Digging In

SHP’s network expands into South Dakota

By Maddy Rabenhorst on Thursday, 30 May, 2019

“Think Globally, Act Locally” is a mantra we use for agriculture.  Few things exemplify this mantra like the Soil Health Partnership’s relationships with individual states and their associations.  Each state faces unique issues and questions specific to their geography and environment. SHP’s core mission is to partner with farmers as they try new soil health management practices with the goal of improving soil health. However, we know that that mission translates differently depending on the geography.  Since our larger goal is to support adoption and understanding of varied conservation practices, these state-level relationships and knowledge are key.


Thanks to creative partnerships with the states, we have been able to explore and define ways to increase our impact, build our network and strengthen our ability to work with more farmers across the US. 


In 2018, South Dakota Corn saw such an opportunity to connect multiple partners working to support soil health and farmers in South Dakota. South Dakota Corn and NRCS worked together to secure funding and support to hire a SHP Field Manager for the state. These collective efforts will provide the opportunity for SHP to collaborate with local soil health initiatives and work with South Dakota farmers to implement soil health practices on working lands.


"SD Corn strongly encourages farming practices that build and protect soil health.  We know that the benefits of these practices must not only be demonstrated successfully on the land, but must also be backed up with credible, robust data,” said South Dakota Director of Sustainability, Jim Ristau. “The Soil Health Partnership provides just that, and we are excited to partner with them to help communicate those benefits."​​


Through this partnership, the SHP will work to improve soil health in South Dakota by:

  • Creating a network of SHP sites to help growers implement soil health practices on their farm
  • Providing education and outreach opportunities to South Dakota farmers
  • Collaborating with state partners to elevate soil health specific priorities such as carbon research and salinity projects


We have setup two partner sites in southeast South Dakota for the 2019 growing season. One site is focused on comparing no-till to conventional tillage while the other site will be comparing cover crops versus no cover crops. In addition to the two partner sites, two Associate sites have also been established for this growing season. Both of these sites will be looking at the difference between cover crops and no cover crops.


The SHP will continue to build our network of sites this year. South Dakota Field Manager, Maddy Rabenhorst, is looking for three growers in northern and central South Dakota to participate in the program. An additional seven Associate sites will also be implemented within this next year. If you are interested in participating in the South Dakota SHP program, please reach out to Maddy directly.


“We are very appreciative for South Dakota Corn’s leadership to create this collaboration,” SHP Executive Director Shefali Mehta said. “South Dakota NRCS and SHP are off to a quick and strong start with our first two partner sites, and Maddy is working hard to bring additional farmers into the partnership. The SHP will continue to support the work that has been done within the state along with developing new efforts to improve the state’s soil health. I am excited for this program to take root and flourish.”