Our Impact

We work with many partners to conduct and translate soil health science into action that benefits farmers, the environment, and society. 

Strategic Planning

Developed a comprehensive Theory of Change, Action Plan, and Strategic Goals to advance the science and adoption of soil health systems, while bringing on-farm and environmental benefits to scale.

Business Case

Discovered that net income increased for 85% of farmers growing corn and 88% of farmers growing soybean with regenerative soil health systems across 100 farms and 9 states. This addresses a high priority information gap for farmers when considering new management practices.

Evaluated economics of soil health systems on 5 cotton farms across 5 states. Found that 100% of farmers interviewed increased net income by an average of $100/acre when using a regenerative soil health system.

Measurements

Evaluated 31 soil health measurements at 124 agricultural research sites across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to answer the question “How should soil health be measured?”

Established partnerships with over 100 scientists at universities, USDA, AAFC, CIMMYT, and others to create the most comprehensive database of management impacts on soil health in the world. Project design is described by Norris et al. (2020).

Farmer Education and Outreach

Provided soil health education programs to over 17,000 growers and their advisers on such topics as management systems to improve soil health, economics of soil health systems, how soil carbon benefits farming, best measurements for assessing soil health, and many others.

Provided on-line educational resources for farmers and their advisers, including: 6 farmer-to-farmer videos (>9000 views), 13 virtual field days (>15,000 views), 8 farmer panel showcases (>14,000 views), and numerous webinars, presentations, and fact sheets.

Distributed economics of soil health information via 14 webinars and 11 fact sheets to over 3000 stakeholders from 42 countries, including over 400 farmers managing 550,000 acres.

Integrated new equations into USDA’s COMET-Farm tool that provides farmers, consultants, and scientists with predictions of how soil health practices increase drought resilience.

Elevated awareness of the opportunity for addressing climate change in ways that benefit farmers through a Climate Week Event on “Achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions in U.S. Agriculture through Soil Health”, attracting over 900 participants from 49 countries.

Through annual meetings, convened global experts in agriculture, soil science, environmental science, and policy for more than 6000 farmers, advisers, scientists, food and beverage companies, and others from over 1800 organizations and 67 countries. In 2021, this included 170 farmers managing 685,000 acres.

Research & Development

Discovered that approximately twice as much water can be stored in soils by increasing carbon than previously reported and widely assumed. Developed new equations to predict how changes in soil organic carbon impact available water holding capacity and therefore drought resilience. These results will increase farmers’ motivation to adopt regenerative soil health systems, thereby scaling up the environmental benefits for society.

Assessed impacts of tillage on the soil microbiome across North America. Discovered that reducing tillage resulted in soil microbial communities more capable of thriving under diverse environmental conditions. This means that as more climate extremes are experienced, those microbial communities present in reduced tillage systems are more resilient to those extremes, and can therefore carry on their functions of building soil aggregates, cycling nutrients, and others.

Conducted a national survey of 10,000 farmers to assess their interest in the impacts of agricultural inputs on soil health. Found that 66% of respondents are interested in this topic, thereby identifying an important need for further advancing regenerative soil health systems.

Provided scientific leadership engaging physicians, dietitians, agronomists, soil scientists, and other professions to explore soil health – human health connections, resulting in identification of 10 priorities for advancing that understanding.

Initiated and co-led an evaluation on the state of knowledge on the soil health – human health connection through the food nutrition pathway by analyzing published literature. Upon finding little research useful for assessing that connection, we recommended future experimental designs for investigating that relationship.

Communications & Consumer Education

Produced the Living Soil documentary describing how innovative farmers across the U.S. are using soil health practices to improve their economic situation and benefit the environment. The documentary has been viewed over 3.5 million times and translated into over 20 languages.

Developed and released lesson plans for High School and College levels to accompany the Living Soil documentary.

Developed a catalog of over 40 on-line soil health educational resources for K-12 curricula.

Developed Resources for farmers and consumers on soil health practices, economics, ecosystem services, measurement, policy, research, climate change, communications, and others.

Developed “Soil Health 360” to help keep farmers and consumers updated on the latest news, blogs, press releases, website posts, and other information on soil health.

Policy

Analyzed the Impact of the 2018 Farm Bill on Soil Health, partnering with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in analyzing 60 Farm Bill provisions deemed important for impacting soil health.

Developed a catalog of over 280 state level agency, legislative, and NGO programs and policies pertaining to soil health.

Provided evidence-based information to policymakers, including a 2018 congressional briefing on soil health during the 2018 Farm Bill deliberations.

Partnered with USDA-SARE and University of Missouri to assess the status of soil health adoption based on the census of agriculture from 2012 to 2017.

Resources

View All >

We provide the scientific leadership for understanding, managing, and measuring soil health systems.

Our Strategy >

The Soil Health Institute’s work and ongoing efforts to advance soil science around the world.

Our Initiatives >