SHI to Advance Soil Health Training and Research in More Than 35 States as an Implementing Partner in Five USDA Climate-Smart Commodity Grants

For Immediate Release  

September 27, 2022: The Soil Health Institute (SHI) congratulates all recently announced USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Grant recipients. As an implementing partner across five selected projects, SHI will work alongside a wide variety of organizations to assist farmers, ranchers, and landowners on their journey toward improved soil health and climate resiliency. Funding made available through this historic investment will enable SHI to advance the establishment of place-based Soil Health and Carbon Targets, provide farmers with measurable goals based on what is achievable for their soils and production systems, increase access to soil health training and availability of on-farm economic analyses, and leverage our work across projects to create communities of practice to support successful adoption of regenerative soil health systems that contribute quantifiable economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. SHI is a partner on the following projects:  

  1. Farmers for Soil Health Climate-Smart Commodities Partnership. Led by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, this project will accelerate long-term cover crop adoption by creating a platform to incentivize farmers across 20 states. The platform will quantify, verify, and facilitate the sale of ecosystem benefits, creating a marketplace to generate demand for climate-smart commodities. 
  1. Climate SMART (Scaling Mechanisms for Agriculture’s Regenerative Transformation). Led by Truterra, LLC, this project will catalyze a self-sustaining, market-based network to broaden farmer access, scale adoption of climate-smart practices, and sustainably produce grain and dairy commodities with verified and quantified climate benefits across 28 states.   
  1. U.S. Climate-Smart Cotton Program. Led by the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, this project will build markets for climate-smart cotton and provide technical and financial assistance to over 1,000 U.S. cotton farmers, including underserved cotton producers, to advance adoption of climate-smart practices on more than 1 million acres, producing millions of bales of Climate-Smart Cotton over five years, and demonstrating major carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) reductions and millions of dollars of economic benefits to farmers. 
  1. Climate-Smart Potatoes from the Pacific Northwest: Managing Soil Health for Climate-Smart Outcomes. Led by Oregon State University, this project will build climate-smart markets and advance adoption of climate-smart management systems in the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon where more than 62% of U.S. potatoes are grown and 15% of the domestic supply of seed potatoes are produced. 
  1. Quantifying the Potential to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase Carbon Sequestration by Growing and Marketing Climate-Smart Commodities in the Southern Piedmont. Led by Rodale Institute, this project will utilize an interdisciplinary system approach including farmer adoption, understanding economic/social barriers, market/consumer buy-in, utilizing technology, and easing the burden on farmers. The results of the project will build climate-smart markets, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, increase carbon sequestration, and increase farmer economic opportunities and adoption of climate-smart agriculture.  

About the Soil Health Institute  

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems.  

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.  


Advancing Regenerative Soil Health Systems: Walmart Foundation Supports the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund

For Immediate Release

Morrisville, North Carolina – Aug. 18, 2022. The Walmart Foundation announced it has provided a $2,000,000, three-year grant to the Soil Health Institute’s (SHI) U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF) to scale activities of the project and expand the initiative to Alabama and South Carolina. The USRCF is a farmer-facing, science-based initiative designed to empower farmers and their advisors with the tools, resources, and networks they need to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.  

“Regenerative soil health systems can provide significant benefits for farmers, food supply chains, our climate, and nature,”

said Kathleen McLaughlin, Chief Sustainability Officer and Executive Vice President at Walmart Inc. and President of the Walmart Foundation. “However, adoption of soil health practices remains low. The USRCF’s scientific approach empowers farmers and aligns with the Foundation’s work on regenerative agriculture. We are excited to support this ambitious project to support farmers with the resources and tools they need to adopt more regenerative systems and accurately measure the outcomes of these practices for their land and livelihoods.” 

Through the USRCF, begun in 2021, SHI has initiated work in Texas, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi, where it has established farmer-to-farmer education networks with more than 100 cotton farmers, delivered 12 education programs, sampled soils in over 200 locations to develop Soil Health and Soil Carbon Targets, interviewed farmers managing 11,000 acres to assess their economic experiences with regenerative systems, delivered initial economic results to growers managing 187,000 acres, and mentored five student interns from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help prepare them for leadership positions in U.S. agriculture.  

