(Posted Fri. Jan 30th, 2015)
The Soil Health Partnership ended its first year of demonstration farm implementation with a Soil Health Summit in St. Louis. The Partnership hosted academic experts, industry representatives, conservation specialists and farmers from among the six states participating in the program.
“This event not only made it possible to gather program representatives under one roof for evaluation purposes, but also gave us an opportunity to put a spotlight on soil health in general,” said NCGA Manager for Soil Health and Sustainability Nick Goeser. “The United Nations declared 2015 as the International Year of Soils, so what better way is there to celebrate this initiative than to share what we are doing to improve soil health?”
Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, deputy chief for science and technology with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, kicked off proceedings by communicating the value of partnerships, especially when it comes to improving the health of our nation’s soils.
“When you look at all of the demands, the production, the breadth of the country, the climatic zones, the different types of cropping systems – it’s more than one individual entity, government or private, can do by themselves,” said Honeycutt.
Cornell University Professor of Soil and Water Management Dr. Harold van Es spoke to participants on the soil’s functional diversity.
“Healthy soil functions well,” explained van Es. “It allows for good crops to be grown or good trees to be grown in urban environments, it allows for filtration of water, it sustains very important biological functions…and of course, we build our homes on soil.”
Tim Smith of Iowa was one of the first farmers to sign up for the program.
“I can see the soil conservation benefits and I can see the nutrient reduction benefits, but I think the soil health benefits are what’s going to help sell it to other farmers,” said Smith.
NCGA administrates the program which is funded by grants by Monsanto, The Walton Family Foundation and a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant.