Nearly 200 See Power of Soil Health on Display at MSHS
The 2016 Midwest Soil Health Summit was farmer networking at its best – the nearly 200 in attendance had the chance to talk one-on-one with some of the world’s leading experts on soil health.
Both informational and inspirational, the presentations from Dr. Allen Williams, Jerry Doan, Kent Solberg, Gabe Brown, Dr. Wendy Taheri, Dr. Michael Lehman, John Mesko and Ian Cunningham prove that soil health not only has the potential to transform agriculture in this country, it has both the potential to transform it soon and to provide immense benefit to farmers who use these methods.
The importance of a farmer network like SFA was clear when examples were given that both Dr. Allen Williams and Gabe Brown – two incredibly innovative, successful farmers – have neighbors who still refuse to adopt soil building farm practices. When world-famous farmers like these still face skepticism, it’s no wonder SFA members see the value of networking with others in their area for camaraderie and wisdom.
As reported in a timely University of Minnesota report, the average wind erosion rate in Minnesota is 5.2 tons of soil loss per acre per year. A few days after the 2015 Soil Health Summit, SFA’s Kent Solberg reported this dismal account: “On a trip this afternoon I noticed a faint haze in the sky. I have seen it in years past. It was like dispersed smoke, but without a definable source (as when there is a house or brush pile on fire). It was brown, not gray or black. This brown haze was blowing topsoil.”
The good news is that the situation, while dire, is not irreversible. Anyone who attended the Summit can attest that building soil gives farmers increased tools for profitability, environmental stewardship and dealing with extreme weather. For more, watch the short film by Peter Byck below, “Soil Carbon Cowboys,” featuring Allen, Gabe and Neil Dennis.
We thank all who attended the 2015 Soil Health Summit and everyone who is committed to building a better soil health climate on our precious farmland. The Summit will return in 2016, and we will publish details as they are available on this webpage.
- Click here to read about 2014-15 MSHS keynote Gabe Brown in the New York Times.
2015 MSHS Resources
Click here to download Dr. Allen Williams’ presentation from the 2015 MSHS.
Click here to download Kent Solberg’s presentation.
New in 2015 was the MSHS International Roundtable, notes from which are available here. If you are an internationally focused farmer, researcher, expert or other person involved in international farm issues and wish to learn more about the 2016 Roundtable, email SFA Executive Director John Mesko.
Videos Featuring 2015 MSHS Presenters
Soil Health Information
From NRCS, this video, “The Science of Soil Health: Without Carrot or Stick” is a short interview with Penn State researcher Dr. Sjoerd Duiker that details how dairy farmers in his state are using cover crops to improve their business – without regulations or subsidies. Watch it here.
From Practical Farmers of Iowa, this article: “New research by a multi-state team of agronomists working with the Midwest Cover Crops Council (MCCC) suggests that up to 19 million acres of corn and soybean ground in the upper Mississippi River Basin has the potential to incorporate cover crops, which would decrease nitrogen entering the Gulf of Mexico by up to 400 million pounds.”
Past Midwest Soil Health Summit recaps
Shifting the focus of agriculture from maximum yields to maximum soil health quality is critical to the sustainability of agriculture in Minnesota, the Upper Midwest, the United States and globally. SFA is committed to continued soil health programming, including programs addressing the integration of cover crops, row crops and livestock grazing. We will continue the pursuit of funding and programs that foster the development of soil health building practices for the long term.