As you may or may not have heard, Soil Health Partnership – a project of the National Corn Growers Association – will close its doors on May 28, 2021.
SHP has accomplished its original mission of determining the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices and communicating the importance of soil health to farmers and the agriculture community. In carrying out this mission, we developed best-in-class on-farm research protocols, farmer engagement strategies, and an elite suite of communications channels to tell the story, including webinars, blog posts, social media, podcasts and more. We’ve also released several key findings, including 2019 and 2020 cover crop planting reports, two published research papers, several important webinars and a study on the economic impact of conservation practices on farms.
Despite this good work, the empirical on-farm research SHP set about to conduct is expensive. Add to that our high level of farmer-facing support – with field staff covering 16 states and a bona fide research and data analysis staff – and the current cost of a program like SHP exceeds existing levels of support. As such, it’s time to sunset this project and move forward toward new and different approaches.
As partners and supporters of SHP have learned of this news, the overwhelming outreach from the community reflects the collaborative nature of SHP and the great partnerships developed along the way. It also reflects just how far we’ve come as an organization in the past few years.
The knowledge developed at SHP lives on through its staff, most of whom are taking their unique expertise and experience into various corners of the soil health and conservation worlds. Wherever they each land, I am confident they will apply the same professionalism, hope, and passion displayed at SHP – and, in the process, make even greater contributions.
The impact of SHP will also live on through our dataset, which will be shepherded by two current staff members in a partnership with the University of Minnesota GEMS Platform. Eventually, this invaluable data will be available to the community for further analysis and leveraged for even better tools for farmers. This transition of the data is funded by several key partners, who graciously stepped in to support us with short-term funding: The Walton Family Foundation, The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, The Nature Conservancy, General Mills and IndigoAg.
This has been a true partnership with the agriculture community. On behalf of the Soil Health Partnership team, thank you to all the farmers, sponsors, supporters and donors who contributed time, money, energy, and passion to this cause over the past seven years.