August Newsletter

August  24, 2017

From the Operations Manager:

Summer Fun!




Jack CornellSHP Operations ManagerIt’s been a great summer, and I’m not just talking about barbecues and fireworks! I have enjoyed my first summer with the Soil Health Partnership, having a chance to interact with SHP farmers and collaborators. I want to thank all our growers and collaborators who came out or contributed to our Summer Research Meetings. We had extremely well-attended summer meetings in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, and Missouri, along with a strong start to field day season across the entire Midwest!


Your quest for knowledge is what helps drive these meetings, where we presented preliminary data on chemical, biological, and physical soil health indicators. This is the first time in the program we could get a real look at comparisons between our treated and non-treated strips.


I look forward to this the next round of harvest data and the following soil sampling data that will exponentially increase our data set to help answer your questions.


These summer events produced a lot of great feedback on improvements to the Soil Health Partnership to make it work better for our growers. One example is to create an online forum for our growers to collaborate and share ideas with each other, an idea we also like and will explore.


I wish you all a successful and safe harvest season.





Attendees see soil health in action at John Maxwell’s field day in Donahue, Iowa


Field Days are Underway!

Field days are in full swing, with more still to come! The Soil Health Partnership has hosted or participated in 17 field days in with almost 800 attendees so far!


[Watch this video about Roger Zlystra’s field day and farm]


At SHP, we talk frequently about the importance of the research underway at our 100 partner farm sites. Equally as important is the opportunity to share what we are learning with other producers so they can adopt soil-saving and soil-building strategies on their own farms. This farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing takes place at these field days. It also gives us insights into challenges faced by new adopters and the successes that are happening across the Midwest.


Help us spread the word! If you’re on social media, share our soil health events with your followers and friends. For a complete list—updated regularly—of our field days, visit our website.




Soil Health Partnership, NCGA Endorse New List of Soil Health Measurements


The Soil Health Partnership has endorsed a set of 19 soil health measurements, encouraging the agriculture industry to quickly adopt them. Once widely adopted, the indicators are expected to help farming become more sustainable and precise in areas such nutrient management. Examples include organic carbon, pH, and available water holding capacity. The entire list is available on the Soil Health Institute’s website.


Read more





<< Adoption of indicators could make farming more sustainable and precise.


SHP Encouraging Farmers to

“Cover Some Ground”

Our SHP farmers already know now is the time to make preparations for cover crops for this fall and winter. We’re encouraging other farmers to consider using cover crops by reminding them it isn’t too late for this season!


“If you have been on the fence about cover crops, you still have time this year to try it! Late July through August is the time to buy cover crop seed and get the seeding method lined up,” said Elyssa McFarland, Eastern Iowa SHP field manager. “You don’t have to cover your entire farm. Just start small in an area that you feel your soils could be most improved. Have a goal!”


Watch video about Dave Moose, cover crop adopter in Auburn, Ill.


SHP in the News –

Mark Mueller Op Ed


A special shout-out to SHP farmer Mark Mueller of Waverly, Iowa. He took the initiative to respond to a negative academic opinion editorial in Iowa, and it was published in at least three Iowa newspapers.


“Kamyar Enshayan raises good questions in his editorial on Iowa’s land and water quality.  Speaking as a farmer using no-till practices and growing cover crops, I believe some of his points are valid.  I grew up on a farm that raised four crops as well as livestock.
Mr. Enshayan would like us to return to that era but, unfortunately, he ignores the very reasons farmers left it in the first place.”


Read more






EDF Hosts Ag Collaboration Events in St. Louis, Des Moines


Environmental Defense Fund is hosting two events in the Corn Belt this month to celebrate and discuss opportunities for collaborations among farmers, food and agriculture companies, policymakers, the public, and other ag stakeholders. EDF and its ag partners are eager to bring together food and farming leaders to discuss how working in partnership is the most effective way to support conservation and farm resiliency. Both events include a sneak preview of the Discovery Channel’s forthcoming Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman documentary. The first event took place Aug. 22 in St. Louis with NCGA’s Chris Novak speaking.


The next event is on Monday, August 28th, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. The event is free (and includes entry to the botanical garden), but RSVPs are required.

SHP Director Nick Goeser leads a breakout session during the 2017 summit

Save the Date!

Soil Health Summit • January 18-19, 2018

Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel • Rosemont, Illinois


The Midwest may have roasted under record heat this summer, but you can put something cool on your calendar for January. Join us for another enlightening Soil Health Summit, January 18-20, 2018 at the beautiful Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois.


We’ve taken your feedback, and will be delivering even more returns for your time investment at this annual event—more data. More education. More opportunities to share and learn with others about the value of soil health. Registration and more information coming soon! Until then, check out these highlights from the 2017 summit.

Spreading the Word—with the Brownfield Network


Across Iowa, Indiana and Nebraska, tune into the Brownfield network and you may hear a familiar name! The Soil Health Partnership is working with Brownfield Ag News network to spread the word about field days and soil health the best way we know how—with the real-life experiences of our farmer-partners and our expert SHP field managers. Spots will air through September and the full interviews are available as podcasts here.


Tom Steever, a long-time respected voice for American agriculture, is conducting most of the interviews with farmers and field managers. You may have seen Tom doing interviews at our 2017 Soil Health Summit as well. Tom was born and raised on his family’s farm in South Dakota, and has been with the Brownfield Network since 2003, after a
career of working Brownfield Ag News Broadcaster Tom Steever interviews IllinoisSHP farmer Kirk Kimble during the 2017 Soil Health Summitin ag radio and public relations.

Hans Kok, SHP field manager for Ohio and Indiana Meet SHP Field Manager Hans Kok


What could motivate a native of the Netherlands to settle in the U.S. more than 4,000 miles from home?


“I came from the Netherlands as an agricultural exchange student, fell in love with the U.S. and its people,” says Indiana and Ohio Field Manager Hans Kok. “I just never left and have been working in agriculture ever since.”


Starting with research on erosion control in Israel, Spain and Washington State, Hans gradually moved his work toward helping farmers to maintain and improve their soil health by changing farming practices while maintaining profitability.


Hans was an associate professor at both Washington State University and the University of Idaho, covering Extension programming for conservation tillage and bioenergy for both Idaho and Washington. Prior to that, he served as the state extension specialist for soil and water conservation for Kansas State University, and he worked as a conservation tillage specialist for Monsanto.


Receiving his Bachelors and Masters in Science degrees from the Agricultural University in The Netherlands, he earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural Engineering from the University of Idaho. He has published more than 30 extension publications, several articles in scientific journals and received numerous professional awards.


“I am excited about the opportunity farmers have to not just save their soils from compaction and erosion by wind and water, but also how to build their soils into a better, money-making resource, all while protecting the environment,” said Hans.


That’s some powerful motivation to move halfway around the world! Learn more about all of our field managers and meet the entire SHP staff by visiting the SHP website.

In Memory of Craig Goeser


Our condolences to SHP director Nick Goeser, and the Goeser family, on the loss of Nick’s father, Craig. A donation page has been set up for Sheboygan River Progressive Farmers in honor of Craig, the founding president:





We're very social...

The Soil Health Partnership regularly sends out news and information about the partnership through social media. We post articles and links related to cover crops, nutrient management, tillage practices and overall soil health! It’s a great way to stay connected. If you have a great picture showing your cover crops, tillage practices, or field day, please tag the partnership!







An NCGA Initiative

Support from


Natural Resources Conservation Service

United Soybean Board

The Walton Family Foundation

Midwest Row Crop Collaborative


With Technical Support From

The Environmental Defense Fund

The Nature Conservancy