“The USRCF is making good progress,” said Dr. Cristine Morgan, SHI’s Chief Scientific Officer. “The drought conditions sweeping across the cotton-belt this year only underscore the importance of soil health systems to farmers’ livelihoods because they can build drought resilience and increase profitability. We feel fortunate to have the Walmart Foundation’s support that will allow us to expand the reach and impact of the USRCF to Alabama and South Carolina.”  

The U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund was initiated in 2021 with a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation. The VF Foundation is a Sustaining Supporter, and Levi Strauss & Co. is a Contributing Supporter of the Fund. Participating partners currently include Cotton Incorporated, National Cotton Council, Field to Market, Arkansas Soil Health Alliance, DELTA F.A.R.M., and the University of Georgia.  

In 2021, the USRCF was selected as an Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) Innovation Sprint Partner, a joint initiative by the United States and United Arab Emirates to accelerate investments in climate-smart agriculture.  

About the Soil Health Institute 

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems. 

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 

About Philanthropy at Walmart  

Walmart.org represents the philanthropic efforts of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation. By focusing where the business has unique strengths, Walmart.org works to tackle key social and environmental issues and collaborate with others to spark long lasting systemic change. Walmart has stores in 26 countries, employs more than 2.2 million associates and does business with thousands of suppliers who, in turn, employ millions of people. Walmart.org is helping people live better by supporting programs to accelerate upward job mobility for frontline workers, advance equity, address hunger, build inclusive economic opportunity for people in supply chains, protect and restore nature, reduce waste and emissions, and build strong communities where Walmart operates. To learn more, visit www.walmart.org or connect on Twitter @Walmartorg


Soil Health Institute Announces Recommended Measurements for Evaluating Soil Health

For Immediate Release

Morrisville, North Carolina – Aug. 12, 2022. The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced its recommended measurements for assessing soil health. These recommendations answer the No. 1 question about soil health that farmers, ranchers, and their advisers have been asking since the soil health movement began.   

With support from the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, and General Mills, the Soil Health Institute led a 3-year, $6.5-million project to identify effective measurements for soil health across North America. SHI partnered with over 100 scientists at 124 long-term agricultural research sites in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico where conventional management systems were compared with soil health-improving systems.  

“This allowed us to evaluate over 30 soil health measurements at each site where they had the appropriate experimental design to allow us to come to the appropriate statistical conclusion about the effectiveness of each measurement,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “Evaluating each measurement across such a wide range of climates, soils, cropping systems, and management practices also provided the scientific rigor we needed to identify which measurements could be widely used.” 

The concept of soil health is basically about how well a soil is functioning. Such functions include cycling water, carbon, and nutrients. Whether a heavy rain infiltrates into the soil or runs off the soil reflects how well that soil is functioning. Soil health can be improved through management, but farmers need practical, effective measurements for assessing the current status of their soil and evaluating progress at improving its health. 

The Soil Health Institute found that many measurements are effective for assessing soil health from a research perspective.

“While this is good news for the science, we also wanted to identify a minimum suite of measurements that is practical and affordable for all land managers,”

said Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer of SHI, “so we also evaluated these measurements through the lens of cost, practicality, availability, redundancy, and other filters.”  

Based on these results, SHI recommends a minimal suite of three measurements to be widely applied across North America (and likely beyond). Those measurements include: 1) soil organic carbon concentration, 2) carbon mineralization potential, and 3) aggregate stability. 

Soil organic carbon is a key component of a soil’s organic matter that influences available water holding capacity, nutrients, biodiversity, structure, and other important soil properties. Carbon mineralization potential reflects the size and structure of microbial communities in soil, thereby influencing nutrient availability, soil aggregation, and resilience to changing climatic conditions. Aggregate stability describes how strongly soil particles group together. This influences whether a heavy rainfall will infiltrate into a soil or run off a landscape, taking with it valuable nutrients that become detrimental to water quality. Soil aggregates also influence erosion, aeration, root growth and, therefore, nutrient uptake by plants. 

