Category Archives: SHI in the News

Soil health research, education receives $20 million funding

Today, on World Soil Day, the nonprofit Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research announces a $9.4 million grant to the Soil Health Institute, NCGA’s Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to improve soil health and, ultimately, support positive economic and environmental outcomes for American farmers.

The grant will be matched by General Mills, Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust​, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and individual donors for a total investment of nearly $20 million.

The goal of this project is to accelerate adoption and benefits of soil health management systems nationally by supporting collaborative research and education. Soil health is a critical component of a productive and sustainable agricultural system. Farming practices that improve soil health can increase profitability while protecting natural resources like air and water for communities.

Read more here.

FFAR Awards $9.4 Million

FFAR Awards $9.4 Million to Spur Next Leap in Agriculture: Improved Soil Health to Optimize Economic and Environmental Results for U.S. Farmers

Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to Collaborate on Research, Benefiting Environment, Farmers and Communities

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established through bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill, today announced a $9.4 million grant to the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to improve soil health and, ultimately, support positive economic and environmental outcomes for American farmers. The grant will be matched by General Mills, the Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham Environmental Trust, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and individual donors for a total investment of nearly $20 million.

The goal of this project is to support collaborative research and education that accelerates adoption and benefits of soil health management systems nationally. Soil health is a critical component of a productive and sustainable agricultural system. Farming practices that improve soil health can increase profitability while protecting natural resources like air and water for communities.

However, there is no standardized measurement for soil health in the United States; instead, different sets of measurements and methods can conflict and confuse farmers and field conservationists. Furthermore, many landowners of rented farmland are not aware of the benefits soil health improvements can deliver. This project will help the industry adopt standardized measurements to evaluate and improve soil health while expanding education and tools for local farmers, agronomists, and landowners.

“If we can unlock the potential of healthy soil, we can move closer to a sustainable agricultural system for everyone,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., executive director of FFAR. “The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is pleased to harness the power of collaboration by supporting three leading organizations in this space for the long-term benefit of our nation’s farmers and food system.”

Collaborators will take an integrated, three-pronged approach. The Soil Health Institute will develop and test soil health measurements; the Soil Health Partnership will implement and evaluate soil health promoting practices on working farms; and The Nature Conservancy will work with non-operator landowners to encourage use of science-based soil health practices. The partners believe significant engagement with farmers and landowners will catalyze greater adoption of soil health promoting practices that benefit productivity, farmer livelihoods, and the environment.

“The needs for advancing soil health are far greater than any single organization can provide – public or private,” said Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “That’s why this project is so important. It leverages public funds authorized by Congress through the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research with resources provided by other foundations and corporations through the combined capacities of the Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership, and The Nature Conservancy.  This kind of partnership creates a way to advance soil health for the benefit of all who need safe, high-quality products from agriculture, natural resources to sustain human and all other life, thriving communities, and a strong economy.  In other words, it benefits everyone.”

“American agriculture has made extraordinary strides in technology and productivity in this century, but the next frontier is in soil health,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “This grant represents one of the largest investments ever made in soil health, one of the best tools we have to optimize productivity while minimizing environmental impact. It will allow us to expand our program to include more farmers who want to benefit from our body of work analyzing how practices like growing cover crops, reducing tillage and using advanced nutrient management can help family farms survive and thrive.”

“With a shared commitment to science and the improved soil health and productivity of America’s farmlands, we are pleased to be part of this collaboration,” said Larry Clemens, director of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Agriculture Program. “This grant awarded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and matched by generous contributors will not only advance the science of soil health, but we expect to see an increase in the adoption of on-field soil health practices. By engaging farmers and the landowners they rent from, we can help increase farm profitability and protect water and land resources.”

FFAR is supporting this collaborative project through its Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area, which aims to increase soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or novel practices that improve soil health.

