Category Archives: News

Thank You for Your Proposals!

Thank you to all who have submitted poster proposals, guidelines remain available below for reference.

Have you registered for the annual meeting yet?

SHI Announces Education Resources

The Soil Health Institute Communications and Education Action Team has compiled a catalog of soil health educational resources to help educators teach students and adults about the critical functions that soil plays in sustaining life on earth.

This team identified existing soil health resources – developed by public and private sector organizations – and organized them by audience and subject matter to help educators develop soil health lesson plans and demonstrations; and to help students explain, engage in and advocate for soil health issues, and soil health’s benefits to agriculture, the environment and local communities.

The Soil Health Institute would like to acknowledge Lisa Bellows of North Central Texas College, Gretchen Sassenrath of Kansas State University, Sami Tellatin at University of Missouri, Caroline Wade of The Nature Conservancy, Susan Schultz of SMS Consulting and Earth Team Volunteer, Jessica Handy of Kiss the Ground, Gary Farrell of the Washington State Soil Health Committee and Scott Jones of Regenerative Farming Practices for their contributions.

Please review the catalog here: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/resources/soil-health-educational-resources/

Soil Health Institute Meeting Agenda

The Soil Health Institute has released the Agenda for its Third Annual Meeting, August 1-3 in Albuquerque.  National and international leaders will address such contemporary topics as achieving corporate sustainability goals and environmental markets through soil health, recent advances in understanding the soil microbiome, links between soil health and human health, federal and state policies for advancing soil health, enhancing research-farmer connections for greater adoption, and others. 

If you haven’t registered or reserved your room, full details can be found
here.  We sincerely hope you will join us!

Project Scientist Positions

The Soil Health Institute announces project scientist positions

The Soil Health Institute seeks up to six project scientists to help identify and develop soil health measurements as well as help manage its comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic and environmental outcomes on long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America.

Interested scientists may contact:

ptracy@soilhealthinstitute.org
(208) 315-7000

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

Project Scientist (6 positions)

Soil Science/Crop Science/Agronomy/Microbiology/Range Science/Ecology

Term: 2 years

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization created to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement, located adjacent to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh, North Carolina is seeking up to 6 Project Scientists to participate in a project to evaluate soil health indicators at long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America.  The diverse team of scientists will help conduct and manage the SHI’s initiative to identify and develop widely acceptable soil health measurements, standards, and a comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic and environmental outcomes.

All Project Scientists will work in a geographically-dispersed team designed to collect soil samples and evaluate the utility of soil health indicators for quantifying changes in soil properties as influenced by management, climate, production system, and other parameters across North America.  Depending upon candidates, these 2-year positions may be staffed at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, or at remote locations (university, federal or private facility) as mutually agreed upon by the SHI, respective location administration, and the successful candidate.

Duties Include:

  • Engagement and project coordination with assigned regional long-term agricultural site leaders (15-25 sites per scientist) to evaluate soil health measurements and their relation to productivity, economic and environmental outcomes.
  • Participation and coordination with experimental site personnel, soil sampling and data collection from partnering long-term agricultural sites for soil health indicators in different stages of development.
  • Develop critical analysis and review of measurements, as well as existing soil health evaluation indices and programs at the regional (individual) and North American (team) level.
  • Contribute as the project team’s disciplinary lead for a specific area of expertise.
  • Prepare and publish findings for scientific and agricultural producer/field practitioner audiences.
  • Travel extensively during the site sampling phase of the project.

Qualifications:

  • A Ph.D. in Soil Science, Crop Science, Agronomy, Ecology, Range Science, Soil Microbiology, or related disciplines.
  • Research experience in soil health, agronomy, agricultural production and resource management at the field and laboratory levels.
  • Expertise in field sampling design and statistical analysis is highly recommended.

Application Materials Required:

  • resume/curriculum vitae;
  • college transcripts;
  • 3 references with contact information, including telephone number.

Questions, contact and/or send application materials to:

Paul Tracy, Ph.D.
Project Manager, Soil Health Institute
ptracy@soilhealthinstitute.org
(208) 315-7000

Lead Statistician Position

The Soil Health Institute announces lead statistician/database manager position

The Soil Health Institute seeks a statistician/database manager to develop experimental designs, data management approaches, and data interpretation.  The professional will serve as the project team lead for statistical analysis and data management to assess soil health indicators at long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America.

Interested professionals may contact:
ptracy@soilhealthinstitute.org
(208) 315-7000

POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT

Statistician/Database Manager:  2 to 2.5 Year Appointment

The Soil Health Institute (SHI), a non-profit organization created to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement, located adjacent to the Research Triangle Park (RTP) near Raleigh, North Carolina is seeking a statistician for a project team to evaluate soil health indicators at long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America.  The statistician will work in a diverse team of scientists to help manage the SHI’s initiative to identify and develop widely acceptable soil health measurements, standards, and a comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic and environmental outcomes.

The 2.5-year position will involve developing experimental designs, data management approaches, and data interpretation to assess the utility of soil health indicators and methods to quantify long-term management effects on soil health in North America.  The position may be staffed at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina, or at a remote location (e.g., university, federal or private facility) as mutually agreed to by SHI and the successful candidate.

Duties Include:

  • Serve as the project team lead for statistical analysis and data management.
  • Review existing statistical designs at all participating agricultural research sites.
  • Develop digital database for the project, to include all data for measurements collected and associated environmental and agronomic metadata for each location in the project.
  • Lead the project’s statistical expertise, strategy, and capacity to analyze and interpret experimental data and metadata at all relevant individual site, regional and continental scales.
  • Train project scientists and collaborators on database management and statistical requirements for the project.
  • Provide statistical support for publications released to scientific, agricultural producer and field practitioner audiences.
  • Work with project team members and on-site collaborators on all aspects of the project involving experimental designs, data collection, data management, data analyses, data interpretation, and statistical preparation of publications and other communications for a variety of audiences, including scientists, farmers, consultants, and the public.
  • Travel frequently to site locations, partner facilities, and to the SHI office in Morrisville, NC.

Qualifications:

  • A minimum of a Master’s degree in statistics or related field, plus at least 5 years in experimental design and data management in agricultural or environmental field research are required. A Ph.D. in statistics or related field is strongly preferred.
  • Experience in database design, database management, and GIS is required.
  • Expertise in agricultural/ecological-based multi-site analyses and interpretation is desirable.

Application Materials Required:

  • resume/curriculum vitae;
  • college transcripts;
  • 3 references with contact information, including telephone number.

Questions, contact and/or send application materials to:

Paul Tracy, Ph.D.
Project Manager, Soil Health Institute
ptracy@soilhealthinstitute.org
(208) 315-7000

Save the Date: Soil Health and Human Health Conference

Kickstarter conference on connections between soil health and human health to create a research collaboration roadmap to:

  • Make relevant connections between soil and human health sciences;
  • Identify promising research opportunities;
  • Build interdisciplinary teams to address those research needs; and
  • Propose funding mechanisms that will lead to scientific findings that benefit agriculture, the environment, and the public.

For more information visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org/humanhealthconference

Call For Posters

The Soil Health Institute seeks submissions for Poster Presentations at its Third Annual Meeting to be held August 1-3, 2018 in Albuquerque, NM. Presenters must be present from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., August 1, 2018.

Poster presentations must be relevant to soil health. Information must be sufficiently transparent, detailed, and rigorous to support a scientific discussion.

Online applications are due by 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 1, 2018, and must designate the primary presenter, author(s), primary contact information, and affiliation(s). The application requires an abbreviated abstract, as well as a head/shoulders photograph of the primary presenter that will be used to promote the Poster Session.

Poster Application Deadline – Friday, June 1, 2018

Request for Applications

Soil Health Institute (SHI) Requests Applications to Participate in a North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project:

  1. Join the GIS-Referenced Database on Long-Term Agricultural Experiments
  2. Participate in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project

Submission Deadline: June 29, 2018

Submit requests through the Institute website: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/long-term-agricultural-experiments-directory-project/

Send Questions to: Paul W. Tracy, Project Manager, ptracy@soilhealthinstitute.org or
Steven R. Shafer, Chief Scientific Officer, sshafer@soilhealthinstitute.org

Introduction:

The concept of soil health has captured wide ranging interest across public and private sector agricultural, environmental, and conservation organizations.  This high level of interest is well-placed because soil health represents one of those rare win-win situations where practices that are good for the farmer are also beneficial for the environment.

Research on the physical, chemical, and biological properties of soil has enabled significant advances in managing agricultural soils and supporting increases in yield over the past 100 years.  Several soil health indicators and programs are now in use; however, despite its importance, a widely applicable and universally accepted approach for measuring soil health has not yet been established.  Numerous challenges exist, such as the adaptability of different methods and interpretations for different soils, agricultural production systems, and environments; unclear links among measurements, soil processes, and outcomes; ease and cost of measurement techniques; differences in measurement protocols among analytical laboratories; and others.

To address this need, the Soil Health Institute invites applications to participate in a coordinated, continental scale evaluation of soil health measurements and their relationships with yield, economics, and ecosystem services.  Applications are sought from individuals and organizations engaged in long-term (minimum 10-year) agricultural field experiments in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.  Applications not selected for sampling in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation project may still be included in a publicly-accessible, on-line GIS directory of long-term agricultural research experiments and sites being established to advance collaborations and opportunities for the agricultural community.

Review of applications will be a two-step process.  Reviewers will select sites for inclusion in the directory based on the adequacy of information provided to describe the site and experiments conducted there.  Sites selected for the directory will then be re-reviewed for possible inclusion in the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.  Assessments will be based on strength and completeness of information provided, experimental designs and treatments implemented, data quality and continuity, geographic location relative to other available sites regionally and nationally, and overall potential contribution to evaluating soil health measurements, as detailed below.  All applicants will be notified of the results.

Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria:

To be eligible for the directory, a site must have a minimum of 10 continuous years of land use treatments implemented in a statistically valid experimental design.  Experimental treatments of interest include those that may alter soil properties, such as evaluations associated with tillage type, crop rotation, nutrient management, irrigation, grazing management, cover crops, organic amendments (e.g., manure), production systems (e.g., organic vs. conventional), and others.  All should be compared to one or more controls.

Individuals and organizations conducting such research on governmental, university, and private-sector sites are all encouraged to apply. Experiments selected for inclusion in the directory will then be considered for participation in a North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.  Experiments selected for the Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project will be based on a peer review of the completeness and strength of documentation describing the experiment(s), as noted below.  Requested information includes:

The strongest candidate sites for evaluating soil health measurements and indicators will have well-defined treatment and experimental designs, extensive environmental data, and extensive data on production inputs and outputs, so that indicators can be evaluated in the context of management practices and their impacts in different production systems, environments and soils.

Note: Several sites have already been submitted to SHI for the directory of long-term agricultural experiments.  Because additional information is needed, those sites must respond to this RFA to be considered for the North American Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project.

Selection and Partnering Information:

Those sites selected for inclusion in the directory of long-term agricultural research experiments will be considered for participation in a continental scale evaluation of soil health measurements and programs.  Soils in selected treatments, replications, etc., will be sampled and evaluated with multiple measurements/indicators of soil health that are at different stages of development.  One local representative at each location will be asked to provide the site-specific information necessary for the evaluation (e.g., management history, yield, weather) and help guide the on-site soil sampling process, which is estimated to require 1-2 days per site.  The Soil Health Institute (SHI) will provide soil sampling and handling assistance by assigning SHI Project Scientists to coordinate and participate in sample and data collection activities.  In return, site managers/scientists will have access to all soil analysis data from their site, may participate in the overall project to evaluate and standardize soil health measurements and their interpretations across North America, and will receive an honorarium of $2,500 (one per site, as determined by SHI), if allowed by their host institution.  In addition, each site in the Soil Health Measurement Evaluation Project will be offered funds to cover travel expenses for one site representative to attend a 2-3-day project workshop designed to share site information and facilitate collaborations with representatives from across multiple sites.  Scientific publications will be developed with authorship from sites contributing data and interpretation.

