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

Soil Health on Rangelands and Pasture Lands

The Soil Health Institute joined the Foundation for Food and Agriculture, Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable, Noble Research Institute and numerous stakeholders to bring together producers and researchers for an important discussion about the state of science and research gaps in rangeland and pasture land soil health. Our goal is to provide farmers, ranchers and other land managers tools they can use to access information about soil health and to empower them to make more informed soil health decisions. Through this event, several key producer needs were identified and next steps outlined for producing science-based solutions for producers. Special thanks to our co-hosts for making this event a success.

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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

Ag Biotech Summit Registration is Now Open

The 2018 Ag Biotech Summit will focus on the importance of Soil Health, highlighting challenges being faced and the responsibility needed to provide a sustainable future. This event will showcase today’s emerging trends and innovative technologies that are fostering and promoting soil health. Session topics will include soil health and its impacts on plant production, animal and human health, sustainability and land management as well as sustainable economic impacts from physical and biological combinations. So mark it on your calendar to join us on February 20-21 to share innovations and help encourage new creations with the common goal of creating a sustainable soil future. Learn more.

Register Here!

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.

Save the Date: Ag Biotech Summit 2018

The 2018 Ag Biotech Summit will focus on the importance of soil health, highlighting challenges being faced and the responsibility needed to provide a sustainable future. This event will showcase today’s emerging trends and innovative technologies that are fostering and promoting soil health. Session topics will include soil health and its impacts on plant production, animal and human health, sustainability and land management as well as sustainable economic impacts from the intersection of physical and biological science. So mark it on your calendar to join us on February 20 and 21 to share innovations and help encourage new creations with the common goal of creating a sustainable soil future.

For More Information Click Here.

OFRF Now Accepting Applications for 2018 Grant Cycle

 

Press Release

Contact:
Diana Jerkins, OFRF Research Director
(831) 426-6606
grants@ofrf.org

OFRF is pleased to release our Request for Proposals (RFP) for 2018 research grants. Applicants residing in Canada, Mexico, and the United States are eligible to apply. In particular, OFRF encourages farmers, ranchers, graduate students, early career researchers, veterans, and Extension personnel to consider applying for funding. The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2017. OFRF will notify applicants about funding decisions in spring 2018.

We selected our priority areas for the RFP based on direct feedback from farmers and ranchers across the U.S. These priorities reflect the top areas where investment in research will make a real difference in helping organic farmers and ranchers be successful.

Research priorities include are not limited to:

  1. Soil health. Topics of particular interest include nutrient balancing, crop rotations, and fertility management focused on reducing environmental impacts.
  2. Innovative weed control. Topics of particular interest include weed control related to climate change and changing weather patterns.
  3. Management of emerging insect and disease issues.
  4. Livestock health. Topics of particular interest include livestock and crop integration and best practices for grass based livestock production.

The RFP and guidelines can be viewed here. Please help us get the word out by sharing this information.

Please refer to the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda for more information on these topics.

Funding contributions are being accepted for OFRF’s 2018 research grant program. Your support will help bring more farmers and acreage into organic production. To learn more about how you can make a contribution to OFRF’s 2018 research grant program, please contact liz@ofrf.org.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.

The Language of Soil Health-Wayne Honeycutt

“Agricultural practices that enhance soil health are as good for the farmer as they are for the environment. Proven benefits of healthy soil include boosting crop yields, enhancing water quality, increasing drought resilience, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing carbon sequestration and building disease suppression.

“To continue growth and adoption of practices that benefit the health of our nation’s soils, the Soil Health Institute (SHI) has endorsed a list of 19 “Tier 1” soil health measurements. After three years of gathering input and feedback from scientists, farmers, field conservationists, soil test labs and more, these specific measurements, when regionally defined, help define management strategies to improve soil function – like nutrient and water availability.

“Farmers in each region of the United States face different struggles and challenges when it comes to maintaining and increasing soil health. With such a wide variation in soil type, moisture, precipitation and countless other factors, managing soil health consistently and creating standard measurements for soil testing across the industry are not easy tasks. To continue the growth and adoption of soil health practices, SHI is taking steps to streamline this process for better communication and a shared understanding of how the industry measures and improves soil health.

“These indicators are considered the best measures that are currently available for farmers to define soil health in regionally specific conditions.”

Read the Full Article here: https://groundwork.ag/groundswell/the-language-of-soil-health

Changing the Landscape of Soil Health