Category Archives: SHI in the News

Soil Health Institute announces new agency of record, Rivers Agency, to further its mission

Morrisville, NC., March 4, 2021 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the global non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, is collaborating with Rivers Agency for its marketing and communications programs. After a competitive search for an agency of record, SHI selected Rivers to help the organization expand its impact as a primary resource for soil health science and information.

“Our vision is a world where farmers and ranchers grow quality food, fiber and fuel using soil health systems that sustain farms and rural communities, promote a stable climate and environment, and improve human health and wellbeing,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “Our research and education programs help growers adopt best practices for regenerative agriculture that increase profitability, build drought resilience, sequester carbon, and improve water quality. We’re thrilled to have Rivers Agency as our strategic partner to elevate our thought leadership and impact.”

SHI and Rivers got to work immediately, holding in-depth discovery sessions with SHI leadership and board members. From those interviews, goals were established and a marketing plan for 2021 was created. The marketing work began with the announcement and promotion of two web-based series aimed at helping farmers make measurable improvements towards sustainable practices.

Through a corporate partnership, a large study was conducted to assess, demonstrate and communicate the economics of soil health management systems. More than 100 farms were studied across nine states, which produced findings specific to different climates, soil types and growing conditions. Results of the study are being provided in fact sheets and webinars on a state-by-state basis, and these sessions are being promoted through media outreach and social media.

As part of the Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton project, conducted in partnership with a clothing brand and corporate foundations, SHI is presenting an eight-part series called the Cotton Farmer Showcase. Rivers designed email blasts and created social media posts to promote the webinars and drive registrations.

“We’ve done a lot of work to devise and implement a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of soil health systems,” said Sheldon Jones, chief operating officer, SHI. “Using the results of our team’s research and partnerships, we’ve seen countless growers adopt soil health systems that help them stay in business. It’s testimonials like these that make us passionate about getting the word out so more growers have the knowledge and resources they need to sustain their operations.”

A social media campaign and new tagline also were developed to reflect the importance of SHI’s work and mission: Enriching Soil, Enhancing Life.

“We need more growers, landowners, policymakers and consumers to understand how soil health affects every aspect of our lives—from water quality to our food supply,” said Lauren Rivers, founder and president of Rivers Agency. “With the new administration in Washington and its commitment to tackling climate change, we’re thrilled to help SHI seize this opportunity and lead the conversation about using soil health to combat the biggest challenge facing our environment — global warming.”

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 drought resilience, stabilize yields and benefit their bottom line, all while benefiting the environment.

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 to learn more and follow us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

About Rivers Agency

Rivers Agency is an advertising, branding, design, digital, social, PR and web development agency with locations in Raleigh and Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Since 1993, our teams have been creating integrated campaigns, innovative marketing solutions and user-friendly web experiences for B2C and B2B clients on both a national and local scale.

We’re proud that our creative and web development work has earned accolades from the Addy Awards, Communicator Awards, MarCom Awards, Davey Awards, W3 Awards, and our agency is recognized as one of the largest advertising agencies by the Triangle Business Journal. But our true passion is working with clients and using our creativity to seize opportunities and conquer challenges so we can deliver results and exceed your expectations.

To see our work or learn more, visit or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, Twitter and Instagram.

For media inquiries, contact Rivers Agency:


Warming climate brings ‘existential challenges’ to agriculture

The warming climate means we should expect more floods, more droughts and a decline in some important crop nutrients, but good soil management practices may mitigate some of the worst effects.

So said two scientists at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s final Ag Tech Professional Forum for 2019, capping a year of forums examining how climate change affects agriculture.

Robert Beach, Ph.D., senior economist and fellow at RTI International, discussed research that shows a decline in levels of zinc, iron, and protein in many food crops due to increased CO2 levels.

Rising CO2 levels may slow or reverse nutritional gains across all regions, but the effect is worse in many developing countries in North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia.

Beach noted that two billion people are already deficient in one or more of these nutrients. Falling levels of protein in rice, he added, have resulted in “major implications for food security.”

In addition, rising CO2 levels affect both the quality and quantity of food, although there are wide variations across geographies, crop types and climate models.

Beach did offer some hope that increasingly sophisticated agricultural practices may mitigate some of the effects of climate change.

Read the full story here:

Farmers are adopting regenerative ag practices, but who’s leading the movement?

“The Soil Health Institute recently released a report describing adoption rates for regenerative agriculture practices like no-till drilling and cover cropping using data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The team compared the data to information obtained about regenerative agriculture practices in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

““There has been a 50% increase in cover crop acreage between 2012 and 2017, from 10.3 million acres to 15.4 million acres. Once farmers started adopting these practices, they expanded the practices to more acres,” Sara Eckhouse, executive director of FoodShot Global, told AFN. Soil Health Institute is one of FoodShot’s partners and the duo worked together on FoodShot’s Soil 3.0 Challenge.

“The data is inspiring for Eckhouse and other soil health enthusiasts, as well as helpful when it comes to figuring out where the nascent regenerative agriculture movement needs to head. FoodShot’s lengthy list of prestigious partners includes Rabobank, Rockefeller Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Stone Barns Center for Food and Innovation, Builders’ Initiative, Armonia, alongside a number of venture funds and NGOs. This provides Eckhouse and her team with a powerful network of people who can make real, meaningful change when it comes to bringing regenerative agriculture from the academic realm to actual farmland.”

Read the full story here:

Field day shines spotlight on soil health research

“A national soil health research project, including seven experiments in the Pacific Northwest, will share the spotlight during Washington State University’s annual Lind Field Day.

“The event begins 8:30 a.m. June 13 at the dryland research station in Lind.

