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.
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
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.
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.
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.
December 4, 2015 – World Soil Day Celebrating World Soil Day today – Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters Conference in Memphis This week 200+ of the nation’s agricultural leaders assembled in Memphis, TN at the Healthy Soils for Healthy Waters (HSHW) symposium to advance sustainable practices and supportive policies for feeding a growing world population […]
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 […]
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 […]