The Soil Health Summit 2019 with Soil Health Partnership was the largest ever—360 registered attendees made their way to St. Louis to learn and network. A diverse group including farmers, corporations, educators and environmental groups spent two days talking about soil health. The summit provided many takeaway messages and insights of interest. Here are just a few:
- Enthusiasm for learning new sustainability practices and adopting new farm management tools to protect and improve soil is not being slowed by a prolonged downturn in the farm economy. Many farmers, landlords, and others are investing in the long game to assure more sustainable and profitable agriculture.
- SHP outreach is building a diverse coalition of partners from farms all the way to consumers. The program and the network being created is growing rapidly.
- The common interest of proving the latest farming techniques, building healthier soils, cleaner water while maintaining farmer profitability is getting positive attention outside of agriculture, including with elected officials.
- Early in-field research shows no statistically significant yield drag from using cover crops and organic matter is increasing.
- More than 60% of the funding for the summit came directly from farmers or through their commodity organizations, like Corn Growers Associations, reflecting a major commitment that bodes well for the future.
Sponsors like McDonald’s, Environmental Defense Fund, Bayer, Cargill, state corn and soybean commodity groups, National Corn Growers, The Nature Conservancy, Corteva, Tyson and others provide more than just funding for a one-time event. They are key partners throughout the year in SHP’s efforts to research, educate and advocate for soil health initiatives, providing a valuable link from farmers to consumers.