While these three metrics provide a minimum suite of widely applicable measurements for assessing soil health, additional measurements may be included depending on the landowner’s or researcher’s objectives. “We have found that adding soil texture to this list of measurements allows us to calculate a soil’s available water holding capacity,” said Dr. Dianna Bagnall, Research Soil Scientist with SHI. “We can then show a farmer how much more water they can store by increasing their organic carbon and improving soil health.” Because management does not change soil texture (sand, silt, and clay), it only needs to be measured once. 

“Providing a scientifically rigorous, yet practical approach for assessing soil health should increase adoption of regenerative soil health systems because farmers and their advisers can now measure the impact of their management choices with confidence,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR’s Scientific Program Director for Soil Health.

“This will in effect bring more on-farm and environmental benefits to scale for agriculture and society.” 

To facilitate use of these measurements, details on SHI’s recommended protocols for sampling and analyzing soils are described on its website. Specific details on the underlying research and data analyses are described in several peer-reviewed publications and interpretive summaries. Additional manuscripts are currently in peer-review. 

About the Soil Health Institute 

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems. 

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 


Soil Health Institute Announces Agenda for “Scaling Up Soil Health” Virtual Annual Meeting

For Immediate Release

Morrisville, North Carolina – July 28, 2022. The Soil Health Institute (SHI) has released the agenda for its upcoming annual meeting to be held virtually on Aug. 11-12. Attendees at this year’s annual meeting of the Soil Health Institute can expect a content-rich program ranging from scientific results to their translation and implementation, all designed to increase on-farm and environmental benefits by “Scaling Up Soil Health.” 

The keynote presentation for this year’s meeting will be provided by Jane Ewing, Senior Vice-President for Sustainability, Walmart. This presentation will be followed by a session entitled “Engaging Commodities for Scaling Adoption of Regenerative Soil Health Systems in Cotton.” In this session, which features three panel discussions, participants will learn about the tactics different organizations and individuals are using to bring on-farm and environmental benefits of soil health to scale. 

In the first panel, farmers will discuss the challenges they encountered and overcame when adopting regenerative soil health systems in different soils and climates. In the second panel, leaders from Ralph Lauren, Walmart Foundation, VF Corporation, and Levi Strauss & Co. will discuss how they are supporting farmers in adopting soil health practices to achieve societal, environmental, and other goals. Insights into supply chain standards to further connect the market for fiber grown using soil health systems will be provided by a third panel of leaders from the Textile Exchange; Cotton, Inc.; U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol; and 2050.cloud. 

Highlighting the afternoon of Aug. 11 is “Climate Change Mitigation through Soil Health,” a session that discusses current programs ranging from local to global initiatives. This session will include a presentation by SHI on comparing strategies for assessing soil carbon stocks. Lessons learned from implementing such strategies at a regional scale will be described by Truterra, while programs to address climate change through soil health at the national scale will be presented by leaders from USDA-NRCS and Dairy Management, Inc. The session will close with a presentation on the “4 per 1000 Initiative,” which uses soil health to address food security and climate goals at a global scale.  

Recommended Measurements of Soil Health for North America 

On Day Two of the meeting (Aug. 12), scientists from SHI will present results of a 3-year, $6.5-million project to assess and identify the most effective measurements of soil health. Management impacts on the carbon cycle, nitrogen cycle, water cycle, and soil microbiome will be presented, culminating in an announcement of the Institute’s recommended measurements for assessing soil health across North America and beyond.  

That afternoon, a panel on “Creating Impactful Learning Opportunities in Soil Health Education Programs” will be led by one of SHI’s soil health educators. Panelists ranging from a farmer to a university educator to a Regional Director of USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education program will share their experiences and creative techniques for increasing effectiveness of soil health education programs.  

Registration is free but required to participate. Continuing Education Credits will be offered. Register here

About the Soil Health Institute 

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems. 

