An innovative workshop on climate-smart agriculture in late October emphasized soil health as a key element in carbon sequestration efforts. Several powerhouse organizations and companies hosted the one-of-a-kind event in St. Louis, called “C-Quest: Charting a Course for Climate Research in Agriculture.” It featured the Soil Health Partnership as a leader in helping farmers adopt progressive practices.
The ILSI Research Foundation, together with Monsanto Co., Soil Health Partnership, Washington University in St. Louis, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Howard G. Buffett Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture, organized the Oct. 24-25 event. It focused on developing research targets for agricultural goals that:
• support achievement of USDA’s “building blocks” for climate-smart agriculture
• integrate existing U.S. Midwest field research networks (like SHP) for climate adaptation
• develop a research agenda to achieve a “carbon-neutral” agri-food system in the U.S. through a focus • on soil carbon and soil health, including validation of soil carbon protocols
The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Association established in 2014. SHP Director Nick Goeser presented at the event, and NCGA CEO Chris Novak also spoke to attendees.
“It’s exciting to see agricultural improvements that impact soil health recognized as an emerging opportunity to optimize productivity, sequester carbon and improve protection of our natural resources, like water,” Goeser said. “We’re honored to participate in this discussion, and to see farmers recognized whole-heartedly as a part of the solution.”
With more than 65 farm sites already enrolled in nine Midwestern states, the SHP is a leader in field-scale testing and measuring of management practices that improve soil health. These practices include:
• growing cover crops to prevent erosion and nutrient losses
• implementing conservation tillage like no-till or strip till
• using advanced, science-based nutrient management techniques to reduce nutrient loss
SHP’s vision is advanced by initial and continuing funding from Monsanto, Walton Family Foundation, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, NCGA and USDA. These early supporters helped form SHP’s operating and data-collection structure, while recognizing common goals.
The Soil Health Partnership brings together diverse partner organizations including commodity groups, federal agencies, universities and environmental groups to work toward the common goal of improving soil health. Over a period of at least 10 years, SHP will identify, test and measure farm management practices that improve soil health and benefit farmers. SHP believes the results of this farmer-led project will provide a platform for sharing peer-to-peer information, and lend resources to benefit agricultural sustainability and profitability. An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, SHP intends to provide the spark for greater understanding and implementation of agricultural best practices to protect resources for future generations.
Source: Soil Health Partnership