Imagine a Day without Water

Water unites all of us. Can you begin to imagine a day without water? It isn’t just your personal use of water – brushing your teeth, flushing your toilet, taking a shower – though those rituals are vital. Water is also essential to a functioning economy. An economic study released by the Value of Water Campaign earlier this year found that a single nationwide day without water service would put $43.5 billion of economic activity at risk. But investing in water infrastructure, unfortunately, has not been a priority for decades. And the truth is, communities across the country have let those systems deteriorate for far too long. Greenleaf Communities and its sister organization, Greenleaf Advisors, has deep experience with water resource management projects for both environmental and social well-being. Our work with the full spectrum of stakeholders, scientists, and policymakers helps to ensure that water resources will meet the needs of a growing world and the challenges of a changing climate. The Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Initiative is dedicated to developing and expanding multidisciplinary and whole systems management practices for agricultural lands that impact our nation’s waters.  Our research in Ohio and Indiana demonstrates how gypsum helps sediment and nutrients stay on the land and out of the water. Excess phosphorus and nitrogen can contribute to algal blooms much like the ones in Toledo, Ohio causing economic and social impacts through loss of recreation and a lack of drinking water for residents. Greenleaf is assisting Argonne National Laboratory in their research on perennial biomass crops and their contribution to reduced nitrogen loads. We are working with Sustainable Waters...

John Andersen celebrates dedication of Trout Bay Conservation Area

On June 16 and 17, John Andersen joined Nature Conservancy of Canada and its many conservation partners from the U.S. and Canada to celebrate the dedication of Trout Bay Conservation Area on the North Shore of Lake Superior.  You can read more here about why those assembled have been working 15 years to protect these coastal lands and waters that support so many wide-ranging species and natural communities, including the Canada Lynx, grey wolf, peregrine falcon, arctic disjunct plants, and migratory birds. Read Wendy Cridland’s thoughtful piece on the importance of this area and it’s meaning to...

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters 2017 in Denver a Success!

The 2017 Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters (HSHW) Symposium took place February 1st in Denver at the National Association of Conservation Districts Annual Meeting with a national audience learning from expert producers and researchers. The symposia series is dedicated to integrated and whole systems approaches to agricultural land management practices that protect the availability and quality of land and water resources while generating profitable crop production. At this symposium, 6 of the 25 recognized “No-Till Legends” were panelists or in attendance. This year we brought together the speakers below whose work preserves resources in the Western, Midwest, and Southern United States and as far as Australia. Brian Richter is Chief Water Scientist at The Nature Conservancy and the Founder of Sustainable Waters. As a Colorado native who has counseled governments and institutions around the world on sustainable water resource solutions, it was only natural that Brian served as the keynote speaker. Brian presented a “recipe for a sustainable water future” focused on setting sustainable limits on water extraction, reducing water consumption, quantifying rights to use available water, and enabling water trading. Brian has authored many articles and books including Chasing Water: A Guide for Moving from Scarcity to Sustainability. Brian presented on how we can save water through improving irrigation practices, changing crops, using no-till farming and other practices, and how water markets and water rights trading are being utilized to advance sustainability goals. See Brian’s slides here. Jeff Mitchell is a Cropping Systems Specialist at the University of California-Davis Extension whose research focuses on soil and water management in vegetable production systems in the Central Valley, one of the most productive agricultural regions...

Research results in Indiana show gypsum reduces soluble reactive phosphorus on agricultural lands

Poor soil conditions in Midwest agricultural lands can reduce plant uptake of nutrients leading to over-application of fertilizers and pesticides. Excess nutrients run off fields into waterways where they contribute to toxic algal blooms that threaten public health, as well as eutrophication that harms aquatic life. One best practice that improves soil conditions is the use of calcium sulfate (gypsum) as a soil amendment; it improves nutrient uptake by the plants and reduces loss from the fields into the waterways. Dr. Pierre Jacinthe of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) just completed the first year of gypsum research in the Walnut Creek Watershed in Indiana. Indianapolis Power & Light and GYPSOIL sponsored this project that Greenleaf originated and oversaw. Ron Chamberlain of GYPSOIL provided agronomic consultancy. Dr. Jacinthe’s team selected two fields near North Salem, IN and managed them with identical crop rotation, fertilizer application, and other farm practices. The researchers collected and analyzed soil and water samples. The results: gypsum application reduced soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) concentrations by an average of 41% during the growing season. SRP is the limiting factor in many regional waterbodies; this means that it is the primary contributing factor to problematic algal blooms.   In the study, gypsum application also increased electrical conductivity, microbial biomass carbon, and soil respiration. Microbial biomass carbon and soil respiration are related to soil health. The Indiana study complements a research project underway in Ohio, where Greenleaf assists Dr. Warren Dick of The Ohio State University in the Maumee River Basin.  This three-year study has reduced soluble reactive phosphorus concentrations in tile water runoff at the gypsum-treated fields by an average...

Greenleaf and Partners Present Webinar: “Gypsum as an Agricultural Soil Amendment” to The Nature Conservancy

Greenleaf partners, Dr. Warren Dick of The Ohio State University, Ron Chamberlain of GYPSOIL, and Joe Nester of NesterAg, presented to The Nature Conservancy this week on the use of gypsum as an agricultural soil amendment and its environmental benefits. Dick spoke on the state of the science, including recent research on farms draining into the Maumee basin that demonstrated water quality benefits of reduced soluble reactive phosphorus loadings of 39%.  Chamberlain and Nester presented on producer benefits with soil and crop response to gypsum that aided water infiltration and reduced runoff. John Andersen and Ron Chamberlain then provided a policy update including the new national practice standards for gypsum that Greenleaf and its partners, including Dr. Darrell Norton, have been working on for years – NRCS Conservation Practice Standards. You can view the slides here: Gypsum webinar slides Resources Greenleaf Advisors Greenleaf Partner Resources Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters  Join the HSHW mailing list GYPSOIL Research Library Gypsum as an Agricultural Amendment, Warren Dick Nester Ag...