Senate Staffers Hear About the Intersection of Soil Health and Climate Change

(Posted Tue. Jul 30th, 2019)

Keywords: policy sustainability conservation

    A standing-room-only crowd attended a briefing: “An Overview of Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry” in Washington, D.C. today to hear experts like Executive Director of the Soil Health Partnership Dr. Shefali Mehta, highlight the agricultural practices farmers are adopting that can help mitigate climate change.   The briefing was hosted by the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry and targeted a diverse group of staffers interested in learning more about how farming practices are helping make farmers more resilient in the face of a changing climate.   “Practices such as reducing or eliminating tillage and growing cover crops can improve soil health, and they also hold the potential to increase carbon sequestration and storage and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agricultural production,” Mehta said. “In addition to their role in climate change mitigation, these practices can make agricultural land—and farm operations—more...

Sustainability: Making Dollars and Sense in Agricultural Sustainability Programs

(Posted Wed. Jun 26th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability

Consumer interest in where and how their food is produced is on the rise, and many leading brands and retail companies have responded by setting ambitious sustainable sourcing commitments. However, plenty of challenges remain to make sure all participants, from farmer to retailer, share in the value from the evolving marketplace.   Better understanding this conundrum and finding solutions and incentives throughout the value chain is a key topic of discussion at the Field to Market Meeting in Oakbrook, Ill. this week. NCGA staff, including Rachel Orf, Director of Stewardship and Sustainability, are in attendance seeking opportunities to partner with other organizations and companies on projects.   Orf says many farmers are making substantive changes in their farming operations with sustainability goals in mind. But, for the progress to continue, there must be clear incentives to enhance farmers’ livelihoods such as protecting and maintaining farm productivity and better prices...

Exploring the Role of Corn Sustainability in the Beef Supply Chain

(Posted Wed. Apr 3rd, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Livestock Animal Agr

The National Corn Growers Association participated in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef’s Feed Transparency Summit at McDonalds Headquarters in Chicago last week. Representatives from the major grain aggregators, feed yards, packers, brands and retailers, as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were also present.   “Continuing to be a part of these conversations is extremely important, as corn and DDGs are a primary component of rations fed to beef cattle,” said NCGA First Vice President and Iowa farmer Kevin Ross. “The meeting was the first step towards exploring opportunities to pilot a collaborative project between the grain and beef value chains to improve transparency. Consumers are asking more and more questions about where their food comes from. The summit brought together stakeholders from across the beef supply chain to discuss that.”   Each group in attendance had the opportunity to expand upon the challenges and opportunities within their industry and...

 NCGA Releases Pollinator Protection Guide

(Posted Tue. Apr 2nd, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

The National Corn Growers Association – in partnership with the Honey Bee Health Coalition – is releasing new best management practices (BMPs) to protect bees and other pollinators in and around corn fields.   At roughly 92 million acres, field corn covers more land than any other row crop in the country, and in the Midwest Corn Belt, corn often makes up to 40 percent of the landscape or more. The BMPs presented in the NCGA’s new guide identify potential effects of agricultural practices on bees at each stage of production and recommend ways to mitigate those impacts.   The digital publication showcases specific strategies such as reducing dust and drift while planting a pesticide-treated seed.   “While corn does not rely on honey bees for pollination like some crops, bees depend on neighboring plants for forage,” said Nathan Fields, NCGA vice president of production and sustainability. “As good stewards of the land, corn growers can follow these BMPs to help protect honey...

Good Weed! Bad Weed!

(Posted Thu. Mar 28th, 2019)

Keywords: Conservations Sustainability

If you’re a city dweller, you probably don’t think much about weeds except for the occasionally dandelion in your front yard. Gardeners often have a mixed opinion on weeds depending on the specific kind, and if you are a professional farmer, you likely see nothing redeeming about weeds.   While lambsquarter gives some farmers nightmares, others cultivate it in their gardens because they say it’s delicious.  As with most things time softens or even change opinions. Given that it is National Weed Appreciation Day, it seems a good time to explore the emerging school of thought that not all weeds are created equal. So, is it a good weed or a bad weed?   Some folks prefer to wax poetic and argue a weed is simply a plant growing out of place. Well, that’s largely hokum. They got their original classification as weeds because they have no redeeming value as far as food, nutrition or medicine are concerned. But there is a growing appreciation for the ecological contributions being...

Soil Health Partnership Announces Several Open Positions

(Posted Mon. Mar 25th, 2019)

Keywords: sustainability conservation

As the Soil Health Partnership heads into its fifth year of long-term data collection on working farms, the organization is hiring for several roles to support its expanding footprint. Open roles include Development Director, a Michigan Research Manager, Soil Health Kansas-Nebraska Field Manager, and Soil Health Minnesota Field Manager.   The Development Director plays a critical role in leading the relationships and partnership development for the SHP. The Development Director will provide internal support to the SHP Executive Director and work closely with the team of National Directors. This position will partner with the SHP National staff to build a comprehensive partnership and relationship plan to ensure long-term support of our unique on-farm science program. The position will also provide oversight of and contribution to communication efforts.   The Michigan Soil Health Research Manager will provide technical assistance and research collaboration for the Soil Health...

