To celebrate World Soil Day, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced a project that will accelerate the adoption of soil health practices on farms by creating standardized measurements that show the benefits of soil health management.
The Nature Conservancy, Soil Health Institute and Soil Health Partnership received a $9.4 million grant from FFAR and matching funds from a number of companies and private donors. With the $20 million in funding, the collaborative project will create an evaluation system for soil health management practices while expanding education and tools for local farmers, agronomists and landowners.
The Soil Health Institute will develop and test soil health measurements, while the Soil Health Partnership, which works with corn growers in Minnesota and beyond to improve soil health, will implement and evaluate soil health promoting practices on working farms. The Nature Conservancy will work with landowners to encourage use of science-based soil health practices.
The three-pronged approach will lead to greater adoption of soil health promoting practices by providing measurements that show their benefit to productivity, farmer livelihoods and the environment.
“American agriculture has made extraordinary strides in technology and productivity in this century, but the next frontier is in soil health,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership. “This grant represents one of the largest investments ever made in soil health, one of the best tools we have to optimize productivity while minimizing environmental impact.”
Goeser said the project will produce hard numbers that show the economic and environmental benefit of practices like cover crops, reduced tillage and advanced nutrient management.
Companies who matched the FFAR grant include General Mills, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and individual donors.