April Newsletter

April 6, 2017

From the Director:

Who is ready for the growing season!




Nick Goeser, Ph.D.

Director, Soil Health Partnership

After the warm February, March and April have taken their time to warm up and dry out across most of the Midwest. We have been moving quickly behind the scenes for another exciting growing season in 2017.


Our last newsletter mentioned expansion plans – and now they are official! The Soil Health Partnership has well over 100 farmers enrolled in the program.  An expanded network means better coverage and better results for everyone involved, especially our farmers. The effort and enthusiasm of our farmers – new and existing – is incredible. We saw much more interest in farmers enrolling than we had spots to fill – in both new and existing geographies. This is a great “problem” to have — a problem that demonstrates the value of your network.


Supporting the existing network while enrolling 30+ new farmers this winter and early spring was not a trivial pursuit. The Soil Health Partnership team and project collaborators have been working overtime to put the plans together to bring the newly enrolled farmers on board and prepare for field testing.


Soil sampling is the first big step of the growing season for The Soil Health Partnership. Our team coordinated with all 100+ farmers and agronomists in the program to check and double check plot plans and sampling points before developing soil sampling packets. We tried a new approach to sending soil sampling packets out. We wanted to send out comprehensive sampling packets to reduce confusion and make it easier to sample. The SHP team is hopeful that this new approach will also result in higher quality data and better results for our farmers and agronomists.


We incorporated feedback from the 2016 SHP Summer meeting series and the more recent 2017 Soil Health Summit into a brainstorming session to put together the pieces of the packets. In the end, we ended up putting together almost everything needed for sampling except the probe, a four-wheeler and a GPS unit.



Let us know!  If you help with soil sampling – we ask for your feedback on the updated packets. Did they help?  If you’re interested in learning more about the packets and how we put them together – contact me at soilhealth@ncga.com. We are glad to help.


My final thought before we head out to the field is to remind everyone to stay safe during the upcoming growing season. Excitement is high and now is the time to make sure we are moving into the field in the safest way possible. I want to see everyone soon – and this means making sure we take care of ourselves and one another as we prepare for another exciting, safe, and productive season!



Some GRRREEAT News from Commodity Classic

Besides having a little fun at the Commodity Classic with Tony the Tiger, courtesy of Kellogg Company, the SHP made a big announcement during the ag expo March 2-4 in San Antonio. This year, 35 more farms will join our revolutionary research effort showing U.S. farmers how sustainability through soil health can also lead to increased profitably. That will bring our total enrolled farms to 100!


As we begin our fourth year, we are excited about our growth and look forward to releasing data from our efforts.


Read more


View Classic Flickr album


Tony the Tiger thinks the SHP is GRRREEAT!

(with SHP farmer Tom Kentner)

In the News!


Research is the key

At the Soil Health Partnership, we’re all about the research. We are also committed to spreading the word on the importance of soil health. Read this insightful piece from DTN Progressive Farmer reporters Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor and Jim Patrico, Progressive Farmer Senior Editor.


Celebrating World Water Day—and highlighting cover crops

The Des Moines Register featured SHP farmer Kevin Ross in a guest essay, highlighting World Water Day. Ross’s essay outlines the ways that farmers are improving water quality through the use of cover crops, advanced nutrient management and reduced tillage.


“I believe farmers care about improving the environment and limiting impact,” Ross says. “Sara and I want to improve our farm for the next generation. We want to protect water, soil and air, and grow more with less. And, if we can make our business more profitable through sustainability – that’s a win for all of us.”


Read the full essay here


What Trump’s Climate Change Executive Order Means for the Future of Clean Energy

An editorial by Cornell University’s David Wolfe appearing in Fortune points to the Soil Health Partnership as a win-win collaboration.

Read the editorial here



NCGA Launches Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest with New Categories

NCGA put out a call for photographers to help tell the story of farming field corn in America through the fourth annual Fields-of-Corn Photo Contest. Through this contest, NCGA captures high-resolution photos of corn growth from seed to harvest and the families that grow it. While the contest opened recently, interested participants will be able to submit multiple entries until November 30, 2017.


Open to all, the Fields-of-Corn photo contest offers a free opportunity for photographers to share their work while competing for 25 cash prizes, including a $500 grand prize. Entries will also be considered for prizes with cash awards for the top three entries in eight categories including: Corn, Growing Field Corn, Farm Family Lifestyle, Scenery/Landscape, Farming Challenges, SHP Conservation, Little Farmers and one for the most popular as determined by Facebook "likes."


For more information on prizes and on these categories, visit



Meet Jacob Ness, New Iowa Field Manager

Jacob Ness,the newest member of the SHP teamWe are excited to welcome Jacob Ness to the SHP team! Ness has joined us as the Western Iowa Field Manager, covering western Iowa and Nebraska. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University, majoring in plant science with an emphasis in soil science and geographic information science. A certified crop advisor, Ness has been one of the first CCAs to complete both the 4R Nutrient Management Specialty and Sustainability Specialty certifications.


Ness has a strong agronomic background, most recently working as a certified crop specialist and nutrient management specialist at AgVantage FS in southeast Iowa. He has also worked in agronomy and precision agriculture for Cargill and Monsanto. Originally from Brookings, South Dakota, he now lives in Marengo, Iowa with his wife, Krystle and their three children.






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