Consider Pollinator Plantings as You Gear Up for Spring

(Posted Tue. Mar 19th, 2019)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

If you are a Monarch butterfly supporter buckle up because here’s some good news. The yearly count of the Eastern Monarch butterfly population that overwinters in Mexico was released recently, showing an increase of 144 percent over last year’s count.   After years of struggles with a host of challenges from bad weather to loss of habitat, the large butterfly count - the highest count since 2006 comes as welcome news. But not too fast, because Western Monarchs continue to struggle due to drought, wildfires, pesticides and loss of habitat.   Landowners and farmers are uniquely situated to support the Monarch and are already making a difference. Habitat plantings can fit into many niches on the agricultural landscape, including conservation lands, grazing lands, rights-of-way, field margins, field borders, pivot corners, conservation lands, ditches, buffers and other low-productive lands. Milkweed and other nectar-producing flowers planted in these areas yield multiple on-farm...

Minnesota Farm Family Represents Generations of Stewardship

(Posted Wed. Mar 6th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability

A Minnesota farm family’s four generation conservation initiative garnered national attention at the Commodity Classic in Orlando, Fla. The National Corn Growers Association’s presented Rick Schlichting’s - Schlichting Farms of Rice, Minn. with its 2019 Good Steward Recognition.   “NCGA defines sustainability as the pursuit of constant improvement and the Schlichting family personifies this description,” said Lynn Chrisp, NCGA president of Hastings, Neb. “Their progressive farming practices and contributions to healthier soils, cleaner water and sustainable crop production are nothing short of extraordinary.”   The program and recognition funding are provided by the NCGA’s Stewardship Action Team to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.   The Schlichtings farm 6,600 acres of cropland, and the operation reflects their commitment to the concept of regenerative agriculture. They employ cover corps, crop rotation, extreme nutrient...

The Bottom-Line Benefits of Sustainability

(Posted Tue. Feb 26th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

In today’s economic environment it’s more important than ever to focus on business survival as a key element of all the management decisions you make, and this is true of efforts to make the farm more sustainable too.   As agriculture and society become more focused on sustainability, efforts that emphasize the bottom-line benefits of moving to more sustainable practices are on the rise. And, this week, that’s the focus of a special Learning Center session at this year’s Commodity Classic sponsored by National Corn Growers Association.    So, join Shefali Mehta, executive director of soil and sustainability, NCGA; Nathan Fields, NCGA vice president of production and sustainability and Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability, Environmental Defense Fund on March 1 from 2:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. in room W208 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.   Fields says there is an emerging pathway to cleaner water, healthier soil and a potential income...

Planting is Coming and So Are the Pests. Are You Ready?

(Posted Wed. Feb 20th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation production

If you haven’t looked into the innovative and proactive Take Action initiative of late, it might be a great time to give the widely expanded program supported by National Corn Growers Association and a host of partners a closer look.   The great news is the educational campaign is evolving and growing at a fast pace and now provides information on dealing with herbicide-resistant weeds, and fungicide and insect resistance.   Finding a clearer path to a more sustainable and profitable way to farm is made much easier thanks to Take Action. The mission here is to choose the best available tools and technology for the environment, your balance sheet and all with an eye on preserving access to these important tools. Informed management is just smart farming.   Take Action on Weeds, which the National Corn Growers Association promotes as a resource of farmers combating herbicide resistance issues, was developed by the United Soybean Board. Based on that success new technical...

Soil Health Partnership Call for Proposals

(Posted Wed. Feb 13th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) announced it is accepting proposals for partnerships and collaboration for 2019. SHP encourages any organization or individuals who have an interest in working together to submit ideas.   “At the SHP, we collaborate with a diverse network of partners ranging from universities to industry and government groups to non-profits,” said Dr. Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These broad partnerships enable SHP to maximize the impact of our work. This year we are making this specific call for proposals to ensure that we continue to seek out diverse partners and include a fuller range of ideas.”   Applicants are required to complete the Request for Partnership form on the SHP website. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 15, 2019.   “Whether working with soil science or agronomy experts, developing a partnership in a new state as we expand our farmer network, or fueling a graduate student’s passion for soil...

Weak Farm Economy Not Hampering Drive to Healthier Soils

(Posted Thu. Jan 17th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

This week’s Soil Health Summit 2019 with Soil Health Partnership was the largest ever—360 registered attendees made their way to St. Louis to learn and network. A diverse group including farmers, corporations, educators and environmental groups spent two days talking about soil health. The summit provided many takeaway messages and insights of interest. Here are just a few:   Enthusiasm for learning new sustainability practices and adopting new farm management tools to protect and improve soil is not being slowed by a prolonged downturn in the farm economy. Many farmers, landlords, and others are investing in the long game to assure more sustainable and profitable agriculture.   SHP outreach is building a diverse coalition of partners from farms all the way to consumers. The program and the network being created is growing rapidly.   The common interest of proving the latest farming techniques, building healthier soils, cleaner water while maintaining farmer...

Second Annual Soil Health Summit Awards Honor Best in Soil Health

(Posted Wed. Jan 16th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

Five dedicated leaders in soil health received “Seeds of Change” awards at the 2019 Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 15-16 in St. Louis. These awards highlight those participants in the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to promote soil health throughout the year.    “The Soil Health Partnership’s strength has its roots in our committed and supportive partners—especially the farmers and agronomists who play an important role in our ability to support research-based practices,” said Dr. Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These five individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we thank them for their great work.”   The five award recipients are:   Super Sprout: Brian Ryberg, Buffalo Lake, Minnesota. As a first-year member of the partnership, Ryberg has jumped right into active involvement with activities that included holding a field day. Ryberg values collaboration, according to SHP staff, and has worked...

