Soil Health Summit seeks to enhance farming's future

The Soil Health Partnership hopes to enroll 60 demonstration farmers in 2016.
The Soil Health Partnership hopes to enroll 60 demonstration farmers in 2016. | File photo

Farmers, agriculture industry leaders, environmental groups and university representatives came together at the end of January for the third annual Soil Health Summit to discuss how the future of the Soil Health Partnership’s (SHP) groundbreaking work will change farming.

“It’s very striking to me that the agricultural community is awakening to the positive impact soil health can have on the environment, crop yields and farm economics,” SHP Director Nick Goeser said. “Our annual Soil Health Summit brings progressive leaders together to learn about the research, innovations and technology taking place in the realm of soil health.”

A key goal for the Partnership in 2016 is to enroll 60 demonstration farmers. Demonstration farmers work with field managers and agronomists to collect soil data for research in cover crops, nutrient management and conservation tillage.

“Economics are key to changing practices on the farm – we’ve heard that again and again,” Goeser said at the summit. “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.”

The summit included presentations and interactive sessions giving participants the chance to share their thoughts on SHP.

“These farmers are pioneers and innovators,” National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak said 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.”

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