A new grant will support research and education that accelerate adoption of soil health practices on farms nationwide, benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment alike. The Soil Health Partnership, an initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, is one of three recipients of the grant and matching funds, which total nearly $20 million – one of the largest ever public/private investments in soil health.
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a nonprofit established through bipartisan support in the 2014 Farm Bill, announced a $9.4 million grant on Dec. 5 – World Soil Day. The recipients are the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership and The Nature Conservancy. It will be matched by General Mills, Grantham Trust, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative, Monsanto, Nestlé Purina PetCare Company, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Walmart Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and individual donors for the total investment of nearly $20 million.
Soil health is a critical component of a productive and sustainable agricultural system. Farming practices that improve soil health can increase profitability while protecting natural resources like air and water for communities.
“We’re pleased to harness the power of collaboration by supporting three leading organizations in this space for the long-term benefit of our nation’s farmers and food system,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR.
Collaborators will take an integrated, three-pronged approach. The Soil Health Institute will develop and test soil health measurements; the Soil Health Partnership will implement and evaluate soil health-promoting practices on working farms; and The Nature Conservancy will work with non-operator landowners to encourage use of science-based soil health practices. The partners believe significant engagement with farmers and landowners will catalyze greater adoption of soil health-promoting practices that benefit 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 SHP and director of soil health and sustainability for NCGA. “Soil health is one of the best tools we have to optimize productivity while minimizing environmental impact. This grant will allow us to expand our program to include more farmers who want to benefit from our body of work analyzing how practices like growing cover crops, reducing tillage and using advanced nutrient management can help family farms survive and thrive.”
FFAR is supporting this collaborative project through its Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area, which aims to increase soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or novel practices that improve soil health.