Kansas Corn Celebrates Sustainability with the Soil Health Partnership
To celebrate Earth Day earlier this week, Kansas Corn is taking time to recognize the conservation and soil health measures being taken by Kansas farmers enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership. Farmers are exploring new ways to keep their soils healthy and farms running for generations to come.
The Soil Health Partnership (SHP), is a farmer-led initiative that promotes the adoption of soil health practices for economic and environmental benefit. SHP is committed to find the risks and benefits of soil health practices by collecting on-farm data to evaluate the impacts of soil health practices on the soil, the environment, and the farmer’s bottom line.
Spreading across 16 states, SHP has the potential to impact a large group of America’s farmers and continues to help them build a peer-to-peer network. While creating these connections, participating farmers are also while working alongside experienced regional Field Managers to conduct field trials to measure soil health indicators.
“By joining the Soil Health Partnership, I thought it would open the door for not only our farm, but for our area farmers that also practice notill and are looking into cover crops,” says Hayden Guetterman, a SHP farmer from Miami County. “It opens the door to bring on-farm research in, show the benefits cover crops are doing in this area, and how they can better the soil health and limit soil erosion to increase better soils.”
The main motive for Guetterman to join SHP was to find out more data specific information about their farm and learn about new practices that could benefit the operation. SHP provided the resources to collect and analyze the data that helps make informed decisions about soil health practices.
When a field manager first comes on to an operation, farmers are asked to identify what goals they would like to focus on. Often times, when farmer has a specific goal in mind, one cover crop typically will achieve the goal of a producer but will also help with many other issues they might be seeing.
“What the Soil Health Partnership is doing is they’re trying to get data,” Guetterman says.“Through soil samples, satellite imagery, and yield data, they are trying to decipher all of that andget a measurement of how we can go out and take soil samples in our fields and know how much fertilizer is there. They are also trying to get the data on how the cover crops are improving our soils by developing fertility sampling procedures to measure how cover crops are increasing soil health.”
By measuring soil macronutrients, micronutrients and other health indicators, SHP is working to learn more about the relationship between soil health practices, soil health management systems, and farm economics.
The Soil Health Partnership was established in 2014 as the result of a shared vision by The Nature Conservancy, Bayer, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Corn Growers Association. Learn more about The Soil Health Partnership and participating farms like the Guttermans at https://www.soilhealthpartnership.org/.