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.”
“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.””
The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released the Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health report, which includes recommendations for better understanding soil health – human health relationships. The conference was designed to bring the soil health and human health communities together, establish the current state of collective knowledge, identify gaps and associated priorities, and scope a collaborative path forward. Held October 16 – 17, 2018, in Silver Spring, MD, the conference included more than 180 attendees from more than 120 organizations.
“We often consider how soil health supports human health in the context of feeding a growing world population. This is certainly a very noble goal by itself, but the potential does not end there,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of SHI. “Healthy soils filter and break down contaminants, reduce nutrient losses to our waterways, and help us both mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Interestingly, however, we learned that the medical community largely thinks of soil decontamination rather than soil as a source of nutrients. We learned that the medical profession is so concerned about climate change that medical societies representing over half of the doctors in the U.S. have created a consortium to inform the public and policymakers about the harmful health effects of climate change. These are issues we can address by improving soil health!
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.
Registration is $300 with a special price of $100 for Farmers and Students.
North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements Principal Investigators and Project Scientists convened in Chicago, January 23-January 24, to finalize soil testing plans for 125 long-term agricultural research sites. The scientists will evaluate 31 indicators of soil health in order to give farmers, ranchers, and others science-based measurements they need for evaluating the health of their soils.
For farmers, scientists and policy makers, one question has yet to be completely unearthed: What are the most effective measurements of soil health? In 2018, the Soil Health Institute, in collaboration with the Soil Health Partnership, The Nature Conservancy, and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, General Mills, and The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, undertook a project to evaluate soil health measurements at a continental scale. Scientists from 125 long-term agricultural research sites managed by universities, federal agencies, and private organizations are partnering across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The purpose of this project is to determine the most effective indicators of soil health in varying climatic zones, soils and production systems.
An important step was convening a blue ribbon panel of leading soil health experts to develop consensus on the most appropriate methods for evaluating 31 soil health indicators. The panel benefited from the input of numerous USDA-NRCS, USDA-ARS, university, and private scientists/ farmers convened by the “Soil Renaissance” from 2013-2016 to advise and debate the issues.
Led by Dr. Paul Tracy, SHI issued a request for applications and selected laboratories to conduct the analyses. Following an international search, SHI also selected seven Project Scientists to serve as liaisons to the partnering long-term sites and to lead soil sampling (2019) and data analysis (2020).
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.
Soil Health Institute Names Dr. Cristine Morgan as Chief Scientific Officer-
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.”
The Soil Health Institute’s (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) 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.
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.