Digging In

Farmers: Allies in Conservation, The Nature Conservancy Celebrates 5 Years with SHP

Farmers: Allies in Conservation, The Nature Conservancy Celebrates 5 Years with SHP

By Pipa Elias, Director, North America Agriculture Program, The Nature Conservancy on Thursday, 15 August, 2019

 

Farmers are the heart of the Soil Health Partnership (SHP) and the heartbeat of our nation. They are not only among our greatest allies in conservation, but they grow the food that nourishes the world. 

A sustainable food system is potentially one of the most significant ways to ensure a future where both nature and people thrive. Healthy soil provides a fertile ecosystem for food production and is crucial for clean water, reduced soil erosion and nutrient loss, increased farmer resilience to weather extremes, and enhanced biodiversity. 

SHP’s 5-year anniversary is an exciting opportunity to reflect on the progress that has been made, both in terms of scientific research and relationships that are being leveraged to expand the adoption of soil health-promoting practices. Not only has SHP brought together diverse people, companies and organizations around a common cause, but it’s provided a scientific platform to show how agriculture and the environment are intrinsically linked. 

The Conservancy estimates that improving adopting soil health-promoting practices on at least half of U.S. croplands by 2025 could deliver up to $7.4 billion in water and climate benefits annually. Farmers stand to gain $37 million for each one percent of cropland transformed—that’s $1.2 billion annually across the U.S. corn belt. By elevating the role of soil health in cropland management systems, the Conservancy and its partners can improve the long-term viability of U.S. farming and create a soil health model for farming systems around the world.

By demonstrating and communicating the environmental benefits—like improved water quality, enhanced flooding resilience and carbon storage—and the economic value of these practices, the Soil Health Partnership is essential to the Conservancy’s goal to achieve widespread adoption of soil health and nutrient management practices throughout the U.S. 

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The Soil Health Partnership (SHP) is celebrating its fifth anniversary as a farmer-led initiative fostering transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. SHP has grown from 17 active farms in 2014 to 220 active farms in 2019. SHP represents around 6,000 acres, spans across 16 states and partners with over 100 organizations at the federal, state and county levels. Join us as we reflect on the past five years and celebrate the opportunities ahead!

Photo Credit: © Ken Geiger/TNC