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 


Soil Health Institute Announces Five Strategic Goals

For Immediate Release

Morrisville, North Carolina – July 12, 2022. The Soil Health Institute today announced five strategic goals it is pursuing to address climate change, regenerative agriculture, water resources, farmer empowerment, and consumer demand + policy. 

By 2050, the world’s agricultural systems will need to support another 2 billion people. Yet, in the last century, soils have lost 40-60% of the basic building block that makes them productive (organic carbon). The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the United States alone are estimated to be as high as $85 billion every year. Greenhouse gas emissions have reached the highest level ever recorded and are continuing to increase. Scientists predict drought to increase from impacting 1% of the world’s arable land to over 30% by the end of the century due to climate change. Approximately 80% of U.S. rivers and streams are in only fair to poor biological condition due to nutrient runoff and other contaminants.  

“We are at a critical juncture in human history where we must address these challenges, and soil health is the framework to do just that,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute.  

Research shows that improving soil health in agricultural systems increases carbon sequestration, reduces GHG emissions, increases drought resilience, enhances water quality, boosts crop yield, increases nutrient availability, and suppresses many plant diseases. Yet today, only 5% of cropland in the U.S. is managed using the basic soil health practice of cover cropping. Adoption is hindered by gaps in information on the economic benefits of soil health practices, lack of scientific knowledge on how healthy a given soil can become and what that means for land managers and the environment, and a scarcity of locally relevant resources and mentoring networks for farmers.  

To address these issues, the Soil Health Institute is pursuing the following strategic goals: 

Climate Change: Provide the soil science knowledge and tactics needed for agriculture to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

Regenerative Agriculture: Provide the scientific leadership for understanding, managing, and measuring soil health systems contributing to regenerative land management in agriculture and other ecosystems. 

Water Resources: Provide the soil science knowledge and tactics needed for improving water quality and quantity with soil health systems. 

Farmer Empowerment: Provide farmers with the information they need when selecting and implementing soil health systems to be profitable, resilient, and environmentally sound. 

Consumer Demand + Policy: Provide the science, metrics, information, and partnerships that will inform consumer demand and policies for food, fiber, feed, and fuel grown using soil health systems. 

“Bold challenges require bold action,” said Dr. Honeycutt, “so we will use cross-cutting tactics that allow us to tackle several strategic goals simultaneously. For example, we believe land managers will be motivated to improve soil health once they learn how healthy their soils can become and what that means for increasing drought resilience, nutrient availability, and profitability.”  

To address this gap, the Institute is establishing “Soil Health Targets” that will illustrate to farmers, ranchers, and their advisers how healthy their soils are and how healthy they can become. Because organic matter is an important soil health measurement, this will also provide farmers with an assessment of how much carbon their soils can store. Different soils have different capacities to store carbon.   

“These science-based targets will empower farmers with the information they need when considering new management practices that will simultaneously reduce GHG emissions, build drought resilience, improve water quality, increase profitability, and meet the growing consumer demand for food and fiber grown using regenerative soil health systems,” said Dr. Honeycutt. 

For more information, please contact Byron Rath, brath@soilhealthinstitute.org, or visit the Soil Health Institute’s website at https://soilhealthinstitute.org/our-strategy/.  

About the Soil Health Institute 

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems, as briefly described in this 5-minute video

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. 


The Soil Health Institute Announces its Virtual 2022 Annual Meeting: “Scaling Up Soil Health”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Research Triangle Park, NC, June 15, 2022 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, announced today that “Scaling Up Soil Health” is the theme for its 7th annual meeting to be held virtually on August 11 and 12. 

“’Scaling Up Soil Health’, reflects both the urgency and opportunity for scaling adoption of regenerative soil health systems to mitigate climate change, improve water quality, sustain farms and rural communities, and bring widespread environmental benefits for all of us,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. 

Over the course of two days, an abundance of practical information, research, and actionable takeaways will be offered that is relevant to farmers, agribusiness, consultants, scientists, field conservationists, government, and non-governmental professionals around the world.  

