Healthy Soils

Improving agricultural management practices to improve soil health, reduce nutrient runoff into area waterways,  conserve water, and increase crop yields and quality. We collaborate with industry, research centers, agencies and environmental organizations to advance multidisciplinary and whole system management practices for the agricultural lands that impact our nation’s waters.

Our Work:

Soil health and regenerative agriculture - sensors, technology, and markets

The agriculture sector offers a major opportunity to reduce global emissions through climate solutions, including soil carbon sequestration, reduced fuel consumption, and improved management practices with support from policy and financial incentives. There is a growing interest in smart agriculture that allows farmers to maximize yields while using minimal inputs as well as an interest from the market in minimizing risk and investing in the protection of soil, water, and carbon resources.

Our project will sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gasses in both the short- and long-term by 1) guiding the transition of conventional farms to proven and verifiable regenerative and sustainable management practices, 2) advancing research on measuring and monitoring tools and techniques for carbon and water footprint assessments, 3) informing policy levers that will support the transition to regenerative agriculture, and 4) exploring opportunities to brand products that are sourced from farms using sustainable practices.

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters

No-till protects soil health and resiliency. Photo Credit: NRCS.

Along with universities and organizations, we are working to advance regenerative agriculture practices to reduce soil erosion, prevent nutrient runoff, and support economically and environmentally resilient farms through engagement with carbon markets. We are investigating ways to “demystify” regenerative agriculture by measuring specific microbes associated with beneficial soil traits.

Soil and water research and policy leaders, headed by The Ohio State University with support from Greenleaf Advisors, LLC, Greenleaf Communities, and the University of Arkansas launched a workshop and symposium series dedicated to the development of multidisciplinary and whole system management practices for the agricultural lands that impact our nation’s waters. A collaborative multi-year effort, the series has been organized around the development of data-driven, case studies highlighting conservation practices to reduce nutrient exports to water resources, improve soil quality, and increase yields. In 2020, we organized a sensor technology workshop with the Illinois State Water Survey and Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to benefit agricultural soil health for water use efficiency, carbon sequestration and plant nutrient availability.

Gypsum as a Best Management Practice

Nutrient runoff from agricultural fields impacts the integrity of aquatic ecosystems, and the quality of water resources across the country. Excess phosphorus contributes to annual algal blooms in Great Lakes systems, killing wildlife, polluting drinking water with toxins, and disrupting economic growth. Gypsum is shown to reduce phosphorus loading from fields. Greenleaf, alongside our research and industry partners, helped inform NRCS Conservation Practice Standard Code 333 on the use of gypsum as a soil amendment.

Research results in the Maumee Basin of Ohio (led by The Ohio State University) and the Walnut Creek watershed in Indiana (led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis) demonstrate how gypsum helps sediment and nutrients stay on the land and out of the water.

From the Ground Up

Perennial Biomass to Reduce Nitrates

Agricultural production in the Midwest has been associated with nutrient resource losses through water, causing eutrophication in Great Lakes and Mississippi River watersheds, local impairment of drinking water sources, and Gulf Hypoxia.

Greenleaf provided communications, development, and outreach for Argonne National Laboratory on its agricultural research in Illinois where they study the growth of native grasses in otherwise unproductive farmland to produce bioenergy crops, thereby reducing nutrient pollutant flows into streams and sequestering greenhouse gases in soils.

Advancing regenerative agriculture and reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon markets

Innovation in soil sensors and monitoring technologies affords opportunities for water efficiency, carbon sequestration, and nutrient cycling in agricultural soils. In March, Greenleaf Communities held a workshop on Sensor Technologies and Applications to Soil Health with researchers, producers, and technology representatives to explore monitoring technologies and how sensors can be used to measure soil health […]

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Greenleaf Communities is Protecting Resources with Local to Global Solutions

The daily flood of bad news, from the pandemic, record-breaking wildfires, floods and hurricanes, economic devastation, and racial injustice, begs the question: how do we address the root causes of these problems and achieve beneficial impact?

Greenleaf Communities seeks to discover, share and apply solutions that sustain resources – water, soil, and climate – and therefore our communities. We work with experts and scientists, including Nobel prize winners, business leaders, and partners in mission-driven organizations.

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August 17th –  “Protecting our Climate, Water, and Soil through Local to Global Solutions”

Greenleaf bridges expertise in science, policy, and business to advance solutions for a healthy and sustainable world. On August 17th, we presented on climate mitigation and adaptation, a ‘One Water’ approach in northern Illinois, and building resilient agricultural systems for soil health, carbon sequestration, and water quality/quantity benefits. John Andersen led off by reflecting on […]

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