Look Down, You Are Standing on Our Future

(Posted Tue. Jan 15th, 2019)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

How do we feed a growing population and meet additional, related demand from other sectors for crops (like corn) while also addressing farmers and consumers desire for continuous improvement, healthier soils and cleaner water? Enter the Soil Health Partnership.   Today and tomorrow, SHP is hosting a meeting with national significance called the Soil Health Summit 2019 in St. Louis, Mo.  SHP Executive Director Shefali Mehta says the diverse partnership is “a gathering of unlikely partners” that includes farmers, agronomists, environmental groups, and partners from throughout the value chain from the farm all the way to finished consumer products.   Mehta, notes a key thing that sets SHP apart is supporters moved beyond “just talking” quickly, and the “unlikely partners” rallied around their shared desire to help farmers improve soil health while maintaining and improving profitability. The result is a boots-on-the-ground effort that is turning farmers fields into a research...

NCGA Statement on WOTUS Rule

(Posted Tue. Dec 11th, 2018)

Keywords: wotus policy conservation sustainability

National Corn Growers Association President Lynn Chrisp made the following statement on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) release of the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The new rule replaces the 2015 WOTUS rule that would have increased regulatory burdens and costs for farmers.   “Farmers rely on clean water and are committed to protecting our environment and the communities where we live and work. With a clear understanding of what is and is not jurisdictional under the Clean Water Act, farmers can implement stewardship practices such as grass waterways and buffer strips without the burden of bureaucratic red tape or the fear of legal action.   “NCGA looks forward to fully reviewing the new WOTUS rule to ensure that it provides clear jurisdictional boundaries to farmers, protects our nation’s water and can be implemented without confusion.”

Soil Health Partnership Expands New Program to Grow Network and Data
Phase 2 of pilot Associate Program announced on World Soil Day

(Posted Tue. Dec 4th, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability conservation

Just in time for World Soil Day on December 5, the Soil Health Partnership announced it is expanding a pilot project to give more farmers access to the soil health network.    As the organization launches phase 2 of its pilot Associate Program, it will invite 75 farmers to enroll in 2019. This will enable more farmers to join SHP in its mission of using science and data to support farmers in adopting agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm.    The economic component of soil health has taken on an increasing level of urgency during a difficult farm economy, said Shefali Mehta, executive director of the Soil Health Partnership.   “We’ve seen increasing demand from farmers who would like to join our network,” Mehta said. “Expanding the pilot phase of our Associate Program provides a great number of farmers with access to a scientific platform to evaluate soil health as part of a comprehensive management strategy.”   Joining...

NCGA, USFRA Put Farming Sustainability in the Spotlight in Denver

(Posted Thu. Nov 15th, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

The National Corn Growers Association joined other agricultural groups in telling farmers’ sustainability story during the “Cultivating Collaboration for Sustainable Food Systems” at the 2018 Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Denver this week. Lauren Biegler, a farmer from Minnesota who participates in both CommonGround and the Soil Health Partnership, represented the association during this dynamic panel, which was hosted and organized by the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance.   USFRA believes that farmers and ranchers are the solution to enhanced sustainability practices and varying climate patterns. The panel, hosted during this value chain- inclusive event, shared the current practices farmers employ and the potential for further improvement in the future with retailers and companies focused on consumer packaged goods.   During the session, farmers representing various commodities discussed the importance of communication and collaboration in working towards a shared goal of...

NCGA Names Robyn Allscheid Director of Research and Productivity

(Posted Thu. Nov 15th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association welcomes back Robyn Allscheid, who rejoins the organization as the director of Research and Productivity in the St. Louis, Mo. office.  Allscheid previously served at NCGA as manager of research and business development from 2008 to 2010. She will serve as staff lead for the Corn Productivity and Quality Action Team as well as leading NCGA’s research programs.   “Robyn has a deep background, both academically and professionally, that will help NCGA coordinate and develop research programs across the state and national levels,” said Vice President of Production and Sustainability Nathan Fields.  “Her proven skill and previous experience have allowed her to hit the ground running, already adding to the team in a positive, productive way that will benefit our efforts to maintain and create opportunities for U.S. corn farmers.”   Allscheid comes to NCGA from the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center where she ran the lab for the Center’s...

Environmental Defense Fund, National Corn Growers Association Launch First-of-Its-Kind Partnership

(Posted Wed. Nov 14th, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability farm policy

Powerful collaboration will scale conservation through data, policy and farmer outreach   Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) today announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between an environmental organization and commodity crop association. The partnership aims to address one of the most pressing challenges for today’s farmers, rural communities and natural resources – how to improve environmental outcomes while optimizing productivity and profitability.   “Many practices that increase soil health and water quality also boost farmers’ bottom lines,” said Suzy Friedman, senior director of agricultural sustainability at EDF. “EDF and NCGA have worked together for many years to align economic incentives and environmental outcomes. Formalizing our partnership was a natural next step to accelerate progress toward our shared goals.”   “The public expects greater stewardship and transparency from farmers, and it’s critical for the...

