Category Archives: News

Soil Health Institute Selects Seven Scientists, Begins Sampling Phase of North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements

(Pictured L-R) Sean Bloszies Ph.D., Gregory Macfarland Bean Ph.D., Michael Cope Ph.D., Paul Tracy Ph.D., Kelsey Hoegenauer Ph.D., Charlotte Norris Ph.D. P.Ag., Elizabeth Rieke Ph.D., Daniel Liptzin Ph.D., Shannon Cappellazzi Ph.D.

The project will assess 31 indicators of soil health, partnering with teams from long-term research sites and scientific laboratories across Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, Jan. 22, 2019 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the nonprofit organization charged with safeguarding and enhancing soil health, has selected six project scientists and a statistician/database manager to oversee evaluation of soil health indicators at more than 120 long-term agricultural experiment sites across Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The diverse team of scientists will help conduct and manage SHI’s initiative to identify and develop widely acceptable soil health measurements and standards, as well as launch a comprehensive evaluation program that relates soil health to quantified productivity, economic, and environmental outcomes.

“These scientists will work as a geographically-dispersed team to collect soil samples and evaluate the utility of soil health indicators. They will compare soil properties that have been changed by management, climate, production system, and other parameters across North America,” said Paul Tracy, Project Manager, Soil Science/Agronomy.

The scientists will be in charge of regional engagement and project coordination with long-term agricultural site leaders. They will evaluate soil health measurements and their relation to productivity, economic and environmental outcomes; developing critical analysis and review of measurements, soil health evaluation indices and programs at the regional (individual) and North American (team) level, partnering with site leaders and selected scientific laboratories.

Mac Bean, Ph.D., will serve as SHI’s project scientist for Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and West Virginia. He also will lead the team for soil pedology and genesis. Most recently, Bean focused on improving nitrogen fertilizer management as a graduate student at the University of Missouri.

Bean is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, and the International Society of Precision Agriculture. He received his B.S. in Agricultural Science, Systems, and Technology from Brigham Young University-Idaho, his M.S. in Plant Science and his Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Missouri.

Shannon Cappellazzi, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the western United States.  She also will coordinate the soil health team’s pastures and rangeland research. Cappellazzi most recently served as Manager at the Oregon State University Central Analytical Laboratory. Earlier in her career, she was the Equestrian Manager for Wheelbarrow Creek Ranch and an agricultural commodities trader for Wilbur-Ellis Company.

Capellazzi is a member of the Soil Science Society of America and serves as a board member of the Oregon Society of Soil Scientists. She received her B.S. in Animal Science and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from Oregon State University.

Kelsey Hoegenauer, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the southern United States. Most recently, Hoegenauer was a graduate research assistant at the University of Arkansas conducting research on recycling nutrients using cover crops in row crop systems. She also has served as a graduate research assistant at Auburn University conducting research on the long- and short-term effects of cover cropping on physical and chemical soil properties in a peanut-cotton rotation. As a Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture (The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation), she conducted research on blackberry management in rangelands.

Hoegenauer is a member of the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, and Soil and Water Conservation Society. She received her B.S. in Agronomy from Texas A&M University, M.S. in Plant Science from Auburn University, and Ph.D. in Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences (Soil Fertility emphasis) from the University of Arkansas.

Daniel Liptzin, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the High Plains Region, providing team leadership on soil enzymes and carbon cycling. Liptzin recently served as a Senior Instructor at the University of Colorado, Denver, where he taught courses in biogeochemistry, environmental science, and climate. His research interests include exploring human effects on the nitrogen cycle, interactions among elemental cycles, redox-sensitive biogeochemistry, and ecosystem processes in seasonally snow-covered ecosystems.

Liptzin is a member of the American Geophysical Union and an investigator at the Niwot Ridge Long Term Ecological Research Site in Colorado. He received his B.S. from Yale University, MES from the University of Pennsylvania, and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Charlotte Norris, Ph.D., P.Ag., will serve as project scientist for Canada. Norris has collaborated on research determining best management practices for intensive vegetable production, assessing the effects of agricultural crops on soil health, and evaluating the effects of forest harvesting practices on soil health. This has included investigating indicators of soil health in reclaimed forest ecosystems.

Norris holds a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Victoria and received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Alberta. She is a registered Professional Agrologist.

Elizabeth (Liz) Rieke, Ph.D., will serve as project scientist for the northern Midwest and northeastern United States. She will also lead SHI’s assessment of microbial population dynamics using genomic tools as soil health indicators. Most recently, Rieke served as a postdoctoral research associate, Iowa State University Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering.

