The Soil Health Partnership has hired Shefali Mehta, an agricultural and environmental economist, as its new executive director. Mehta takes over the long-term data intiative that measures and quantifies the impact of farm management practices known to promote healthy soils at a paramount time in the organization’s growth.
“I was drawn to the data component of this effort because I strongly believe using data fully and thoughtfully allows us to make better decisions,” Mehta said. “It often leads us to solutions and outcomes we may not expect. Data is a powerful tool for bringing diverse groups together—it helps us cast aside emotion and focus on our common objectives.”
Mehta’s first priority is to ensure that farmers get the full potential of the data collected so far. In the immediate months, the Soil Health Partnership will analyze this data and begin sharing those insights with farmers.
The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative of the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA). The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) supports the Soil Health Partnership to run on-farm soil health trials across the state. Four Minnesota farmers currently participate in the trials with two additional sites also funded by MCGA to be initiated this fall.
Mehta received her doctorate in agricultural and applied economics and a master’s degree in statistics from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a master of philosophy in economics from Cambridge University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University.
Mehta is currently the co-founder and CEO of an agricultural technology start-up, Ceres Wave, and also founded and leads Open Rivers Consulting Associates. She’s held prior roles at organizations including McKinsey and Company, Syngenta and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education.
Mehta fills the position after Nick Goeser’s promotion to NCGA Vice President of Production and Sustainability earlier this year. She resides in the Washington, D.C. region.