Commodity Leaders Join Forces on Sustainability Research
Pork, Soybean and Corn Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Sustainability Research

(Posted Wed. Nov 7th, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability

The National Pork Board (NPB), United Soybean Board (USB) and National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a sustainability research platform that will benefit all three organizations and their producers. This research program will include the sharing of completed research, coordination on current and planned research and define ways to share and communicate results with each organization’s members.   Leadership from the three commodity groups agree that it is prudent to consider specific ways in which they might work together more effectively to ensure alignment and collaboration in sustainability research and how the results can and will be communicated and shared.   “Sustainability is defined by the We CareSM ethical principles pork producers established over 10 years ago,” said National Pork Board President Steve Rommereim, a pig farmer from Alcester, South Dakota. “Joining in the efforts of two other organizations,...

(Posted Fri. Aug 24th, 2018)

Keywords: conservation sustainability

Water management and water quality are the key focus this week for State and National Corn Growers Association staff attending a one of a kind meeting on Put-In-Bay South Bass Island in Lake Erie.   The goal of the Summer Water Quality Meeting is to better understand how algal blooms on the lake became a national story and more importantly how agriculture and its allies are responding, said Tadd Nicholson, Executive Director of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association.   The heart of the two-day meeting was a tour of Stone Lab, Ohio State University’s research center which is supported and operated by the University in partnership with Ohio Sea Grant program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.   The Stone Lab allows researchers to identify plankton, measure chlorophyll content and cyanobacteria toxins which can result from blooms of blue green algae. They also test for nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen which enter the lake from multiple sources...

(Posted Tue. Aug 21st, 2018)

Keywords: farm policy conservation sustainability

On Monday, a broad coalition of agriculture organizations, including the National Corn Growers Association, asked a federal district court in South Carolina to stay its order striking a rule that delayed implementation of the 2015 Waters of the U.S. rule. Absent a stay, the court order puts the 2015 rule in effect in the 26 states where courts have not already stayed its implementation.   The coalition warned of the “patchwork regulatory regime” created by allowing implementation of the WOTUS rule in about half the nation.   “Enormously consequential national regula­tions like the WOTUS rule—which subject commonplace activities involved in building, farming, and pest management to a complex and burdensome federal permitting and enforcement scheme—should not apply differently depending on whether the activity happens to be located on one side of a state line or the other,” the organizations wrote in their filing with the court.

Dr. Shefali Mehta Tapped as New Leader of Soil Health Partnership

(Posted Thu. Aug 16th, 2018)

Keywords: conservation sustainability

Shefali Mehta had a fascination with plants from early in her childhood. From her time growing up in New England, through her education and work in agriculture in the U.S. and around the world, she followed her passion, launching a notable career as an agricultural and environmental economist.   Mehta has been tapped as the new executive director of the Soil Health Partnership, a long-term data project that measures and quantifies the impact of farm management practices known to promote healthy soils.     “Everything we have literally starts with the soil, which is intimately connected to our very survival and ability to take care of current and future generations,” Mehta said.   Soil health is taking on elevated importance in agriculture as a means to protect topsoil, helping farmers manage extreme weather, increase profitability, protect water quality and sequester carbon. Practices that improve soil health include growing cover crops, reducing tillage and taking a...

(Posted Thu. Aug 2nd, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

Visit Brian Corkill’s Twitter page, and you’ll learn that he’s a farmer, husband, father, Illini and coach, with a passion for “Ag, technology, learning and preserving what we have for future generations.”   The 48-year-old Corkill, who owns and runs BA Farms in Galva, Illinois, is among the growing number of farmers engaging in social media to enhance farm business, learn, and connect with his industry. The Soil Health Partnership has launched a new campaign to reach more farmers like Corkill on social media and help them get “soil smart.”   “It’s pretty clear to me that social media isn’t just a fad, and if we want to help other farmers learn the value soil health can bring to their operation, we can reach them through social channels,” Corkill said.    Corkill, an enrolled farmer in the Soil Health Partnership, serves on a committee that helped shape the  new #SoilSmart campaign, which launched Aug. 1 and will run through the fall. Funded by a grant from the Walton Family...

Good Steward Aug. 6, Deadline Rapidly Approaching

(Posted Mon. Jul 30th, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

If you have a farmer friend, neighbor or family member who epitomizes the title “Good Steward” then please take a minute to consider nominating them for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition Program before the 5 p.m. CDT, Aug. 6, 2018 deadline.   We’re looking for a farmer who always does their job with a keen eye on improving the productivity and sustainability of their farm for future generations so if you know one let’s make sure they get recognized.   This year anyone can nominate a candidate for recognition if they are a Corn Grower member. NCGA affiliate states and organizational partners may also submit the nomination(s). One recipient will be selected from a field of nominees submitted by NCGA state affiliates and other corn industry and organizational partners.     Nomination forms must be completed jointly by the nominating party and the nominee and will be processed through NCGA. Selection of the Good Steward Recognition will be made by...

