Literature and Information Review Grant Recipients

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today announced five researchers will receive 2017 Soil Health Literature and Information Review Grants. According to Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Steven Shafer, 45 grant proposals were received. Each proposal was evaluated by two reviewers and recommended for final consideration based on the topic proposed and its value to advancing soil health.

Proposals funded under the Literature Review program are designed to collect current research literature, websites, databases, and other scientifically reliable information sources relevant to soil health; develop review articles and summaries on specific priorities supporting the SHI Action Plan; and deposit the reviews and bibliographic information within the Soil Health Research Landscape online database (freely accessible from SHI’s website). Each $8,000 grant may be used to support personnel and other legitimate expenses related to surveying, identifying, compiling, and summarizing the existing scientific literature, websites, and databases related to soil health, and preparing an overall review article about the findings.


Soil health management practices & biogeochemical cycling in intensive cropping systems
Dr. Kate A. Congreves, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Dept. of Plant Sciences, University of Saskatchewan
This review will focus on the interactions of soil health management practices (e.g., crop rotations, cover crops and cover crop mixes, animal manures with different characteristics) and soil microbial processes affecting soil chemical composition, macro- and micronutrient availability, mineralization, and leaching; and the soil microbial species and communities that are involved.

Influence of soil organic matter and management on soil water dynamics and crop yield resilience
Mr. Daniel Kane, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
This literature review will focus on the influence of soil organic matter and soil texture on soil water infiltration and soil water holding capacity. The review will also examine how those properties can be changed through management and whether there is evidence that they affect interannual yield variability (yield stability) and mitigate yield losses in adverse weather (yield resilience).

β-glucosidase – Phenol Oxidase Ratio: A Soil Health Index that Isolates Management Effect from Noise
Dr. Marshall Douglas McDaniel, Dept. of Agronomy, Iowa State University
This project will focus on collecting and synthesizing information from studies that measure two critical soil extracellular enzymes produced mostly by soil microorganisms, but also plants. β- glucosidase is an extracellular enzyme that cleaves glucose monomers from cellobiose, a critical step in the mineralization of organic matter in soils. Phenol oxidase is a lignin-oxidizing enzyme produced by plants and microorganisms that degrades lignin and humus, releasing carbon and nutrients. The ratio of these two extracellular enzymes has promise as a highly-sensitive soil health indicator.

Review Novel Soil Indicators and Environmental Impacts of Soil Health Promoting Management Practices
Ms. Yushu Xia, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois
The project will review the primary literature to evaluate the performance of active carbon and nitrogen measurements or their practicality, sensitivity and utility by evaluating responsiveness to soil health promoting practices and relationships to soil function (productivity, environmental function). A more in-depth exploration will then use references that report greenhouse gas emissions from field experiments that document management practice effects on soil health. Analyses will explore how covariates (management and edaphic factors) may help explain variable effects of soil health promoting practices on greenhouse gas emissions.

Grazingland Management Impacts on Water Infiltration, Nutrient Use Efficiency, and C Sequestration
Ms. Sutie Xu, Dept. of Animal Science, Michigan State University
Grazingland is one of the most important ecosystem types, as it occupies 30% of land area on the Earth and provides food and many ecosystem services. It is critical to understand the impacts of grazingland management on ecosystem processes such as water, nutrient, and carbon cycling to provide information and recommendations for policy makers and farm managers. This literature review encompasses soil water infiltration, nutrient use efficiency, and soil carbon sequestration because they are indicators of soil health that are closely related to soil functions regulating water and supporting nutrient and carbon dynamics, as well as mitigating the emissions of greenhouse gases.

“Each proposal is highly relevant to the overall goal for the Soil Health Institute’s research program, which is to address strategic, high priority needs of the scientific and stakeholder communities for advancing soil health,” -Dr. Shafer

The $40,000 in total grant funds were supplied by a generous donor who wishes to remain anonymous, according to Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO.

“These funds are designated to foster soil health promoting research, and we are grateful for the opportunity to provide grants to these very worthy recipients,” Dr. Honeycutt