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Farm Foundation, Noble Foundation Team Up for 'Soil Renaissance'

Bill Spiegel Updated: 07/21/2014 @ 4:32pm I grew up in north-central Kansas, and am the Fourth Generation to maintain and manage our farm on which we grow wheat, soybeans and grain sorghum. I'm a 1993 graduate of Kansas State University in ag communications. I joined the Successful Farming/Agriculture.com team in 2014.

A new partnership is working to develop a protocol that standardizes efforts to measure soil health and help farmers develop soil-nutrient tests that are based on soil-health testing, affordable, easy-to-use, and based on science.

The Farm Foundation, a nonprofit agriculture-based thinktank in Washington, D.C., announced this week its partnership with the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in creating "The Soil Renaissance."

The joint effort is designed to "bring people together and discover tools and approaches to advance soil health in the U.S., North America, and ultimately, around the world," said Neil Conklin, president of the Farm Foundation. The groups announced the launch of their collaboration during a Farm Foundation Forum July 16 in Washington, D.C.

The groups are embarking upon an integrated, science-based approach that will use partnerships with other organizations to bring solutions to soil-health challenges. Across the agriculture industry and in government agencies, numerous soil-health inititatives are already underway; the Soil Renaissance is working to develop a framework for standardizing these initiatives.

Bill Buckner, president and CEO of the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, admits that developing an industry-wide consensus on soil-health standards is nearly impossible.

"In order to establish a benchmark, you need to have a standard. We have a very engaged effort working with soil-health researchers across the country to develop that standard," Buckner says. "If we can find 50% agreement on what matters to everyone, knowing there are vast differences in regions, climate, and environment, scientists can figure out the rest."

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