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...

Greenleaf Communities June Board Meeting

Greenleaf Communities, whose mission is to mitigate the environmental causes of human health concerns, hosted a successful Summer 2014 Board Meeting last week. True to Greenleaf’s collaborative approach, we brought together leaders in business, science and policy to share our latest in leading research teams to inform business practices and government policies. We discussed current projects, such as our healthy soil study in the Eagle Creek watershed near Indianapolis and the importance in demonstrating reproducible results to strengthen best practices. We also considered the idea of Greenleaf Communities as an incubator for experiments that test how to best advance a sustainable world. Board member Dr. Janet Hock presented her work studying links between environmental exposures and incidences of cancer in Maine. She and her colleagues mapped lifestyle, behavioral, and geographic environmental exposures with cancer cases. This research could benefit healthcare by enhancing diagnosis and prognosis, improve health risk assessments and help healthcare centers determine where to place specialists. The Ohio State University, with support from Greenleaf Advisors, is launching a workshop and symposium series later this year. The Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Workshop will take place September 14-16th in Columbus, Ohio with the goal of improving agricultural management practices on lands that impact our nation’s waters. The workshop will bring together researchers and representatives from a variety of disciplines to approach this watershed issue. Additional details will be posted on this site as they become available. After reflecting upon our current and upcoming work, the Greenleaf board members strategized on addressing other issues of critical importance to environmental and human health, namely water scarcity and the effects of...

Declining nutrient contents in produce over time

One of Greenleaf Communities main concerns is soil health. We understand how important it is to have healthy soils to provide nutritious food. We wish to decrease the impact that poor nutrition has on human health. Our research program, From the Ground Up, focuses on the effect that soil has on our health. Recently, Psychology Today covered the topic of declining nutrient contents in produce based on research conducted by Dr. Donald Davis. This research compared nutrient levels from 1950 to those in 1999. It discovered a reduction in protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and ascorbic acid in the 1999 testing. This was potentially caused by selective breeding for size, yield or uniformity rather than nutritional levels. Learn More about Dr. Davis’s study. Another issue with current conventional farming techniques is tilling the soil, which can negatively impact soil microbes, erosion and loss of organic matter. Healthy soils are important for maintaining productive and healthy crops. No-till agriculture can keep essential plant nutrients in the soil, support growth and aid in producing productive crops. It has other economic benefits for farmers including reducing the amount of labor and the amount of additional fertilizer. Read more on soil health and other benefits of no-till farming from the NRCS. Greenleaf is working with Dr. Britt Burton-Freeman and Dr. Janet Hock on the issues of nutrition and human health. Source: Psychology Today January/February...

Reducing the impacts of arsenic-contaminated soils

Soil contamination is a major concern for Greenleaf Communities. We strive to learn more about how to reduce the impact contaminants have on human health. An emerging issue is the level of arsenic found in our food, water and soil. Research underway is improving out understanding of the impacts of arsenic in food sources and developing practices to reduce the amount of arsenic in food. Arsenic comes in two forms, organic and inorganic, with inorganic arsenic being the more harmful to human health. Inorganic arsenic is formed when arsenic combines with other elements (not including carbon). Exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic can be detrimental to human health and has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing certain cancers and cardiovascular disease. Exposure to arsenic can occur from ingestion of arsenic-contaminated soil, drinking contaminated water, and applying pesticides that contain arsenic. Arsenic can also be found in certain foods like rice, which can contain small amounts of inorganic arsenic. [1] Arsenic in Soil Arsenic occurs naturally in the soil in many areas around the world, but has also contaminated soils through its past use in wood treatment, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Copper-chromated arsenic (CCA) had been used as a wood preservative in residential and commercial structures. It has since been phased out in residential settings but can still be found in older structures. Lead arsenate was a commonly used arsenical insecticide beginning in 1892. The most common use of lead arsenate was used to control moths in apple orchards. Therefore, on land that was previously used for an orchard, it is important to conduct soil testing before...