Morrisville, NC, April 8, 2022. Farmers around the world are increasingly focused on improving the health of their soils. This interest is well-placed because healthy soils generally have more plant-available nutrients, are more drought resilient, more disease suppressive, and more profitable. Management systems that improve soil health also benefit the environment by sequestering more carbon, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing nutrient runoff and leaching, and even providing habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. As more farmers invest to improve the health of their soils, questions are arising as to how agricultural inputs impact soil health.
To assess the level of farmers’ interest in this topic, the Soil Health Institute partnered with Trust In Food™, Farm Journal’s sustainable ag division, in using a combination of survey questions, analysis of published content, and tracking farmers’ engagement with articles on the topic posted to AgWeb. The survey was sent to 10,000 U.S. farmers who operate at least 100 acres and included:
- 3,500 corn/soybean farmers,
- 3,500 wheat/barley/oat farmers,
- 1,500 cotton/peanut farmers, and
- 1,500 fruit/vegetable (specialty crop) farmers.
Notably, 66% of respondents said they are interested in the impact of agricultural inputs on soil health. When those farmers were asked to rate their interest in the effects of manures, pesticides, biologicals, or fertilizers; 62% responded that they are interested in all of those inputs.
Analyzing the level of information consumed by a random sample of 10,000 AgWeb users showed that those farmers who are interested in both agricultural inputs and soil health consume 34% more digital information than the whole group, operate 446 more acres, and have a median income $144,410 greater than the whole group. In addition, 45% of these farmers are early adopters of conservation practices (which is 25% higher than the entire group).
“This analysis clearly shows that many farmers are interested in how different agricultural inputs impact the health of their soils,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “To serve these farmers, our next step is to assess the state of the science so we can determine what is currently known and identify any critical gaps that need to be addressed.”
The full report can be found 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. 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 training, education, GIS, ecosystem service modeling, 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 LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
About Trust In Food
Trust In Food is a purpose-driven division of Farm Journal dedicated to mainstreaming and accelerating the transition to more sustainable and regenerative ag practices, making every dollar invested in conservation agriculture more impactful. We bring business intelligence to agricultural production behavior change: helping farmers understand, want, and feel capable of undertaking practice change through data science, social research and strategic communications deployed through the omnichannel Farm Journal platform in collaboration with our partners. Visit www.trustinfood.com to learn more.
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