(Posted Mon. Jul 2nd, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability conservation

If you have a farmer friend, neighbor or family member who epitomizes the title “Good Steward” then please take a minute to consider nominating them for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition Program. We’re looking for a farmer who always does their job with a keen eye on improving the productivity and sustainability of their farm for future generations.   Every profession has its early adopters that point the way for others, and National Corn Growers Association thinks these good stewards of the land are special people who deserve to be recognized. If you agree and know of a good candidate, nominations are due 5:00 p.m. CDT August 6, 2018.    This year any one can nominate a candidate for recognition as long as they are a Corn Grower member. NCGA affiliate states and organizational partners may also submit nomination(s). One recipient will be selected from a field of nominees submitted by NCGA state affiliates and other corn industry and...

(Posted Mon. Jul 2nd, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

Representatives from farmers through the entire production chain met in Madison, Wis. last week for the bi-annual meeting of Field to Market, including representatives of the National Corn Growers Association.   Field to Market is a collaborative effort emphasizing the inclusion of diverse perspectives, a foundation of science- and outcomes-based approaches to sustainability, and a focus on commodity crops with recognition of their unique supply chains.   “We approved our 138th member company at this meeting and I think it’s indicative of the support to grow sustainability in our society,” said Keith Alverson, who serves on the board of NCGA and Field to Market.  “This represents 9% growth since last year at this time and we continue to host important discussions on supply chain sustainability from all ends of the supply chain spectrum.”   Alverson said, “NCGA has a clear role and mission of engagement at Field to Market of representing a grower voice and help inform others...

Collaborative Effort on Climate Change

(Posted Fri. Apr 20th, 2018)

Keywords: Sustainability

If the farming profession had a job description somewhere it would say good problem-solving skills and adaptable to change. New products, new technology, new policies, changing markets, changing weather and now on an even broader stage…climate change.   Nick Goeser, National Corn Growers Association’s vice president of production and sustainability, notes there is significant data indicating some key weather and climate factors have indeed changed in many corn growing states across the United States, and with the shift comes new challenges as well as real opportunities.   Identifying and assessing these challenges and opportunities and crafting appropriate next steps is the driving force behind the Climate Task Force formed by NCGA a year ago. The multidisciplinary group – made up of farmers and representatives of NGOs, input suppliers, processors, food companies, retailers, academia and state corn association staff – recently wrapped up its initial charter of developing...

Soil Health Partnership Begins Search for New Director as Organization Continues to Grow

(Posted Mon. Mar 26th, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability

Goeser to remain engaged in new role with National Corn Growers Association   As the Soil Health Partnership heads into its fourth year of long-term data collection on working farms, some changes are afoot among the staff due to promotions, and several positions are open. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of soil health-promoting practices from an economic as well as environmental standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   NCGA has promoted Nick Goeser, who has served as the project’s director since its launch in 2014, to the position of NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability.   Goeser said while the promotion offers a great new opportunity for professional impact, the decision to leave SHP was exceptionally difficult. However, in his new role at NCGA, he will serve as a member of the SHP Steering Committee and remain engaged with the Science Advisory...

Soil Health Partnership Builds One of Largest U.S. Databases of Soil Health Sample Info from Working Farms

(Posted Mon. Mar 12th, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The seeds of good data have been planted—and the Soil Health Partnership is eager to harvest early results.   The organization’s team is currently preparing for another round of robust soil sampling, a critical part of identifying, testing and measuring farm management practices that improve sustainability through soil health. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the program’s goal is to quantify the benefits of these practices–like growing cover crops in the off-season and reducing tillage—from an economic standpoint, showing farmers how healthy soil benefits their bottom line.   “We have spent the first few years carefully constructing the infrastructure within our program to make sure that we have scientifically credible data,” said Nick Goeser, NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability. “We are now beginning to make early sense of the scope and scale of the dataset collected over last 3 and a half years – and we are eagerly anticipating the...

Kansas Farm Family Showcases New Sustainability Ethic on the Farm

(Posted Thu. Mar 1st, 2018)

Keywords: conservation sustainability

A Kansas farm family’s soil-friendly, progressive farming practices and contributions to sustainable crop production earned them national notoriety as they were presented with the National Corn Growers Association’s 2018 Good Steward Recognition. Randy and Nicole Small of Neodesha, Kansas received the Good Steward designation at the Commodity Classic convention and trade show in Anaheim, CA. The program and recognition funding is provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of their Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture. “NCGA is known for taking the lead on many issues in the policy arena that effect our members, but we also work constantly to promote positive change and improvements in how we farm,” said Kevin Skunes, NCGA president from Arthur, North Dakota. “The Small family has a long history of enhancing the farm's soil and natural resources spanning several generations. They provide a...

(Posted Thu. Feb 22nd, 2018)

Keywords: sustainability conservation

As interest grows in soil health and its potential to optimize farming, the Soil Health Partnership has developed a new tool to immerse the inquisitive. Partnering with StoryUP, the nonprofit ag group has produced a “virtual reality” video that will allow viewers to visit a farm enrolled in SHP and experience a Virtual Field Day.   "One of our most powerful assets is our enrolled farmers sharing their stories and knowledge with others," said NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability, Nick Goeser. "This video format allows viewers to transport themselves to a farm and learn from the farmer as if they are standing right there with him at a field day. We are all about innovation, and that spirit extends to our communications program."   Virtual reality is 360-degree, 3D video or computer-generated environments viewed with special goggles where the user can see in all directions.   After giving some attendees of the Soil Health Summit a preview in January, the SHP...

