What happens under your soil has a great deal to do with what happens above it. A major long term grant will help foster more research into soil health farming practices. At the National Cover Crops and Soil Health conference held in Indianapolis recently, several organizations came together to award a multimillion dollar grant to do more research on soil health. Dr. Sally Rockey, Executive Director of Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, says the lack of standards is holding back progress on soil health, “To make advances in soil health management, we really have to have a baseline and standards of measurement.” FFAR will invest $9.3 million in the project and is are grateful that this grant will be matched by funding from 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 for a total investment of nearly $20 million.
Dr. Rockey says one of the goals is to come up with best practices that farmers can use to improve the health of their soil, “So we are doing on farm research that will allow us to look at different cropping systems, soil types, and different environments.” The goal of this project is to support collaborative research and education that accelerates adoption and benefits of soil health management systems nationally. “If we can unlock the potential of healthy soil, we can move closer to a sustainable agricultural system for everyone,” said Rockey. “The needs for advancing soil health are far greater than any single organization can provide – public or private,” said Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “That’s why this project is so important. It leverages public funds authorized by Congress with resources provided by other foundations and corporations through the combined capacities of the Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership, and The Nature Conservancy.”
This is a national project, but Dr. Rockey says the focus will be on the Midwest, “We are looking to greatly increase the number of acres on which soil health management takes place.” “With a shared commitment to science and the improved soil health and productivity of America’s farmlands, we are pleased to be part of this collaboration,” said Larry Clemens, director of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Agriculture Program. Non-farm land owners will also be targeted by the program which hopes to also improve the health of soils not involved in production agriculture.