As the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) looks back on five years with the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), the goals of the founding members was to demonstrate soil health improvements in a way that encourages widespread adoption. By SHP being grower led, we are demonstrating to our peers what works and does not work. Growers are working together to improve their soil health and do so economically.
Soil health is the best way to measure decades of farm management and conservation improvements. Growers have been working to improve water management, erosion, nutrient management, crop protection stewardship, soil tilth, and efficiency for generations. Soil health is the perfect way to show the results of combining those practices together and identifying how it can be economical.
Research and demonstration plots have been successful, and understanding that when techniques move into commercial fields, further tweaking is needed operation by operation. NCGA sought to accelerate that process while being transparent and scientific in the process. By working in production fields, the SHP process shows fellow growers and the public how these improvements can be made.
About seven years ago, NCGA realized we needed to better showcase American growers, our markets, and show that the U.S. corn grower can adopt and adapt new production practices quickly and demonstrate continuous improvement of our greatest resources, our land and soil. We realized we could not do it alone and we needed non-traditional and traditional partners to make that happen. Engaging with pragmatic, goal focused groups like the Environmental Defense Fund and The Nature Conservancy were ideal, while bringing in agronomic expertise from Bayer gave us the final piece of support we needed to build a viable program.
This is only just beginning. SHP is a priority to the NCGA board, and we can’t wait to see where we are in another five years and beyond.
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!