“Speaker Shannon Cappellazzi, of the Soil Health Institute in North Carolina, will discuss making soil health assessments useful for farmers. She will speak about the institute’s North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements, studying 31 indicators of soil health on 120 long-term experiments across Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

“Pacific Northwest researchers will be able to compare soil health assessments with wheat-based systems elsewhere throughout the continent, said Bill Schillinger, director of WSU’s dryland research station in Lind, Wash.

“”It’ll be the first detailed soil health assessment from long-term farming practices in the inland Pacific Northwest across numerous sites,” Schillinger said.”

Read the full story here:

UC ANR CASI hosts Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi

CASI hosts Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi of the Soil Health Institute for two days of sampling at the NRI Project field in Five Points, CA!

Author: Jeffrey P Mitchell

“The UC ANR CASI (Conservation Agriculture Systems Innovation) Center hosted Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi, lead scientist for the Western US for two days of soil sampling at the long-term NRI Project in Five Points, CA March 18th and 19th. This well-known ANR study was started in 1999 and has been a unique research resource in the State because of its dedication to investigating reduced disturbance and biodiversity in food production systems. Since being established, it has maintained four experimental systems – standard tillage without a cover crop, standard tillage with a cover crop, no-tillage without a cover crop, and no-tillage with cover crop – and it has afforded comparisons of a long list of soil, crop, environmental, and economic outcomes that have resulted from each of these systems being implemented over such a long time frame. Earlier this year, the site was selected as one of the roughly 125 similar long-term studies in North America that the Soil Health Institute of Morrisville, NC is conducting in 2019. The goals of the monitoring program that is being done at each of these sites is to characterize and better understand how consistent, long-term management impacts a range of soil properties and functions and to also gain better understanding of which indicators of soil health might be best able to detect changes in performance and function across this broad array of environments.”

Read the full story here:

CSA News Features Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health

Soil has an impact on human health in ways that are rarely recognized, according to Anna Wade, Ph.D. student in Environment at Duke University and Elizabeth Stulberg, Ph.D., Science Policy Manager for the American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America.

The Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health was one step towards integrating interests in the soil and medical communities, the authors said. “The onus is now on us to send a clear and consistent message that soil and human health research collaborations are a priority. The Societies can host smaller meetings between soil scientists and public health researchers that could further refine research questions….”

Read the full article here.

Healthy Soil 101: Why Soil Health Matters and How the Food Sector Can Help

Rallying research power behind soil health-

In 2013, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Farm Foundation assembled a group of farmers, agricultural industry pros, government agencies, and NGOs to examine soil health and its role in a sustainable ecosystem. As the group detailed the varied issues affecting soil health, it became clear that more collaboration was needed in order to produce accurate, science-based information about what soils need to remain productive. In response, the foundations formed the Soil Health Institute (SHI)—an independent, nonprofit organization charged with supporting soil stewardship and advancing soil health.

To put it simply, the Institute looks to move scientific knowledge about soil health from the laboratory to the field by providing farmers with the tools they need to better manage their soils. “Farmers are the ones who will help us achieve these soil health benefits for the environment and for productivity,” Wayne Honeycutt, president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, told TriplePundit. “In the area of the business case, we need more information and more research on the profitability of these soil health systems, because farmers and ranchers are businessmen and women.”

Read the Full Article Here:

What Fire Does to Soil Microbes

Soil microorganisms are among the most successful creatures on the planet.

Steven Shafer
Steven Shafer, Ph.D.

By: Steven Shafer, Ph.D.

Fire affects many important ecosystem processes. Much of what we understand about the impact of fire on terrestrial ecosystems comes from many decades of research on the effects of forest and prairie fires on plant communities and succession, nutrient cycling, erosion, and soil properties.

Soil itself is a complex ecosystem that supports all living things above ground. Soils also host an incredible diversity of bacteria, fungi and other microbes that are affected by various factors such as soil nutrients, seasonal changes, drought, pH, chemical applications, plant species and farming practices. Although many microbes are adapted to high-temperature environments (we’re all fascinated by reports of weird microbes growing right at the edges of geysers and undersea vents), no physiologically active microorganism can survive fire.

However, we’ve learned that fire is a powerful regenerating force. This is why prescribed burns are useful management tools in forests and rangelands to clear out old growth, stimulate new growth and recycle nutrients.

Read the full article here:

Agri-Pulse Opinion

Why it’s Important to Connect Soil Health and Human Health Science-

Article by Dr. Steven Shafer
Steven Shafer
Soil quality has long been defined by measurable physical and chemical attributes. Recent advances in technologies and methods for soil biology have allowed the field of soil health to become increasingly meaningful. In fact, we know that food security, achieved when people have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2003), is inextricably linked to the health of soil.

Soil health is defined as the “continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.” Healthy soils contribute to ecosystem functions sustaining plant and animal productivity and biodiversity, filtering contaminants and thus maintaining or enhancing air and water quality, and supporting human health.

The phrase “supporting human health” offers a hopeful connection to feeding the growing world population. Experts in the agriculture, food, human and veterinary medicine sciences see major benefits from an improved understanding of connections between soil health (and the farming practices that promote it) and human health. These connections may occur through the impact of land management, crop and livestock production and commodity processing on nutritional and environmental quality, food safety and the human microbiome.

Read the full article here:

Advancing soil health and sustainable agricultural systems

FFAR awarded $9.4 million to the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy for collaborative research and education during 2018-2020. The goals are to accelerate adoption and benefits of managing soil health, which can increase farm profitability while protecting natural resources for sustainable agricultural systems.

This project will develop and test standardized measurements for industry adoption in evaluating soil health, while expanding education and decision support tools for local farmers, agronomists and landowners.

Significant engagement with farmers will catalyze greater adoption of soil health promoting practices that benefit productivity, farmer livelihoods and the environment.

Learn more here: