market’s Spotlight section of its website later this year.

OFRF and FFAR Announce Grants for Soil Health Research

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are pleased to award three grants to researchers in California, Pennsylvania, and Texas to bolster soil health by developing innovative organic strategies for controlling weeds, pests, and disease. OFRF and FFAR formed a partnership in 2019 to increase funding for research that improves soil health and reduces environmental impacts.

“Developing bold strategies to mitigate pest, weed, and pathogen damage is critical to improving environmental health,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “FFAR is proud to partner with OFRF to fund innovative soil health management techniques that enhance crop productivity and support thriving farms.”

Martin Guerena with the National Center for Appropriate Technology was awarded $17,337 to measure the efficacy of biosolarization—a new innovation in the realm of weed control that combines soil solarization (trapping solar radiation under a plastic tarp) with biofumigation (using biologically-active plant substances to suppress soil-borne pests and pathogens). Biosolarization includes the incorporation of organic amendments such as compost, cover crops, and green manure under solarization plastic. The carbon from these organic materials produces chemicals with bio-pesticidal activity, which acts as a fumigant when heated by the sun to eliminate weeds, and soil-borne pests and diseases. The research team aims to show that biosolarization can achieve equal or better weed control in less time compared to solarization alone. The research is taking place on three organic farms in the Sacramento Valley in northern California.

Read the full release here.

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/.