(Posted Tue. Jan 23rd, 2018)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

Innovators. Educators. Communicators. Those are just some of the words used to describe the four recipients of the newly inaugurated “Seeds of Change Awards” at the 2018 Soil Health Partnership Summit, Jan. 18-19 in Chicago. These awards were developed to highlight those members of the Soil Health Partnership who go above and beyond to advocate for the partnership and for soil health throughout the year.     “The Soil Health Partnership could not exist without the willingness and enthusiasm of our partners—especially the farmers and agronomists on the front lines of our research,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “These four individuals exemplify the very best of our dedicated partners, and we look forward to honoring others as the research continues and our partnership expands.”   The four award recipients are:   Super Spout: Andrew Reuschel, Golden, Illinois. Andrew is a first-year member of the partnership who is passionate about soil health,...

(Posted Thu. Sep 22nd, 2016)

Keywords: Soil Health Partnership; SHP Sustainability

Top 5 Things Farmers Need to Know About Roots and Tiles   As cover crop acres increase throughout the Midwest, some farmers have questions about possible unintended consequences. Last spring, a few growers in Central Indiana reported tile blockages due to roots (See article).   Some assumed that cover crop roots were the culprit. Yet cover crop acres have increased the past five years, and almost no issues were reported in prior years. Cover crops significantly help reduce soil erosion, keep nutrients from leaching, and increase soil organic matter.   Here are the top 5 things farmers should know about potential roots in tile drains, according to the Soil Health Partnership:   Weather can be a major factor. The warm fall of 2015 and mild winter of 2016, followed by the very warm March and wet April resulted in more cover crop top growth and perhaps more root growth than normal.  An Ontario, Canada report suggested that roots grow downward in the soil profile to reach...

Project to develop model for large-scale greenhouse gas reduction incentives

(Posted Fri. Sep 9th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability SHP Soil Health Partnership

A $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help spur a groundbreaking effort to optimize farm enterprise profitability, reduce Greenhouse Gases and improve agronomic productivity. The National Corn Growers Association received the grant to develop a system for scalable carbon accounting in agriculture, to be developed through its Soil Health Partnership initiative.   Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this year's Conservation Innovation Grant recipients on September 8. The competitive grant "stimulates the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural land."   Under the NCGA project, the SHP and other project partners will develop a "greenhouse gas insetting framework." The framework will serve as a model for corporations and other entities to drive conservation adoption and achieve GHG reductions, as well as economic profitability benefits.   Carbon insetting is similar to "offsetting," in...

(Posted Tue. Aug 9th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association welcomed two regulators from the Ministry of Agriculture in China today for discussions on the need to better synchronize regulatory systems and the importance U.S. farmers place upon the availability of new technologies. The meeting was only one stop in a three-month long program designed by Dr. Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, director of the Economics and Management of Agrobiotechnology Center at the University of Missouri – Columbia, through which the officials will delve into how the U.S. regulatory testing system functions.   In addition to NCGA, the team has already met with farmers, the U.S. Soybean Export Council and various private companies. Next, they will travel to Washington for discussions with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.   NCGA Vice President of Production and Stewardship Paul Bertels and Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nathan Fields participated in today’s discussion. In addition to learning more about the...

(Posted Thu. Jul 14th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

With only days remaining, the deadline for the National Corn Growers Association’s Good Steward Recognition nominations is quickly approaching. State affiliates, as well as industry and organizational partners, are urged to submit qualified growers dedicated to production standards that deliver high sustainable yields with extraordinary conservation and environmental benefits.     “Practical solutions are what drive the adoption of best practices on the farm,” said Brent Hostetler, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team. “Discovering new methods for improving soil health, preserving water quality and improving the profitability of farming benefits all farmers. To highlight these important advances, we recognize individuals who excel at demonstrating leadership in sustainable corn production through this program.”   NCGA is looking for a farmer who implements best management practices validating environmental stewardship, efficiency and productivity. One award...

(Posted Thu. Jun 30th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

This summer, Midwestern farmers interested in adopting innovative practices to improve the health of their soil can get their hands dirty at a series of field days. The  Soil Health Partnership will showcase how changing nutrient management and tillage strategies, along with cover crop adoption, can create lasting environmental and even economic benefits.   The organization plans about 35 field days beginning in June and running through September, with the majority concentrated in Iowa and Illinois. Events will also be scheduled in Indiana and other states.   “We ask a lot of our nation’s farmers:  To safely feed a growing world, grow more with less, and perform these tasks with continuous improvement,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “Time and again, they rise to the challenge with innovation and industriousness. Soil health is the next frontier, and more farmers are realizing that every day.”   Practices that protect and improve soil, such as...

(Posted Mon. Jun 20th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

June 20-27, 2016 is Pollinator Week.  The Honey Bee Health Coalition hopes to draw attention to the importance of honey bees to many agricultural crops and the increased stresses that have been reducing populations in overwintering bees over the last decade.   The National Corn Growers Association is one of nearly 40 organizations involved in the Honey Bee Health Coalition trying to achieve a healthy population of honey bees and other pollinators.   “Corn does not require pollination by honey bees, but NCGA recognizes the integral role they play in a productive agriculture system. We are committed to improving the health and viability of pollinators as part of our overall sustainability efforts,” said Chip Bowling, NCGA president and Newburg, Maryland farmer. “We are also engaged to assure steps being taken to help pollinators are well researched and based on science.”   The activist community has been spearheading efforts to blame neonicotinoid seed treatments as a primary...

