Posted on February 11, 2016 at 10:56 AM by Iowa Corn
Soil Health Summit Kicks Off Third Year of Program to Quantify Benefits of Healthy Soil
The Soil Health Partnership held its third annual Soil Health Summit in Indianapolis Jan. 21-22, hosting more than 140 attendees. They included farmers, agriculture industry leaders, environmental groups and university representatives.
As the partnership embarks on its third year, the organization has high hopes for network expansion and ground-breaking soil data results that will contribute to progressive changes in farming.
“Economics are key to changing practices on the farm – we’ve heard that again and again,” Nick Goeser, SHP director, told attendees. “Although early in our data collection process, we’re in this for the long haul. We continue to improve data collection and our analytics process. We are also working on how we will put that research in your hands. Our research means nothing if it isn’t published to be used by our farmers and beyond.”
Demonstration farmers in the program collect data with the help of field managers and their agronomists in practices like cover crops, nutrient management and conservation tillage. The organization hopes to increase the number of demonstration farms enrolled to 60 this year.
“Our operation is proud to be involved with the Soil Health Partnership,” said Iowa Corn Promotion Board President Mark Heckman, a farmer from West Liberty. “It’s a good program that provides actual data points that enable us to verify what we think is happening as a result of our conservation practices. After a five-year period, we’ll be able to look at the data collected and determine the actual impact of our methods. Then we’ll be able to refine our approach.”
The partnership is a data-driven initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, with support from Monsanto and the Walton Family Foundation, as well as technical support from The Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defense Fund.
“These farmers are pioneers and innovators,” said Chris Novak, NCGA CEO, during the summit’s closing address. “They are taking risks to build data that prove soil health improvements mean economic benefits from better yields, and environmental risk mitigation. We thank them for their leadership.”