Rieke is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers. She received her B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech, her M.S. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and her Ph.D. in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering from Iowa State University.

Michael Cope, Ph.D., will serve as the team’s statistician and database manager. Most recently, Cope served as a statistical and research analyst at Clemson University. His expertise includes analysis of large and assorted data. He is skilled in Python Programming, Soil Science, Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Modeling, and Cloud Computing.

Cope received his B.S. in Environmental Studies from Brevard College and his Ph.D. in Forest Resources from Clemson University.

The North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements is supported through the generosity of grants from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and General Mills. To learn more about the project, visit

Read the news release here.

New Chief Scientific Officer

Soil Health Institute Names Dr. Cristine Morgan as Chief Scientific Officer-

Dr. Cristine Morgan has been named Chief Scientific Officer​ of the Soil Health Institute.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., December 18, 2018 — The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announced today that one of the nation’s premier Soil Scientists, Dr. Cristine Morgan, will serve as its Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Morgan will replace Dr. Steven Shafer who recently retired after serving in the position since 2016.

“Dr. Morgan brings a unique combination of technical, educational, and leadership experience to the position,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO.  “Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Morgan has conducted ground-breaking research on how management practices influence soil-plant-water relations. She has also developed methods that were adopted by USDA for easily measuring soil carbon. She has a history of applying her knowledge for addressing real-world problems experienced by farmers and ranchers and is passionate about educating others along the way.”

Dr. Morgan comes to the Soil Health Institute after serving as a Professor of Soil Science at Texas A&M University, where she received numerous awards for teaching and research.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Soil Science Society of America, Editor-in-Chief for the global soil science journal, Geoderma, and leads the U.S. effort for the Global Soil Security partnership. Dr. Morgan received her B.S. degree in Plant and Environmental Soil Sciences from Texas A&M University, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Dr. Morgan’s research programs are characterized by organizing interdisciplinary research teams to solve problems with creative and practical solutions. Her academic program was recognized for outstanding teaching, research, and mentoring by local, national, and international organizations. Her students have been awarded numerous national and international awards and scholarships for their work advancing knowledge in soil physics and pedology. She is clearly the right professional to build on our momentum,” said Bill Buckner, SHI Board Chair.

“Soil health is a global existential challenge that is closely linked to food, water, energy security, biodiversity, and human health,” said Dr. Morgan. “I look forward to the opportunity to work with the Soil Health Institute team and its many stakeholders, recognizing the value of soil to benefit the sustainability and vitality of farms, agriculture, and society.”

For further information, visit

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute’s ( is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.


Achieving Sustainability Goals Through Soil Health

Webinar: How Soil Health Helps Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
and Accomplish Sustainability Goals-

On November 29th, the Soil Health Institute and The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) hosted a webinar on how managing for soil health can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve other sustainability goals, how those outcomes can be quantified, and how that information can be used to address TSC’s Key Performance Indicators. This webinar featured Keith Berns (Farmer, NE), Wayne Honeycutt (President & CEO, Soil Health Institute), and Kevin O’Donnell (Sustainability Director of Worldwide Sourcing, General Mills).

A recording of the webinar is available to download here. The slide deck can be found here.

Living Soil Film Documents Soil Health Movement

Lesson Plans Extend Soil Health Message to High Schools, Colleges-

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC, Dec. 5, 2018 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI) has released high school and college lesson plans designed to be used with Living Soil, a 60-minute documentary that captures the history – and significance – of the soil health movement.

The documentary features diverse scenes of food production from the Dust Bowl to today. Urban and rural farmers from different areas of the United States talk about strategies they use to improve soil health and the impact on food stability, environmental sustainability, and human nutrition. The film also includes soil health researchers and other soil health experts commenting about new trends and developments with soil health.

The primary learning goal is to help high school and college 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. The lesson plans are appropriate for classes in agriculture, natural resources, environment, ecology, biology or human nutrition and food systems.

The film package is available to stream/download at


Living Soil was directed by Chelsea Myers and Tiny Attic Productions based in Columbia, Missouri, and produced by the Soil Health Institute through the generous support of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

A special thanks to Dawn Bentley, Brian Berns, Keith Berns, Bill Buckner, Mimo Davis, Dan DeSutter, Miranda Duschak, James “Ooker” Eskridge, Barry Fisher, Liz Graznak, Steve Groff, Jerry Hatfield, Trey Hill, Larkin Martin, Bianca Moebius-Clune, Jesse Sanchez, Larry Thompson, John Wiebold, Kristen Veum, Kevin Mathein, Ben Harris, Tim Pilcher, Josh Wright, Haley Myers, Rob Myers and Josh Oxenhandler.

