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Goals

Goals

“The Soil Health Institute will be the primary resource for soil health information and research. Its outcomes will yield healthy, sustainable soils to serve as the foundation for society, benefit the environment and contribute to the productivity and profitability of agriculture.”

— The Soil Health Institute Vision Statement

Leaders created The Soil Health Institute to be an independent, nonprofit organization that adds value to the advancement of soil health.

WE WILL PROVIDE:

  1. A Funding Pool
    • Reliable, convenient system for funders to invest in
    • Central hub for private & public money for soil health research
    • Comprehensive grant program, funding the spectrum of soil health research
  2. At the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Big Flats (New York) Plant Materials Center, scientists excavate eastern gamagrass roots for study. –USDA-NRCS

  3. Centralized Hub of Soil Health Information
    • Trusted information for producers
    • Repository for soil health research data for scientists
    • Broad and fast distribution of soil health information
    • Innovative, open-use data curation
  4. Research Gap Assessment
    • Clearinghouse to vet ideas and identify research gaps
    • Systematic process for identifying and assessing research gaps and priorities
  5. Best Expertise
    • Wide range of soil health knowledge, expertise
    • Wide spectrum of stakeholders
    • Collaborative soil health community
    • Problem-solving conveners
  6. Unbiased Authority on Soil Health
    • Coordinated effort focused on soil health
    • Advancement of soil health
    • Standardized metrics
  7. Researcher Collaboration
    • Project collaboration
    • Project management and collaboration software integration
  8. Soil Health Researchers
    • Cultivate interest in soil health research
    • Job Board
    • Grant coordination
  9. Soil Health Promotion
    • Advance awareness
  10. Rehabilitation – Soils in Developing Countries
    • Work in soil health that is easily translatable to systems in developing countries

OUR PRIORITIES FOR 2018

 

HOW WE PERFORMED IN 2017

A high priority during 2017 was to work with all soil health partners to establish measurements and standards that support an ongoing assessment of the health soils in the United States. The purpose of a National Soil Health Assessment (NSHA) is to generate data and analyses to: establish baselinesfor soil health at regional to national scales; identify trends in changes in soil health; establish a context to interpret soil health information obtained for individual land managers and local decision makers; support selection of land management practices that will lead to improvements in soil health and the resulting benefits to agricultural production and natural resources; and provide information to policy makers responsible for public policies in agriculture and natural resources.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS

We released 19 initial Tier 1 Measurements.

  • Tier 1 Measurements are effective indicators of soil health, defined regionally and by soil groupings across the nation. Thresholds are known to indicate (at minimum) “Poor”, “Adequate”, and “Good” that are outcome based (yield, environmental goals, etc.), and specific management strategies can be suggested to improve soil functioning.
  • We set forth parameters for both Tier 2 and Tier 3 Measurements.
    • Tier 2: An effective indicator of soil health that is known to be related to improvements or degradation of soil. Potential ranges may be known in some regions but not nationally, but research is needed to establish thresholds to meet a relative standard of a healthy soil in various regions. There is some knowledge of management practices that can change measured values and the soil processes that affect observed measurement results. Further development of a Tier 2 indicator may bring it into Tier 1. A Tier 2 indicator may be tested alongside Tier 1 indicators in local, regional, or national assessments.
    • Tier 3: An indicator that has potential to add significant information about soil health in specific locations or on large scales, but specific relationships among measured values, soil processes, and effects of land management are not fully understood. Tier 3 indicators are promising enough to warrant research on these relationships, as well as development of SOPs for production laboratory implementation and interpretation, in support of eventually developing them to meet Tier 1 criteria.
  • We also launched the Soil Health Research Landscape ToolTM that now serves as an open-source information portal on soil health. Currently, we are adding >10,000 soil health research articles to this resource.
  • During 2017, we also initiated a systematic review of scientific literature that evaluates economic risks and yield impacts of soil health-promoting practices, such as no-till, zone tillage, reduced tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, manure/biosolid application, and other management practices. Once completed, we will curate the data and provide a comprehensive analysis to determine such factors as climatic zone, soil properties, cropping systems and management practices that influence soil health and economic risk relationships.
  • We released the national Action Plan on Soil Health with concrete goals and priorities for the advancement of soil health.