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.

Read a summary of our agricultural work here.

Our Work:

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters

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

Soil and water research and policy leaders, headed by The Ohio State University with support from Greenleaf Advisors, LLC, 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. We are continuing work to advance carbon sequestration on farms through regenerative agricultural practices and carbon markets.

Sensors and Data for Soil Health

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. By deploying sensors and mapping fields, farmers can begin to understand soil health and crop production at a micro scale, conserve resources, and reduce impacts on the environment. We are continuing this initiative by collaborating with researchers and farmers on scaling and improving technologies and connecting farmers to markets for compensation of management practices that protect soil, water, and climate.

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.

Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters and Dennis Dimick of National Geographic

National Geographic’s executive editor for the environment, Dennis Dimick, has come aboard as a keynote speaker for the Nutrient Management and Edge of Field Monitoring Conference held in conjunction with the Healthy Soil for Healthy Waters symposium from December 1-3, 2015 in Memphis, TN. His post, “Do We Treat Our Soil Like Dirt?” stresses the […]

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