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Press Contacts

 

Madeleine O’Connor, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

202.590.7613 | moconnor@foundationfar.org

 

Byron Rath, Soil Health Institute

919.230.0343 | brath@soilhealthinstitute.org

 

Christine Griffiths, The Nature Conservancy

912.222.3297 | cgriffiths@tnc.org

 

Jenna Rose, Soil Health Partnership

573.808.0815 | jenna@rosemedia.biz

About the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.  FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation. Learn more: foundationfar.org.

 

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute’s (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. An evolution of the Soil Renaissance, an initiative established in 2013 by the Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation to advance soil health and make it the cornerstone of land use management decisions, the Soil Health Institute serves as the primary resource for soil health information.

 

About the Soil Health Partnership

The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health, benefiting both farmer profitability and the environment. With more than 100 working farms enrolled in 12 states the SHP tests, measures and advances progressive farm management practices that will enhance sustainability and farm economics for generations to come. SHP brings together diverse partners to work towards common goals. At least a ten-year scientific program administered by the National Corn Growers Association, the SHP’s vision is driven by initial and continuing funding and guidance from NCGA, Monsanto, the Walton Family Foundation, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, General Mills and USDA, with technical support from The Nature Conservancy and the Environmental Defense Fund. For more, visit soilhealthpartnership.org.

 

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter

 

Download the Fact Sheet here.

FFAR Grant

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 05 /CSRwire/ – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established through bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill, today announced a $9.4 million grant to the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy to improve soil health and, ultimately, support positive economic and environmental outcomes for American farmers. The grant will be matched by General Mills, Grantham Trust, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and individual donors for a total investment of nearly $20 million.

The goal of this project is to support collaborative research and education that accelerates adoption and benefits of soil health management systems nationally. Soil health is a critical component of a productive and sustainable agricultural system. Farming practices that improve soil health can increase profitability while protecting natural resources like air and water for communities.

View the full Press Release here: http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/40629-FFAR-Awards-9-4-Million-to-Spur-Next-Leap-in-Agriculture-Improved-Soil-Health-to-Optimize-Economic-and-Environmental-Results-for-U-S-Farmers

How soil sparked a new sustainable ag movement

For three weeks every month, Ray Archuleta captivates audiences with a few handfuls of soil. He begins with two clumps, dropping them into water. The soil from a farm where the soil isn’t tilled holds together, while the tilled soil immediately disperses, indicating poor soil structure. Next, volunteers from the audience — mostly farmers and ranchers — pour water over a soil that grew a variety of crops, and it runs right through. A sample of tilled soil that grew only corn is like a brick, and the water sits on top. Water is the most precious resource for growing crops, and having a soil unable to absorb water is crippling for farmers.

The implications of Archuleta’s demonstrations are obvious to food producers, who see the fate of their acres in those clumps of soil. The message is powerful, and producers drive home knowing that soil is alive, that it can be sick or healthy, and that healthy soil can do some pretty amazing things — such as make a farm more resilient to drought, sequester enormous amounts of carbon, reduce erosion and support an ecosystem teeming with life.

Archuleta, a conservation agronomist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, popularized these soil health demonstrations that by his estimates have reached more than 100,000 farmers and ranchers in the U.S. alone. He’s a pioneer of a movement that recently has stolen the spotlight from conventional agriculture.

Read the full article: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/how-soil-sparked-new-sustainable-ag-movement

Are Your Cover Crops Paying for Themselves?

Since 2015, the Soil Health Institute has been working to develop a national strategy aimed at improving soil health on farms across the U.S.

Stakeholders involved with the organization — which includes farmers, ranchers, government agencies, scientists, and consumers —  have been identifying gaps in key research areas, measurements, economics, communication and education, and policy, and specifying actionable steps to address these gaps.

In poring over numerous studies during this time on a range of soil health topics, they’ve reaffirmed that a chief benefit of soil health is the relationship between soil organic carbon and the soil’s capacity to hold plant-available water.