 

Important Note

Site information contained in the GIS-referenced database will be made publicly available through the Soil Health Institute website.  Data from analyses of soils collected at the sites selected for evaluation of soil health measurements will also be available on the SHI website.  Site managers will have access to all raw and interpreted data accumulated from their sites.  They will be encouraged to participate in database management and data interpretation and to work with the data from their sites or in combination with other sites to develop important soil health information for dissemination across the scientific, agricultural production and public policy communities.

Project Timeline:

Request for Applications (RFA) released April 20, 2018
Long-term site directory and evaluation applications due June 29, 2018
Develop site plans for data and metadata collection Aug. 31, 2018
Workshops for long-term site representatives Sept. to Nov. 2018
Sample collection Jan. to May 2019
Laboratory and data analyses Jan. to Oct.  2019
Interpretation and preparation of publications Oct. 2019 to Dec. 2020

How to Apply:

An application form is provided on the Soil Health Institute’s website at this link: https://soilhealthinstitute.org/long-term-agricultural-experiments-directory-project/.  Multiple experiments/sites submitted from the same site manager/team will require separate applications.  Applications are due by June 29, 2018.
Download Electronic Form

North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements

The concept of soil health is gaining widespread attention because it promotes agricultural practices that are not only good for the farmer and rancher, but also good for the environment.

An abundance of research shows that improving soil health:

  • boosts crop yield,
  • enhances water quality,
  • increases drought resilience,
  • reduces greenhouse gas emissions,
  • increases carbon sequestration,
  • provides pollinator habitat, and
  • builds disease suppression.

However, lack of widely-applicable measurements and methods for assessing soil health are significant barriers to adopting soil health practices and systems. Read the full release and see the complete list of indicators and methods here.

Earth Day Calls for Conservation

Opinion: Earth Day calls for conservation that starts from the ground up – literally

This Earth Day, it may be the earth right under our feet that matters most. While we do not think about it often, our soil impacts almost every element of our daily lives, from the food we eat and the water we drink, to the health of our local economies. Just ask any farmer, who will tell you that healthy soil is good for farms, farmers and farming communities because it leads to more productive farmland, cleaner water and a stronger agricultural economy.

Here in the Midwest, row crops like corn, soybeans and wheat are the cornerstone of the region’s economy, generating more than $120 billion in revenue annually. But, over the decades, growing these crops has taken a heavy toll on farms and the quality of the water that surrounds them.

Since the mid-1800s, agricultural soils in the U.S. have lost up to 60 percent of their original carbon content. This has altered the Midwestern landscape by exacerbating loss of key nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus that farmers add to the soil in the form of fertilizer. These nutrients are essential to growing soybeans and corn but are often unintentionally lost to rivers and streams, where they become pollutants and waste farmers’ money.

Today, in regions like the Mississippi River Basin, up to 40 percent of all streams are impaired, many from excess nutrients. Ultimately, these nutrients end up in the Gulf of Mexico and create ‘dead zones’ where fish and marine life can’t survive.

But this isn’t just about the environment; it’s about our economy. Losing nutrients into rivers and streams is bad for farm economics, and long-term profitability and prosperity of farms. However, many farmers have found that environmentally-friendly tactics that improve water quality also build soil health and also their bottom lines.

Read the Full Article Here: https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/10876-opinion-earth-day-calls-for-conservation-that-starts-from-the-ground-up—literally