Plenary sessions will address: 

  • Farmers’ Experiences with Regenerative Soil Health Systems 
  • Engaging Commodities for Scaling Regenerative Soil Health Systems 
  • Climate Change Mitigation through Soil Health: Integrating Local to Global Initiatives 
  • SHI’s Recommended Measurements for Scaling Soil Health Assessments: Scientific Basis and Practical Application 
  • Creating Impactful Learning Opportunities in Soil Health Education Programs 

Each day, sessions will run from 10 a.m. to noon EDT, break for an hour, then resume from 1-3 p.m. EDT.

Registration is free but required to participate. You may register here: https://soilhealthinstitute-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_i0ykVel5SGCbZNeag8NrLw.

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 yield, and benefit their bottom line. 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 soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  

###

FOR INFORMATION: 

Byron Rath +1-919-230-0343 

brath@soilhealthinstitute.org


Soil Health Institute Engages Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Promote Greater Equity in Sustainable Agriculture Through Internship Program

Students Hail From Alcorn State University, Fort Valley State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Prairie View A&M University, and University of Minnesota Twin Cities

For Immediate Release

Morrisville, North Carolina – June 13, 2022 – The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced the first U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF) internship class. The USRCF Internship Program is dedicated to establishing career paths for underrepresented students, empowering them to obtain decision-making positions in U.S. agriculture. Launched with a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation in 2021 as an ambitious effort to put growers at the center of creating a sustainable future for U.S. cotton production, the USRCF is a farmer-facing, science-based initiative to support long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.

“We are pleased to announce this inaugural class of interns for the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund,” said Dr. Loutrina Staley, soil scientist and director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Soil Health Institute. “These students are the future of agriculture. They will be an integral part of our work to stand up the USRCF. At the Soil Health Institute, we are deeply committed to current and future generations, and empowering historically underrepresented communities.”

“As a founding member of the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund, it was important to us to champion equity in the program and create opportunities for Black students in climate-smart, regenerative agriculture,” said Roseann Lynch, Ralph Lauren Corporation’s Chief People Officer and Head of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation. “We look forward to welcoming this inaugural class of talented students into this important work.”

Since its launch, the USRCF has been recognized as an AIM for Climate Innovation Sprint Partner at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference, and has received additional support from industry leaders, including the VF Foundation, which has joined the USRCF as a Sustaining Supporter, and Levi Strauss & Co, which has joined as a Contributing Supporter.

“We are proud to support the USRCF and the expansion of the Soil Health Institute’s Internship Program to advance diversity and inclusion in sustainable agriculture,” said Gloria Schoch, Executive Director, The VF Foundation and Director of Global Impact, VF Corporation. “Providing access and education to students enrolled in HBCUs to help them excel in their careers is vital to successfully expand regenerative practices and ultimately mitigate climate change.”

The 2022 summer intern class includes scholars from Alcorn State University, Fort Valley State University, North Carolina A&T State University, and University of Minnesota Twin Cities. In addition, a student from Prairie View A&M University is returning to the Institute as an employee after serving as an intern in 2021. All students will work alongside SHI scientists and educators in one or more programs, including Soil Health and Carbon Targets, Soil Health Education, Soil Microbiome Research, and Soil Health Economics. As part of their internship, students will engage cotton farmers, advisors, and other stakeholders to increase adoption of regenerative soil health systems in an effort to bring resilience and profitability benefits to farmers, while also seeking to mitigate climate change and promote other environmental benefits.

To learn more about the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund and the Internship Program, visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/usrcf/ or contact Byron Rath at brath@soilhealthinstitute.org.

