Greenspace: Better Soil, Better Farms — That’s the Aim of New Program

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Author: Ryan Faircloth | Published: November 14, 2017

A collaboration between the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources and the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center aims to promote best practices for soil health.

The two organizations last week announced a joint program, dubbed the Minnesota Office for Soil Health. The program will help teach farmers, conservationists and others how to best manage soil health.

The program will be run by University of Minnesota and state staff, and stakeholders from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Post Bulletin spoke with University of Minnesota Water Resources Center Director Jeff Peterson about the new partnership.

How did the idea for a Minnesota Office of Soil Health come about?

It’s certainly been a topic that’s of interest to a growing number of people. Our interest in it from our center stems from a lot of it being things that are beneficial, just like a win-win, because things that are beneficial for soil health also are beneficial for water resources. It’s a win-win from the perspective of, at least in the long term, there’s growing evidence … that it’s helpful for farmers and their production. It builds conditions for them to be more resilient to drought, for example.

Can you tell me a little bit about what the mission of this office is going to be?

We’re bringing the university’s resources to … be able to bring science-based information, or new evolving understanding of soil health, out to state … and federal agencies and the local units of government, the community of conservation professionals that work with farmers and ultimately producers themselves so that people can enhance their understanding from a solid research base of how to build soil health.

So a lot of outreach then?

It’s mostly education and outreach, but also a research component that will be helping to largely coordinate a lot of the research that’s already been going on and connect it. I should mention that economic analysis is part of the research and outreach piece too, in addition to soil science.
 
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