Our Story

Sustaining Soil, Safeguarding Life Impacts Goals

In 2013, the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and the Farm Foundation, NFP, convened leaders from agricultural industry, farms, ranches, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations to examine the current state of our world’s soil health and its roles in a vibrant, profitable, and sustainable ecosystem. As the group identified diverse and complex issues regarding soil health, it became clear that a collaborative organization was needed to spearhead accurate, science-based information, create a sense of urgency, and coordinate leadership. Thus, the Noble Foundation and the Farm Foundation created the Soil Health Institute, whose mission is to:

“Safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement.”

As an independent, nonprofit organization charged with coordinating and supporting soil stewardship and advancing soil health, the Soil Health Institute (SHI) is focused on fundamental and applied research and ensuring its adoption. We recognize that soil health must emerge as the cornerstone of land use management decisions throughout the world during the 21st century because healthy soil is the foundation of life and society. Enhancing soil health allows us to improve water quality, increase drought resilience, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve farm economies, provide pollinator habitat, and better position us to feed the 9.7 billion people expected in the world by 2050.

The SHI program is designed to move scientific knowledge and technology from the research laboratory to the farm field by bringing together traditional and non-traditional agricultural industry partners, farmers, ranchers, government agencies, scientists, and consumers to focus on one common, clear goal: protecting and enriching our soils. The Soil Health Institute is committed to working with all partners to enhance and disseminate knowledge and technologies directed at key soil processes to increase productivity, resilience, and environmental quality; identify research and adoption gaps; coordinate national partnerships to address those gaps; and help drive the transformational changes needed for the betterment of soil health and ultimately society.

The success of the Institute’s programs depends on strategic partnerships with individuals and organizations that conduct or sponsor research, outreach, education, and implementation of soil health knowledge and technologies in ways that complement our own. In turn, these partnerships allow the SHI to lead, sponsor, and implement programs well beyond our individual capacity. Just a few examples of our partners include faculty at universities across the country, scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, experts in other federal and state government agencies, non-governmental field-oriented organizations such as the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy, professional societies such as the Soil Science Society of America and the Soil and Water Conservation Society, organizations with regional and local knowledge such as the National Association of Conservation Districts, private laboratories using current methods of soil analysis, and communications professionals with a track record of communicating information about agriculture and the environment.