SHI’s action plan has goal of making soil health ‘cornerstone’ of natural resources policy

By Whitney Forman-Cook

The Soil Health Institute unveiled its soil health action plan aimed at “driving advancements” in soil conservation nationwide this morning from the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Among the plan’s goals is to make soil health “the cornerstone of natural resource management policies throughout the nation.”

“Today’s announcement, and the panel presentations and discussion that followed, demonstrated the immensity of the task ahead in conserving and promoting healthy soils,” said Rich Duesterhaus, NACD director of projects and partnerships. “The importance of soil resources to all American citizens and the rest of the world is too great to ignore. NACD is proud to be a part of SHI’s work to promote soil health, and looks forward to partnering with it, and the many other organizations dedicated to improving soil health, for many years to come.”

The plan released today lays out a series of goals for its action teams (or committees) to tackle. Beth Mason, NACD’s North Central Region representative and Soil Health Champions Network lead, serves as co-chair on the group’s Communications and Education Action Team alongside Ron Nichols, soil health communications coordinator for NRCS.

Each of SHI’s goals fall under a general category. For instance, under “Research,” SHI proposes to enhance agricultural productivity and resilience through improved soil health by optimizing soils’ water holding capacity, water infiltration, and plant nutrient availability, and suppressing soil-borne diseases through soil health management systems. Its second research goal aims to quantify the environmental and human health benefits that result from improved soil health.

The group has also set out to determine how best to design and conduct large-scale soil health assessments, such as a National Soil Health Assessment. Other goals included quantifying the economic risks and benefits of using soil health management systems.

SHI is a Noble Research Institute project four years in the making. Today, SHI’s partners include the Tri-Societies, Datu Research, USDA, the Conservation Technology Information Center, Field to Market, General Mills, and NACD. NACD Past President Earl Garber serves on the group’s board of directors.

To learn more about SHI, visit soilhealthinstitute.org, and consider attending SHI’s second annual meeting in St. Louis from July 12 to 14 – right before NACD’s summer meeting kicks off on July 15.

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