Meet the 2022 Summer Interns and Employees:

  • Ronnie Bernard is an undergraduate student majoring in agriculture with a concentration in environmental science at Alcorn State University. He has received various scholarships from the university, is a member of the 1890 Scholars Program and a Cargill Thrive Scholar awardee. Mr. Bernard plans to become an environmental scientist.
  • Ahmad Harden is an undergraduate student majoring in agricultural economics at Fort Valley State University, where he is a Presidential Student Ambassador and a “Blue Coat” Ambassador, assisting with the university’s advancement program. Mr. Harden was awarded a full academic scholarship from USDA and plans to become an agricultural economist.
  • Jordan Kelly is an undergraduate student majoring in sustainable land management and food systems at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She is a member of MANNRS, Future Farmers of America, and a Norman E. Borlaug Scholar awardee. Ms. Kelly plans to become an environmental scientist.
  • Tiffany LaShae is a graduate student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, where she is conducting a study integrating soil health and soil stories of African American farmers in the Southeast U.S. Tiffany is a farmer, activist and educator with over 10 years of experience working with farmers in the U.S. and abroad. She currently manages a small, diversified vegetable/seed production farm that demonstrates soil health practices and provides hands-on education for beginning farmers. Tiffany’s work also includes collaborative projects addressing inequities in farmer resource utilization and access with the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service, and in climate smart agriculture efforts with USAID farmer-to-farmer organizations based in Africa.
  • Quanteria Randle is an undergraduate student majoring in biology at Prairie View A&M University. In 2021, Ms. Randle interned with SHI’s Soil Microbiome Scientist, Dr. Elizabeth Rieke, analyzing phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) data from soils sampled across North America. She presented those results at the American Society of Agronomy & Soil Science Society of America international meeting in Salt Lake City, UT. Ms. Randle plans to become a soil microbiologist.
  • Jhacolby Williams is an undergraduate student majoring in agriculture with a concentration in environmental science at Alcorn State University. Mr. Williams, a member of the Honors Program and Future Farmers of America, has a full scholarship from the university. He plans to become an environmental scientist.

About the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund

The USRCF is a unique, farmer-facing, science-based initiative of the Soil Health Institute that supports long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the atmosphere by 2026. The Fund was initiated with a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation in 2021. Since its launch, the VF Foundation and Levi Strauss & Co. have joined the USRCF as Sustaining and Contributing Partners, respectively. Participating partners currently include Cotton Incorporated, National Cotton Council, and Field to Market.

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. 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 clean environment, and improve human health and well-being. Accordingly, the Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, soil microbiome, farmer/adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The team follows a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems, as briefly described in this 5-minute video.

Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

About the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation

The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation works to make the dream of a better life reality by championing equity and empowering underserved communities around the world. Established in 2001, the Foundation is committed to making a difference across its core areas of focus: supporting cancer care and prevention, protecting the environment, fostering advocacy & access and strengthening community resilience. It hopes to deliver meaningful change in its communities through its nonprofit partnerships, investments and volunteering programs. For more information, please visit: https://corporate.ralphlauren.com/foundation-1.

About the VF Foundation

The VF Foundation is the private grantmaking organization funded by VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with iconic outdoor, active and workwear brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Smartwool®, JanSport® and Dickies®. With its partners, The VF Foundation strives to innovate and problem-solve in collaborative ways to drive transformative, lasting change with the vision of creating a more equitable and sustainable world. Established in 2002, the Foundation has granted nearly $60 million globally to meaningfully improve the communities where VF operates. It’s committed to driving movements for the betterment of people and the planet across its key strategic pillars: championing Worthy Work, embracing Outside Matters, empowering creativity and self-expression as we are Free to Be, and supporting Disaster Relief and Recovery. Learn more at https://www.vfc.com/responsibility/the-vf-foundation.

About Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies and a global leader in jeanswear. The Company designs and markets jeans, casual wear and related accessories for men, women and children under the Levi’s®, Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.™, Denizen®, Dockers® and Beyond Yoga® brands. Its products are sold in more than 110 countries worldwide through a combination of chain retailers, department stores, online sites, and a global footprint of approximately 3,100 retail stores and shop-in-shops. Levi Strauss & Co.’s reported 2021 net revenues were $5.8 billion. For more information, go to http://levistrauss.com, and for financial news and announcements go to http://investors.levistrauss.com.

