November Newsletter

November 1, 2017

From the Director:

Fall News: A bounty of data




Nick Goeser, Ph.DDirector, SHPFrom across the Soil Health Partnership network, we hope you had a Happy Halloween! It is hard to imagine that we are moving into November already. This growing season has brought challenges and growth opportunities for all of us – as farmers, agronomists and SHP staff. Many planted late or replanted – setting back the time schedules on harvest – yet many reports bring news of impressive, optimized yields.


We view this harvest season the same way as our farmers and agronomists – as one of the most critical and exciting times of any growing season. Together we can learn how our efforts paid off, whether on a test plot or on broader acres. The SHP field team has been working to keep up with our farmers and collect valuable data throughout the year – including yield data. This yield data will be utilized for our farmers to track changes in adopting new practices like cover crops, no-till/strip-till, or the most advanced nutrient management techniques.


So what now? What do we do with the data after it is collected?


You can expect results to be shared soon. The SHP field team and our SHP analytics teams will be meeting November 27-28 to review data summaries from across our 12-state geography. Our SHP farmers will receive individual reports on January 18, 2017, containing very detailed data summaries and interpretations from each field in the network.


What if you are not enrolled as a farmer in the SHP network? We have great information for you, too!  Initial data summaries (aggregated and anonymized) will be shared at winter meetings in each state. Summaries will include early looks at trends with soil, crop production, economic, environmental and yield data. These presentations will also include lessons learned from our farmers, agronomists and field managers in utilizing the best practices for optimal crop, economic and environmental performance.


Have a safe and happy November!




Jim Zimmerman, Rosendale, Wisconsin, is one of the six Wisconsin farmers to join SHP.

Brent and Charlotte Hoerr, Palmyra, Missouri, own one of six Missouri farms now part of the SHP research.


Welcome aboard, Missouri and Wisconsin!


The Soil Health Partnership is excited to welcome 12 new farms in two states to the fold. Farmers in Missouri and Wisconsin are now part of the research—bringing the total to 111 farms in 12 states.


“We talk time and again how the solutions that work on one farm or in one region aren’t necessarily going to work somewhere else,” said Darrick Steen, director of environmental programs for the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “That’s why it’s important that our research include farms with diverse soil types and climates. We’re excited to see what these farms will contribute to data collection on cover crops, tillage and advanced nutrient management.”


The full news release on Wisconsin is available here, and Missouri’s here.

Read a recent AgWeb story on SHP expansion.


Pictured is Elyssa McFarland with one of our new Juniper Mesa Geo mobile GPS tabletsProud to be nerdy about soil!


Sometimes, we get a little bit excited about technology. Pictured are our new Juniper Mesa Geo mobile GPS tablets. This technology will allow our field managers to access field spatial data in any weather condition, be able to make changes to the data — and even more cool: all the information ties back to a geospatial point.


“These units help us track exactly where the applications in the plot are, so we can help the farmers mark where to plant the cover crop seed, and track afterwards whether the seed ended up in the right spot," said Elyssa McFarland field manager for Eastern Iowa. "During harvest, we can also help farmers line up with the plots where we are collecting data to maximize the useable harvest data.”



Global Harvest Initiative mentions SHP
in connection with World Food Prize


The Global Harvest Initiative presented the findings of its 8th annual Global Agricultural Productivity Report®: A World of Productive Sustainable Agriculture before an audience of farmers and youth involved in agriculture, and global leaders in science, research, policy and private industry attending the World Food Prize in October in Des Moines, Iowa.


The GAP Report mentions the importance of soil health, and the Soil Health Partnership. The report found global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050. But, the report notes: “Farmers understand that healthy soils are the starting point for farm productivity and sustainability.”


See pages 24-25 for SHP section of report




A cover crop mix blooms near Hoopeston, Ill.From SARE: Promising survey results on the use of cover crops


The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program released results of the annual Cover Crop Analysis Survey, and the results are worth noting! Following the use of cover crops, farmers reported increased yields of corn, soybeans and wheat, and improvement in the control of herbicide-resistant weeds. And among those that don’t use cover crops, they expressed a strong interest in learning more. The poll was conducted by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) with help from Purdue University and funding support from SARE and the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA).


Full results can be found here.




SHP farmers featured in National Geographic


National Geographic recently spoke to three Soil Health Partnership farmers about their farming practices and told their stories from the popular National Geographic website. They photographed and spoke to Kevin Ross, a sixth-generation family farmer in western Iowa, Bryan Biegler, of Lake Wilson, Minn. and Paul Taylor of Esmond, Ill. The sponsored content from the National Corn Growers Association seeks to educate the wider public about farming sustainability, and the practices advocated by the Soil Health Partnership.


Check out the stories about Kevin, Bryan and Paul!


Soil health featured at Tri-Societies event


When you visit Florida, you go to talk about soil health, right?  Well, maybe not. But we did!  SHP Director Nick Goeser assisted and presented in five break-out sessions in late October at the joint annual meeting of The American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and Soil Science Society of America. More than 4,000 scientists, professionals, educators, and students attended this year's meeting entitled "Managing Global Resources for a Secure Future," Oct. 22-25, 2017, in Tampa, Florida.






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