Read the Full Article at https://www.no-tillfarmer.com/blogs/1-covering-no-till/post/7154-are-your-cover-crops-paying-for-themselves

Soil Health Institute, lum.ai and Tri-Societies Partner to Accelerate Soil Health Research

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Oct. 24 /CSRwire/ – The Soil Health Institute, The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science Society of America and lum.ai are partnering on a project that uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to accelerate the retrieval and use of soil health research.

Lum.ai developed an NLP tool that takes unstructured text and turns it into structured data.

“We originally developed this natural language processing application for researchers at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help identify causal pathways in cancer research and children’s health,” said Mihai Surdeanu, co-founder of lum.ai. “It achieves levels of interpretation and precision that are statistically similar to humans, but unlike humans who can become fatigued and bored, the computer’s process is sustainable for an unlimited number of papers,” added Surdeanu.

Read the full story here.

Managing Soil Health in Potatoes-Spudsmart

Soil health can be seen as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital, living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. This definition from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) speaks to the importance of managing the soil so it can continue to sustain life for future generations.

According to the USDA-NRCS, there are a number of agronomic measures farmers can follow to bolster soil health. They include:

  • Minimize soil disturbance
  • Keep soil covered
  • Maximize the duration of living roots
  • Maximize diversity of crops
  • Integrate livestock into the system

Read the Full Article at: http://spudsmart.com/managing-soil-health-potatoes/

Highlights from Soil Health Institute’s Annual Meeting, A Farmer’s Perspective

After a day of talk about soil health — the science, metrics, economics, policy and possible markets — an Alabama commodity farmer got to share some thoughts that reflect the business challenge for the average grain, oilseed or fiber producer.

V. Larkin Martin has served on boards of multiple farm and business organizations — including the Soil Health Institute, Farm Foundation and the Cotton Board and is a former chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. She manages her family’s seventh-generation, 7,000-acre farm of both owned and rented land in Alabama.

Martin explained that soil health was vital to her farm because of the dry conditions in the South, as well as farming on a high percentage of highly erodible land. Soil health is an imperative, yet most of her landlords might be just mildly interested in the topic. The buyers of the corn, soybeans, wheat, peanuts and cotton raised on the farm, not so much, she said.

To read the full article visit: https://www.agrimarketing.com/s/111281.

California, Maryland Conservation Policy Innovators to Speak During Soil Health Institute Conference

“RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C, Jun. 15 /CSRwire/ – California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary Karen Ross will update the nation’s soil health leaders on the California Healthy Soils Initiative during the Soil Health Institute’s (SHI) annual meeting, July 12-14, in St. Louis, Mo.  Dana Stein, Maryland House of Delegates, will brief leaders on his state’s Healthy Soils Program, which was approved by Governor Larry Hogan May 4.

“The two officials join 11 other innovators who will address critical soil health solutions during the conference, PoweringUP Our Soils.  Speakers will provide information on the Action Plan For Soil Health, which outlines collaboratively developed, actionable steps to analyze and improve the health of the nation’s soils and ecosystems, carbon sequestration, enhancing soil to suppress soil-borne diseases, and emerging sustainability requirements.”

Read the full article here: http://www.csrwire.com/press_releases/40093-California-Maryland-Conservation-Policy-Innovators-to-Speak-During-Soil-Health-Institute-Conference

Agwired “General Mills Backing Soil Health Program”

“Several organizations have come together on a program to enhance farm sustainability through soil health. And they are very happy to announce additional backing from a major food manufacturer – General Mills. These organizations are working to advance soil health on America’s farms and ranches, paving the way for measurable economic and environmental gains for farmers, businesses and communities for generations to come.

To help ensure soil health, General Mills has made a three-year, $2 million commitment to The Nature Conservancy, Soil Health Institute and Soil Health Partnership to support the development of tools and resources for farmers, landowners, and supply chain leaders to achieve widespread adoption of soil health practices.”

Read the Full Article here: http://agwired.com/2017/04/26/general-mills-backing-soil-health-program/