(Posted Wed. Jun 15th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

By NCGA Director of Soil Health and Sustainability Nick Goeser, Ph.D.   We just celebrated World Oceans Day which carries the two-year theme of “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.” This is a reminder that we live together on one planet, with one global system that interacts across our society: Water, soil, air, plants and animals.    Farmers have a keen interest in understanding the diverse roles our oceans play and the links across this global system. In agriculture, the links between society, water soil, air, plants and animals are paramount and something that deserves to be top-of-mind every day.   Farmers wear many hats. They act as biologists, ecologists, soil scientists, agronomists, accountants, market analysts and more. As a result, farmers understand complex interactions across diverse systems - including the terrestrial effects on marine environments.  Farmers also recognize that oceans serve as an important resource for international trade and business. Oceans afford...

(Posted Tue. Jun 14th, 2016)

Keywords: Sustainability

Farmers, environmentalists and consumers alike have expressed a growing interest in sustainability and soil health recently. Yet, many wonder what precisely is being done to actively advance this important cause?   To answer that question, Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture released the paper Exploring Opportunities to Advance Soil Health: The Role of Commodity Crop Supply Chains in Maintaining and Improving the Health of Our Nation's Soil, which discusses the importance of soil health in the sustainability conversation and explores the current knowledge and status of testing and tools. Additionally, this paper provides information and guidance as to how Field to Market's Metrics and the Fieldprint© Calculator can be used to advance conversations about soil health in supply chain projects.   The publication is available on the Field to Market website. This paper came forth from the Alliance’s work to help inform how U.S. agriculture can improve soil...

(Posted Fri. Oct 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association took part in an important conversation on resistance management, at the Global Weed Symposium held in Paris, France. During the four-day meeting, which was hosted by Bayer CropScience and brought together leading academics, government officials, industry leaders and representation from grower-led associations, NCGA President Chip Bowling highlighted the growing weed resistance issues as personally witnessed on his Maryland farm as part of a panel discussion with researchers from the United States and Brazil.   Through discussions, it became clear that farmers face similar challenges across the globe in this area. With diverse participation inclusive of areas where biotechnology is and is not available, the participants found common issues indicating that weed resistance is not a result of GM technology but a larger problem that will require a proactive, integrated approach.   “Weed resistance is a growing problem for farmers in the United...

(Posted Thu. Sep 17th, 2015)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

If engagement in field days this summer is any measure, farmer interest in protecting the well-being of their land through the use of cover crops and other practices is strong and growing.   The Soil Health Partnership wrapped up its summer field days promoting cropping systems that improve soil health. More than 20 events took place in Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio and Nebraska. Farmers, conservation leaders, equipment companies and others demonstrated to attendees how changing conservation practices, such as adding cover crops, conservation tillage and improving nutrient use efficiency, can create lasting environmental benefits while potentially increasing farm productivity and income.   A field day in Lake Wilson, Minn., one of four events scheduled this week, had 55 participants. Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership, says average participation in the events has at least doubled from what the organization saw last year.   “Grower engagement at...

(Posted Mon. Jun 15th, 2015)

Keywords: Sustainability

The sustainability organization Field to Market experienced record-breaking attendance for its spring meeting last week. In addition to participating in discussions to help the White House learn more about U.S. agriculture’s efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions, the National Corn Growers Association took part in Thursday’s General Session program.   Jim Burg, a fifth-generation corn farmer from Wessington Springs, S.D., joined a panel of farmers to talk about sustainable practices in production agriculture.   “Farmers have been investing in conservation for years,” said Burg. “We have fenced creeks, maintained wildlife habitat, utilized biotechnology to help us reduce herbicides and insecticides, employed precision tools to optimize production, and worked with crop consultants to utilize our farm’s data. As a result, we have a cleaner environment, faster and more efficient ways to farm and more profitable operations. What is different today than in the past is that our...

(Posted Wed. Jun 10th, 2015)

Keywords: Sustainability

The National Corn Growers Association joined more than a dozen organizations and companies at the White House today to emphasize how the agricultural supply chain works together to advance sustainability and discuss how the federal government can help support this work.   As part of the White House Ag Sustainability Roundtable, Dr. Nick Goeser highlighted NCGA’s active participation in Field to Market and NCGA's administration of the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) – programs designed to document and demonstrate the value of best management systems for conservation and sustainability, and ultimately reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. As part of this commitment, the Soil Health Partnership will expand its SHP Demonstration Farm Network from 40 to 100 farms by 2018.   “Everyone across the ag supply chain has a role to play and a responsibility with conservation, but no one organization or company can do it alone,” said Goeser, who serves as director of SHP. “We all...

(Posted Mon. Mar 2nd, 2015)

Keywords: Sustainability

  The National Corn Growers Association named Mike Shuter from Frankton, Indiana, as this year’s honoree for the NCGA’s Good Steward Recognition Program during last week’s 2015 Commodity Classic convention and trade show. The award recognizes one U.S. farmer annually who is demonstrating leadership in sustainable corn production.   The program and award funding was provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation as part of its Harvesting the Potential campaign to raise awareness among U.S. farmers of the importance of conservation agriculture.   “When it comes to finding practical solutions to conserve and better natural resources on the farm, Mike Shuter has a mind you want to make sure you tap,” said NCGA President Chip Bowling. “His tireless enthusiasm for discovering new methods for improving his soil, preserving water quality and improving the profitability of farming makes everyone take notice.  Mike has really proven a superior commitment to sustainability through...

