Goals and strategies for advancing soil health were announced with the release of the Soil Renaissance Strategic Plan during the World Congress of Conservation Agriculture in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
“This Strategic Plan is a starting point that will evolve and expand as work is completed, new challenges are identified and more individuals and groups join the Soil Renaissance,” said Neil Conklin, President of Farm Foundation, NFP. Farm Foundation and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation are leading the Soil Renaissance but collaboration among diverse stakeholders will be key to its success.
“For the Soil Renaissance to meet its full potential, it will require multiple individuals and organizations,” says Noble Foundation President and CEO Bill Buckner. “Many groups already are working in specific areas of soil health. The Soil Renaissance is a central hub through which people can learn what’s now being done, gaps to be filled and ways they can help.”
The first task of the Soil Renaissance team was to agree on a definition of soil health. After lengthy discussion, the team adopted the definition used by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS): The continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans.
The Strategic Planning Team has identified goals in each of the four key work areas:
– Measurement: To incorporate soil health measures into standardized soil testing that is readily available, affordable and commercial viable.
– Economics: To quantify the effects of soil health on economic risks and returns.
– Education: To reawaken the public to the importance of soil health.
– Research: To convene the research community to advance soil health.