NACD created the Soil Health Champions Network in 2015 to promote soil health education and outreach among American farmers, ranchers, and forestland owners. Today, the Network is comprised of more than 200 landowners and operators who are implementing conservation practices on their land and championing the benefits of soil health within their communities. Soil Health Champions have working relationships with their local conservation districts and USDA service centers, and are often community leaders and early adopters of conservation practices. Do you know a Soil Health Champion?
Soil Health Champions have two responsibilities to the Network:
- Conduct soil health outreach in their communities. Forms of outreach include holding farm tours, hosting field demonstrations, speaking at conferences and meetings, giving media interviews, presenting at seminars or workshops, and manning educational booths at community events.
- Report on their outreach activities to NACD. NACD collects and utilizes Soil Health Champion research, stories and testimonials on NACD’s website and in national publications. NACD also rounds up information on Soil Health Champion events and outreach and shares it through social media, on its website and in a quarterly bulletin. By engaging in this network, NACD is able to amplify the voices of conservation-minded producers on a national platform.
- Membership in an exclusive Network where they can exchange best management practices, tell success stories, and learn how to make improvements in their own operations. NACD believes this network will play a key role in driving a countrywide movement to improve America’s soils.
- A quarterly, soil health bulletin with Network news and relevant conservation research and outreach opportunities.
- National recognition for their work to advance soil health in the first eResource of every month and in every edition of The Resource. The association also features soil champs on our website (click on the map below to meet our current Soil Health Champions) and showcases their achievements at NACD meetings and events.
In support of the Network, NACD holds educational conference calls, provides technical and promotional resources, and offers scholarships to Champions to attend topical meetings. NACD also manages an exclusive Facebook group in which members can share pictures, videos, articles and updates on their extraordinary work to improve America’s soils.
Soil Health Champions
Soil Health Champions Overlay
Palau Soil Champs Map
Guam Soil Champs Map
American Samoa Soil Champs Map
Puerto Rico Soil Champs Map
Northern Mariana Islands Soil Champs Map
Federated States of Micronesia Soil Champs Map
Virgin Islands Soil Champs
Soil Health Research
NACD and Datu Research released four case studies detailing the economic benefits of using cover crops and/or no-till on corn and soybean operations. Click here to learn more about this research and the farmers who made it possible and click here to watch a webinar about the case studies.
Soil Health Champion Network Webinars
This presentation reviews nutrient cycling and discusses how soil health is carbon-centric. This webinar covers the carbon cycle and carbon nitrogen ratios. Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts Soil Health Specialist Mike Hubbs covers Haney and PLFA tests as tools to assess soil health. Hubbs also explains why soil test factors are important to functioning soils.
Changing behavior is hard. Unfortunately, it is not as simple as relaying data and facts. Good news is there are simple tactics you can use to reach beyond innovators and “the choir”. This presentation will provide strategies based on real world examples and how to relate them to your work.
Speaker: Jessica Espenshade, coordinator for the National Agriculture Program at the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)
Using Soil Health Principles to Improve Lake Erie Water Quality
James J. Hoorman, NRCS Soil Health Specialist
Agricultural tillage has contributed to a broken Carbon-Nitrogen-Phosphorus (C-N-P) cycle and a damaged water cycle. Tillage is a destructive practice that burns up SOM, decreases effective nutrient recycling, and reduces aggregate stability and water infiltration. The NRCS Soil Health Division is promoting four major core soil health principles: 1) Maximize surface cover 2) Minimize soil disturbance, 3) Maximize live roots, and 4) Increase Biodiversity. As an example, the four core soil health principles will be used to address the Lake Erie P issue to demonstrate how to restore the C-N-P and water cycles, restore our soils, and improve Lake Erie water quality.
Jim Hoorman is the new NRCS Soil Health Specialist for Ohio and Michigan. Jim was an assistant professor and extension educator for Ohio State University Extension for 25 years specializing in soil health, cover crops, nutrient recycling and water quality. Jim has worked with cover crops and no-till for over 15 years promoting soil health principles throughout the USA and the world.
Understanding Soil Health in Organic Production Systems
Dr. Erin Silva from the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Soil health and soil stewardship have comprised the foundation of organic agriculture since its inception. While some aspects of organic management create challenges in the maintenance of soil health, other management principles integrated into the National Organic Standards help to create an environment optimizing the physical, chemical and biological health of the soil. This presentation will summarize an overview of the data related to soil health indicators in organic systems, as well as identify practices that help build soil health while farming organically.
Learn how the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) spearheaded the formation of the Delaware Soil Health Partnership, a collaborative effort to offer workshops and field days throughout the year to help farmers develop their own farm-specific strategies. SCD shares what has worked for their district and their farmers, including event logistics, choosing topics and speakers, finding funding, and working with multiple organizations. As a result of these efforts, 85 percent of farmers surveyed at recent soil health outreach events in Delaware say that they have made management changes to improve their soil health! Want a preview? Look for the hashtag #wedighealthysoils on Facebook. View this document to review the Delaware Soil Health Checklist and this document to review the Delaware Soil Health Evaluation Form.
Noble Research Institute Soils and Crops Consultant Jim Johnson discusses definitions of cover crops, keys to using cover crops for grazing, and how to create a cover crop mix for grazing. Johnson also shares some experiences of producers who have been grazing cover crops in the Southern Great Plains and how many of their principles can be applied universally.
Learn from Green Cover Seed Founder and NACD Soil Health Champion from Nebraska Keith Berns about the wonderfully complex economy that plants, soils and biology engage in every day. Utilizing carbon as the currency, learn how plants interact with soil microorganisms to “buy” and “sell” services and nutrients and learn how to wean your farm off of agricultural welfare!
Presented by USDA NRCS West Regional Soil Health Team Leader Jennifer Moore-Kucera. Soil microbes play a direct role in driving multiple soil chemical and physical processes important for overall ecosystem function, but also have direct and indirect effects on plant productivity and quality. Thus, soil conservation and regeneration should focus not only plant nutrient status and erosion control but also on the status of the soil biological community, its function and overall soil health. The goals of this presentation are: 1) to highlight how soil organisms are involved in all aspects of soil function important for agriculture; 2) introduce biological ‘hot spots’ where soil life is active and the key players associated with these hot spots; and 3) how to maximize these biological hot spots through management practices that follow the four soil health principles. By shifting our view of soils from an inert growing material to a biologically diverse and active ecosystem, we can help create more sustainable farms, ranches and forests to provide the food and fiber for our rapidly growing population while protecting land, air and water resources for future generations.
Join the Xerces Society to learn about the diversity of invertebrate organisms that live beneath the soil surface and the important roles these organisms play in soil health. They will also overview farm and land management practices (e.g. reduced tillage, cover cropping, beetle banks, permanent plantings, etc.) that support these important invertebrates.
Presented by Jeff Goodwin, Pasture and Range Consultant for the Noble Research Institute.
Presented by Thelma Heidel-Baker, Ph.D, the Conservation Biocontrol Specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Mace Vaughan, Pollinator Conservation Program Co-Director for the Xerces Society; a Partner Biologist and Pollinator Conservation Specialist with the USDA NRCS West National Technology Support Center in Portland, Oregon.
This webinar gives an overview of how practices that benefit soil health (e.g. cover cropping, field borders and other permanent plantings, reduced tillage, etc.) also benefit the insect/invertebrates that provide pest management services.
On-farm case studies conducted by NACD and Datu Research have found corn and soybean farmers who use cover crops and/or no-till can improve their bottom lines by over $100 per acre. You can read about the economic and soil health benefits of using these conservation practices by clicking here, or click here to read more of the report overview. To request a copy of the parent report, contact Beth Mason. NACD hosted a webinar in September with Datu Research’s CEO Marcy Lowe and case study participant Michael Willis reviewing the research conclusions; you can access a recording of the webinar at the title link above.
Through RSET, NRCS has integrated the best attributes of many of its resource evaluation tools into one modern way of planning. RSET gives producers a holistic look at their agricultural operation’s current management and conservation activities by comparing an operation’s attributes and activities to stewardship benchmarks for five natural resource concerns: soil management, water quality, water quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat. Then, RSET provides the results of the evaluation in an easy-to-read bar graph that shows how a producer’s management decisions affect the natural resources under his or her care. Click here to access a special edition of the Soil Health Champions Network bulletin on RSET.
Soil Health Champion Network Bulletins
|Summer 2015||Fall 2015||Winter 2015||Spring 2016||Summer 2016|
|Fall 2016||Winter 2016||Spring 2017||Summer 2017||RSET Special Edition|
|Fall 2017||Spring 2018||Summer 2018||Fall 2018||Spring 2019|
Would you or someone you know like to be a part of our Soil Health Champions Network? Contact NACD North Central Region Representative Beth Mason at beth-mason[at]nacdnet.org or (317)-946-4463. We also invite our members and partners to print and disseminate our Soil Health Champions Network one-pager.