Media Contacts
Soil Health Institute
Lauren Rivers
shi@riversagency.com

Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation
Communications
RL-Press@ralphlauren.com

VF Foundation
Colin Wheeler
Vice President,
Corporate Affairs & Communications
Colin_wheeler@vfc.com

Levi Strauss & Co Media Contact
Kylie Grader
newsmediarequests@levi.com


VF Foundation Joins U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund

Morrisville, NC, April 11, 2022. The VF Foundation announced today that it will join the Soil Health Institute’s (SHI) U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF) as a Sustaining Supporter. The USRCF is a unique, farmer-facing, science-based initiative designed to support long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026.

“The VF Foundation is excited to continue its support of the Soil Health Institute and join the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund,” said Gloria Schoch, Executive Director, The VF Foundation and Director of Global Impact, VF Corporation. “This initiative complements our corporate efforts to advance regenerative agricultural practices by taking a farmer-centric approach to scale these practices and measure their impacts when growing cotton, a key material used by VF brands and across the apparel industry.”

The VF Foundation’s support of the USRCF directly contributes to the Institute’s efforts in Texas, where approximately 60% of U.S. cotton is grown. Support will help establish farmer-to-farmer mentoring networks, conduct economic analysis of regenerative soil health systems, increase access and opportunity for minority students in scientific leadership positions, and establish Soil Health and Soil Carbon Targets so growers know how healthy their soils can become and how much carbon they can draw down. In 2019, VF Corporation set ambitious science-based targets and is committed to sourcing 100 percent of its top 9 materials from regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable or recycled sources by 2030, as a key pathway to achieve its climate goals.

“We are grateful for The VF Foundation’s past support that served as a catalyst for establishing the USRCF to assist cotton farmers and their advisors across the U.S. with building resilience to drought and mitigating the effects of climate change,” said Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer and leader of the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund. “Widespread adoption of regenerative agricultural practices is hindered by lack of information on the business case, locally relevant education programs and grower networks, and locally established Soil Health and Carbon Targets. These measures can arm growers with specific knowledge to demonstrate how much their soil health can improve and how that healthier soil can translate into drought resilience, yield stability, profitability, and drive additional benefits.”

The USRCF works to unite the interests of farmers, partners, and financial supporters around soil health as the foundation for regenerative agriculture. The Fund was initiated in 2021 with a founding grant from the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation to the Soil Health Institute.

Participating partners of the Fund include Cotton Incorporated, National Cotton Council, and Field to Market.

To learn more about the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund visit https://soilhealthinstitute.org/usrcf/ or contact Byron Rath at brath@soilhealthinstitute.org.

About the VF Foundation

The VF Foundation is the private grantmaking organization funded by VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies with iconic brands including Vans®, The North Face®, Timberland®, Smartwool®, JanSport® and Dickies®. With its partners, The VF Foundation strives to innovate and problem-solve in collaborative ways to drive transformative, lasting change with the vision of creating a more equitable and sustainable world. Established in 2002, the Foundation has granted nearly $60 million globally to meaningfully improve the communities where VF operates. It’s committed to driving movements for the betterment of people and the planet across its key strategic pillars: championing Worthy Work, embracing Outside Matters, empowering creativity and self-expression as we are Free to Be, and supporting Disaster Relief and Recovery. Learn more at https://www.vfc.com/responsibility/the-vf-foundation.

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute is a global non-profit with a mission of safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils through scientific research and advancement. The Institute brings together leaders in soil health science and the industry to conduct research and empower farmers and other landowners with the knowledge to successfully adopt regenerative soil health systems that contribute economic and environmental benefits to agriculture and society. The Institute’s scientific team holds doctorates in various soil science and related disciplines, with specialties in carbon cycling, nutrient cycling, water cycling, nutrient management, farmer and adviser education, ecosystem services, soil-plant relationships, on-farm economics, and others. The Institute’s programs are guided by a comprehensive strategy for advancing adoption of regenerative soil health systems, as briefly described in this 5-minute video. Healthy soils are the foundation for restoring our land. Together, we can create a secure future for all, mitigate the effects of climate change, and help farmers and organizations meet production and environmental goals at scale. Visit www.soilhealthinstitute.org to learn more, and follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

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