When farmers are on the fence about incorporating soil health practices into their management decisions, they do the research. To help, the Soil Health Institute today released its comprehensive strategy for enhancing soil health at the fourth annual Meeting of the Soil Health Institute in Sacramento, California.
An abundance of research shows that practices designed to improve soil health also reduce nutrient loss to waterways, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon sequestration, increase biodiversity, and provide many other benefits.
“To achieve such goals at scale, we must provide our land managers, primarily farmers and ranchers, with the information they need when deciding whether to adopt soil health-promoting practices,” said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, CEO of the Soil Health Institute. “That means a key component of our strategy is to assess the impacts of soil health adoption on profitability and economic risk. Another is to identify the most effective measurements for soil health because farmers cannot be expected to manage what they cannot measure. We then need to provide workshops on locally-relevant management practices proven by other farmers to work for them,” Honeycutt says. In addition, Honeycutt described how information must be supported by a strong research and development program that producers, policy analysts, and society can trust.
“Once adoption is achieved, the work does not end there,” Honeycutt adds. “It is important that we assess the impacts of adoption on productivity and profitability because that supports the business case. We also need to quantify effects on the environment because this supports well-informed policies and provides the evidence needed for educating consumers about the environmental benefits of soil health systems. Such information can help create more market demand for food and fiber grown using soil health practices so that the entire system becomes self-sustaining and does not depend on government assistance.”
The Soil Health Institute’s strategy is summarized in a short video, provided here.