June Newsletter

June 15, 2017

From the Director:

Soil Sampling and Field Days



Nick Goeser, Ph.D.

Director, Soil Health Partnership

Wow!  Another year of soil sampling is behind us across the Soil Health Partnership. Farmers, agronomists and soil samplers, your efforts and continued support helped drive this to be the most efficient sampling year yet, but we will be reaching out soon to ask you how it went.  We look forward to your candid feedback on if it went well, or if we can improve the Soil Health Partnership together.


We are now looking forward to seeing you at our upcoming field events across the Soil Health Partnership. We will hold many events in each state within the program - each of which is stronger because of your help in hosting, presenting and supporting every event.


Whether you are brand new to the topics covered during a field walk, field day or round table discussion – or a seasoned veteran – we welcome all to join in and hopefully learn together locally. We know local information is most relevant to other farmers, and this is one of the reasons we hold so many events to bring people together.


We also know that the SHP staff cannot cover it all. This is why we bring in the local experts to help in the discussion – whether an industry representative, researcher or other close collaborator. Local experts know best how to make things work in your area.  This is also why we ask for your help in picking topics and recommending speakers. Your recommendations will help make sure the events are meaningful to your SHP.


It gives me great pleasure to see us come together with so many people interested in learning more about soil health. The field events provide us all a way to share about the opportunities and challenges with adopting new technology – whether a new planter, strip-till unit, or yield monitor.


Looking forward to seeing you soon!




Field Day season kicked off at Roger Zylstra’s farm in June



Field Days are Underway

Field Days have officially kicked off, with SHP farmer Roger Zylstra holding one of the first events of the year on his farm in Lynnville, Iowa on June 7. One of the best assets of the Soil Health Partnership is the farmers like Roger who share their knowledge and insights on cover crops, advanced nutrient management and conservation tillage. Our list of field days is updated every week as more events get scheduled! Many of them will take place later in the summer and fall, due to the wet spring. Watch for updates and plan to attend a field day near you!


View Field Day Map



Food and Conservation Groups Invest in Soil to Sustain Food Production


The national effort to enhance farm sustainability through soil health has additional backing from major manufacturers. General Mills has made a three-year, $2 million commitment to The Nature Conservancy, Soil Health Institute and Soil Health Partnership to support the development of tools and resources for farmers, landowners, and supply chain leaders to achieve widespread adoption of soil health practices. Nestlé Purina Pet Care has also committed to the soil health effort.


"Soil health is critical for everyone including farmers, farm communities, consumers, and companies,” said Jerry Lynch, Chief Sustainability Officer at General Mills. “We are grateful to partner with farmers in our supply chain in their ongoing work to build healthy soils, and welcome further collaboration with all interested parties in the value chain."


Nestlé Purina Pet Care has committed $1 million over five years to the Nature Conservancy and its efforts with the Soil Health Partnership.


“We understand and appreciate that healthy soil is the foundation for healthy agricultural products that nourish people and pets,” said Jack Scott, Nestlé Purina’s head of sustainability. “Soil underlies all of our quality ingredients grown and raised in the U.S., including soy, corn, wheat, rice and meat.”

Farmer Keith Alverson, center, represents the National Corn Growers Association and Soil Health Partnership at the Road Map introductory press conference.Roadmap to Soil Health

The Soil Health Institute has released an action plan for soil health—calling for soil health to emerge as the “cornerstone of land-use management decisions” in the 21st century. Alongside the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership collaborates closely with the Soil Health Institute, whose nationwide plan evolved after four years of stakeholder input.


Agricultural industry thought leaders, farmers, ranchers, scientists, government agency leaders, and non-governmental organizations provided input into the plan, which will be used to drive advancements in soil health.



Elyssa dodging recent storms and checking fields in Iowa  Meet Eastern Iowa Field Manager Elyssa McFarland

The Soil Health Partnership is fortunate to have five field managers dedicated to working with our farmer-partners, including Elyssa McFarland, who has been with the program since its early days. The field manager’s job is to help new farmers get started in the program with test plots, and assist along the way with soil sampling, monitoring and answering questions about the farming techniques implemented on a particular site.


“I wake up every day excited to get my hands in the soil,” said McFarland, Eastern Iowa Field Manager for the partnership. “Some farmers are trying cover crops for the first time, others have been doing no-till for 20 years. Some are multi-generation farmers, and some are new to the industry. The enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit are all the same—they want to make farming sustainable and maintain it as a profitable way of life.”


The field managers help organize, attend and offer presentations at each field day. Elyssa’s expertise, training and passion are critical to the success of the research of the SHP!


Elyssa is an Iowa native, raised on a grain and livestock farm east of Columbus Junction, Iowa. She has a Bachelor's degree in Agronomy from Iowa State University, and recently completed a dual Master's degree in Agronomy and Soil Science from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. She currently resides in Fruitland, Iowa.


The National Corn Growers Association and the Soil Health Partnership recently honored Elyssa with the “Rapid Recognition Award.” She consistently goes above and beyond in not only managing over 20 sites in Iowa on her own at one time, but also for helping new field manager Jacob Ness meet growers and collaborators and get going! On top of that, she has been critical in helping new growers in Missouri get on board and get their fields set up in time for Missouri’s early sampling.


Watch Elyssa's video profile here.



We LOVE Pictures!


SHP farmer Jason Lay, Bloomington, IL, sent us these beautiful cover crop photos. We then shared them on Facebook and Twitter to spread the message of soil health and the Soil Health Partnership. Planting, growing, spraying or harvesting, we would love to see your farm in action. Send pictures any time to Renee Hulshof at renee@rosemedia.biz.






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