(Posted Fri. Nov 7th, 2014)

Keywords: Conservation Sustainability

The Soil Health Partnership holds its first Nebraska field day on Wednesday, November 12.  Corn farmer Greg Whitmore will host area growers, soil health experts and neighbors at the Central Valley Ag in Shelby, Nebraska.   The morning agenda includes an update of Nebraska Corn Growers Association research and programs pertaining to soil health. Participants will also hear from Dr. Nicholas Goeser, NCGA manager for Soil Health and Sustainability, on productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes related to soil health on your farm. Quentin Cooksley of Hagie Manufacturing Company will present on seeding technologies for cover crops, followed by Mike Zwingmen, Central Valley Ag’s Lead Analyst of Agronomy Research, speaking on their programming and research efforts in soil health.   The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CT, regardless of weather conditions. Registration will occur on-site beginning at 8:30 a.m., and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be served to...

(Posted Thu. Sep 25th, 2014)

Keywords: Sustainability Conservation

National Corn Growers Association Corn Board member Paul Taylor, a farmer from Esmond, Ill., participated in the inaugural meeting of the Global Alliance for Climate-Smart Agriculture. The meeting brought together partners of the alliance to discuss the organization of the alliance in its inception year and a program of work.   The meeting followed the official launch of the alliance on Tuesday at the United Nations Secretary General’s Climate Summit.   “With increasing public focus turning to the climate, farmers must take a seat at the table to ensure our interests and concerns on this topic are accurately represented,” said Taylor. “American corn farmers have a dynamic story of constant improvement to share. We have a long history of finding innovative ways to meet ever-evolving challenges and activities such as this help us engage in a productive dialogue about this issue.”   As currently established, Global Alliance for CSA members recognize the urgent need to act at...

(Posted Fri. Aug 29th, 2014)

Keywords: Sustainability

Growers looking for insight in improving soil health are invited to the Soil Health Partnership’s first Demonstration Farm Field Day, to be held Wednesday, Sept. 10, near Lu Verne, Iowa.   Featured topics include cover crop integration in corn systems, the benefits of soil health and advanced nutrient management, and hands-on field demonstrations with new equipment for seeding cover crops.   The event runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with breakfast and lunch provided, and will be held regardless of weather conditions. The location is 1506 190th Ave., north of Lu Verne and southeast of Algona, Iowa.   The next field day events are scheduled for Sept. 15 and 16, in Forrest and Decatur, Illinois.   The mission of the Soil Health Partnership is to catalyze enhanced agricultural sustainability and productivity by demonstrating and communicating the economic and environmental benefits of improved soil health. For more information, visit or e-mail

(Posted Wed. Dec 18th, 2013)

Keywords: Water Sustainability Regulations

Dec. 17: This week, the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency convened a Scientific Advisory Board to conduct a peer review of the Water Body Connectivity Report draft released by that agency in September. The panel, which includes a broad variety of independent scientific experts, is assessing the scientific validity of that report, upon which the agency will base their rule defining Waters of the United States. This rule seeks to expand EPA’s regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The review, which began on Monday, has thus far proceeded in a constructive yet inquisitive manner that the National Corn Growers Association hopes will lead to findings that positively impact the final rule.   “While the debate going on in Washington may seem academic and ephemeral, it will have real-world implications for farmers in their fields,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair Don Glenn, who farms in Alabama. “Farmers take their responsibility to care for natural...

(Posted Fri. Dec 6th, 2013)

Keywords: Sustainability

Dec. 6:  The National Corn Growers Association announces the creation of the Good Steward Recognition Program to expand awareness of best practices in sustainable corn production. The focus of the program will be to demonstrate the economic and conservation value of soil management.   “Success stories abound in agriculture in the areas of precision application and timing of inputs, improved seeds and large advancements in tillage and other practices, “said Don Glenn, chairman of NCGA’s Production and Stewardship Action Team Chair. “However, some of these successes remain untold, and this program will help deliver the message loud and clear. “   To increase attention to the sound science behind sustainable yield growth, NCGA wants to tell the story of an innovative grower who demonstrates that there is no trade-off between production and stewardship. One award recipient will be selected from a field of nominees submitted by NCGA state affiliates and other corn industry and...

(Posted Thu. Aug 15th, 2013)

Keywords: Sustainability Field to Market

Aug. 15: The Field to Market alliance is preparing to release a water quality metric to its Fieldprint Calculator. This update includes the integration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Water Quality Index and can help growers better understand how their farming systems and practices affect the quality of water flowing off their fields.    “The time, landscape and community in which farmers grow their crops, along with their management decisions and skills regarding inputs and production practices, all play a part in the profitability of a farming operation,” said Keith Alverson, NCGA’s board representative to Field to Market. “No farmer wants to leave dollars on the field, and the water quality metric in the Fieldprint Calculator will help determine if we are boosting yields enough to cover things like extra fertilizer costs or soil loss. While profitability is import, longevity is a greater priority.”   NCGA is involved in...