Living Soil Film Released!

Living Soil Film Documents Soil Health Movement-

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Nov. 15 /CSRwire/ – The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released a 60-minute documentary that captures the history – and significance – of the soil health movement.

“Never have I seen, among farmers, such a broad quest for (soil health) knowledge as I’m seeing now,” says Barry Fisher, United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service.  “And this interest in soil health extends far beyond the farm gate,” adds Bill Buckner, President of the Noble Research Institute and Chair of the Board of SHI. “Consumer packaged goods companies, environmental groups, financial investors, and many others are recognizing the importance and value of improving soil health.”

Living Soil captures the background of the current soil health movement and its momentum, beginning with painful images of the Dust Bowl, and then transitions to personal experiences of innovative women and men who are managing their land to enhance soil health. The film features rural and urban farmers from Maryland to California, selling everything from corn to bouquets, united by their care for the soil.

Watch the film here:

Read the full story here:

Request for Applications

Qualified Laboratories are Invited to Submit a Proposal.

The Soil Health Institute is seeking laboratories to conduct soil analyses in support of its North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements. The goal of this project is to determine which measurements are the most effective indicators of soil health in varying climatic zones, soil types and production systems. Soil samples will come from up to 150 long-term agricultural field experiments in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Qualified laboratories are invited to submit a proposal following guidelines described in the Request for Applications.

3rd Annual Meeting Report

2018 Annual Meeting: Soil Health Leaders Advance Agenda-

Thank you to all who attended the Soil Health Institute’s 3rd Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The 3rd Annual Meeting Report features an executive summary of the meeting; video links and text descriptions for all plenary and keynote presentations; Action Team Breakout Reports; poster session abstracts and authors; and an attendee list. All videos are posted to SHI’s YouTube Channel.

A special thanks to our Action Team Volunteers and Co-Chairs, plenary speakers, and keynote speakers. Thank you to The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, General Mills, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and McKnight Foundation for your generous and continued support. Thank you to our partners at the Tri-Societies, Datu Research, Soil Health Partnership, University of Missouri-SARE, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Conservation Technology Information Center, Field to Market, National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil and Water Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, The Fertilizer Institute, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and FoodShot Global for your support in advancing soil health.

Next year’s Annual Meeting will be held on July 16-18, 2019 at the Hyatt-Regency in Sacramento, California!


Save the date by clicking one of the icons below!

Position Announcement

Agricultural Economist

Term: 1 year.

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, is seeking an Agricultural Economist for a one-year contract.  The individual selected will assess the economics of soil health-promoting practices/systems using data from long-term agricultural experimental sites across North America and integrate that information with local on-farm data separately collected in strategic coordination with partners.  The individual selected can operate from a remote location or at SHI headquarters in Morrisville, North Carolina.

Duties Include:

  • Leading data template development for agricultural research sites.
  • Supervising economics-related data collection from up to 150 agricultural research sites.
  • Researching, establishing, and applying standardized costs and returns associated with a wide diversity of agricultural practices, crops, soils, and climates.
  • Performing partial budget analysis and analyzing data for individual sites and across networks of sites.
  • Leading data template development for on-farm case studies.
  • Integrating research site findings with on-farm case study findings.
  • Preparing findings for publication to scientific and agricultural producer/field practitioner audiences.
  • Occasional travel.


  • A Master’s or Ph.D. degree in Agricultural Economics, Agricultural Finance, Agribusiness, Accounting, or closely related field is required.
  • A Ph.D. in an economics or natural resource discipline is preferred.
  • Experience conducting partial budget analysis at agronomic field trial and on-farm scales is desired.
  • Demonstrated expertise in understanding farm accounting principles and economic relationships in agriculture is desired.
  • Expertise in statistical analysis is desired.
  • Experience in writing for technical and/or popular journals is desired.
  • Applicants must be authorized to work in the United States.

To Apply:

Email a resume/C.V., college transcripts, and the names and contact information of 3 references to:
Byron Rath,
Indicate “Agricultural Economist” in the subject line.

First review of applications will begin by October 29, 2018, and the position will remain open until filled.

Noble Research Institute President Sets Retirement Date

Noble Research Institute consultants will host a So You Want to Raise Cattle Workshop to provide new and perspective producers with a concrete foundation of the primary considerations involved in entering into beef cattle production.

ARDMORE, Okla. — Bill Buckner announced today that he will retire as president and chief executive officer of the Noble Research Institute at the end of 2018.

Buckner was selected as Noble’s eighth president in 2011 and has led the organization for seven years. “There are no words to properly express the thankfulness I have for my time at Noble,” Buckner said. “Every day at Noble, I have the opportunity to positively impact agriculture and contribute to something greater than myself. I am honored to be a part of the Noble legacy, and I’m excited to see the next chapter unfold for myself and the organization.”

Russell “Rusty” Noble, a member of the Board of Director’s executive committee and founder Lloyd Noble’s grandson, hailed Buckner’s tireless pursuit to advance agriculture. “When you meet Bill Buckner, you know one thing for sure: he loves agriculture. He is a passionate advocate for the sector,” Noble said. “During his time at Noble, Bill worked tirelessly to promote soil health and create innovative new solutions that could open up new opportunities for farmers and ranchers. The Noble Foundation Board of Directors and all the employees offer a whole-hearted thanks to Bill for all of his work.”

The Board of Directors has retained Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm, to assist in identifying Buckner’s successor. If a successor has not been identified by the end of 2018, Buckner will continue in his current role until such time as his replacement can be found. “We are confident in the continuity of the Noble Research Institute’s business activities,” Noble said. “When a successor is identified, the transition will be seamless.”

Bill Buckner announces his plans to retire as president and CEO of the Noble Research Institute during an employee meeting in Ardmore, Oklahoma, on Sept. 18, 2018. Buckner will retire at the end of 2018 after leading the organization for seven years.

A Missouri native, Buckner earned a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural economics from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1979. He spent the next four decades working in agriculture industry, including 18 years with Bayer. Buckner retired as North American Regional Head and president and CEO of Bayer CropScience, LP in 2011. Later that year, he agreed to lead Noble.

During Buckner’s tenure as President and CEO, Noble experienced one of its most dramatic organizational shifts in its 73-year history. Originally known as The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Noble separated its research and education operations from its philanthropic activities in 2017.

The organization’s research, education and consultation activities continued forward under a new name, the Noble Research Institute, LLC and becomes one of the country’s first agricultural research organizations, a new type of 501(c)(3). The philanthropic activities, including grant-making and scholarship programs, of the original organization were placed in a new, private foundation, which carried the name traditionally associated with the organization’s community giving, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation.

The Buckner era saw Noble expand its educational and community service efforts, dive deeper into cover crop research, establish the Land Stewardship Program, increase its national collaborations and re-established soil health as a core competency.

Noble brought together farmers, ranchers, soil scientists, economists, environmental interests, agribusinesses, NGOs and government agencies together to examine the role of soil health. Their work identified the need for a national organization to serve as a hub for measurement standards, economic data and coordinated research. Noble then launched the Soil Health Institute (SHI) in 2015. The soil-focused nonprofit aims to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of the soil through scientific research and advancement.

“Soil health is very much at the heart of the Noble Research Institute mission,” Buckner said. “Our founder Lloyd Noble lived through the Dust Bowl and he established our organization to help combat the agricultural challenges our region faced. Launching SHI continues to bring Mr. Noble’s vision to the national stage.”

In recent years at the Institute, Buckner has been spearheading the creation of the Ecosystem Services Market (ESM), an ambitious national effort to incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems by creating a large-scale program that would finance, generate and sell ecosystem service credits from agriculture working lands.

“I am so proud of the tremendous accomplishments of the past seven years,” Buckner said. “As our founder once said, ‘No individual accomplishes anything worthwhile by his effort alone.” I know that to be true. Any success I have experienced is a direct result of the tremendous men and women I’ve worked with every day here at Noble and our collaborators around the country.”

Looking forward to 2019, Buckner said he anticipated spending more time with his family. While he is retiring from his organizational leadership role, Buckner will continue to serve the agricultural sector.

“Time with my children and grandchildren is first on the agenda,” Buckner said. “However, I’m not done yet. The encore of my career will be spent helping shepherd the ESM project on behalf of Noble as well as the Soil Health Institute, where I serve as Chairman of the Board. While I will no longer have the daily responsibilities of leading an organization, I will continue to be involved in advancing agriculture. That’s something I will never stop doing.”

Announcing a new partnership with FoodShot Global

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with FoodShot Global, a brand new investment platform catalyzing groundbreaking innovation in the food and agriculture space. Up to $10 million in equity and up to $20 million in debt funding is available to innovative businesses! In addition, a GroundBreaker Prize of more than $500,000 in philanthropic capital is available to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates.

FoodShot’s inaugural challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, is searching for projects and ideas that utilize the latest in technology, science and engineering to address the crisis of soil deterioration.

As a partner of this unique non-profit organization, we hope to make the food system healthier, more sustainable and more equitable. The deadline for applications and nominations is December 1. Apply today and feel free to pass the information along! For more information, go to