North Carolina State University
The overarching mission of the Soil Renaissance is to increase public awareness of the importance of soil health for enhancing healthy, profitable and sustainable natural resource systems. A variety of existing public and private organizations are currently involved in soil health education. The Soil Renaissance is not intended to be duplicative. Rather, it will strengthen and support those current initiatives, facilitate a common language about soil health and systematically addressing gaps in outreach.
A goal of the Soil Renaissance is to reawaken the public to the importance of soil health.
Objectives and strategies:
1. Create awareness of soil health and its importance to ecosystems and
- Measure current public awareness of soil health.
- Hire a communications/marketing team to develop and implement a national soil health awareness campaign collaborating with and building on existing partnerships and initiatives.
- Cooperate and collaborate to combine and integrate common messaging into existing national and international initiatives such as: International Year of Soil, USDA’s Unlock the Secrets in the Soil, The Soil Health Partnership, Global Soil Week, and Global Soil Partnership.
2. Increase knowledge, interest, understanding and adoption of soil health practices within grower community.
- Measure current knowledge, interest, understanding and adoption of soil health practices within the grower community.
- Working in collaboration with the Soil Renaissance Measurement Team, identify essential soil health assessment and soil health best practices to be promoted in agriculture.
- Document and promote existing programs related to soil health, including demonstration sites, workshops and conferences.
- Develop soil health educational materials and information sheets for use by agricultural service providers and trainers of providers.
- Provide agricultural service providers with access to new educational and training materials to promote adoption of soil health best practices by the grower community through the creation of an electronic library.
- Work with agricultural service providers to incorporate soil health assessment and promotion and adoption of best practices in work with the grower community towards improved soil health.
3. Increase knowledge, interest and understanding of the importance of soil health with the educator community to expand soil health promotion and education through existing formal and informal educational programs.
- Coordinate efforts with a national awareness campaign to target outreach to youth and community educators to promote the soil health movement in education.
- Identify existing soil-related curriculum and programs available for use in both formal and informal educational settings for youth.
- Develop an inventory of existing community education programs for both home and community lawns and gardens. Develop key messages and work with organizations identified through inventory of programs to encourage incorporation of soil health principles into existing curriculum and programs.
- Develop a clearinghouse of available soil health resources, identified through an inventory and compilation that can be promoted with educators in the field.
- Integrate soil health into the core curriculum for agriculture and extension in higher education.
4. Increase knowledge, interest and understanding of policymakers about the importance of soil health.
- Organize a congressional briefing on the importance of soil health.
- Cooperate with Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the International Year of Soil workshop planned for June 2015 in Washington, D.C.
- Conduct field tours for state and federal policymakers and staff to broaden their understanding of the importance of soil health.
A communications/marketing team is being engaged to develop and implement a national soil health awareness campaign that complements existing partnerships and initiatives.
The Cornell Soil Health Program’s collaborative research and extension work resulted in development of a cost-effective, comprehensive, publically-available testing for physical, biological and chemical soil health. Available since 2006, it has recently been updated with additional tests and a more comprehensive report. The Cornell Soil Health Assessment measures indicators of agronomically and environmentally important soil processes, such as aeration, infiltration, water storage, drainage, root growth, disease pressure, biological activity, and nutrient storage and release. Constraints in these processes are identified and prioritized, and specific management recommendations are developed to address quantified soil health constraints. Land managers can monitor changes over time, and adapt management practices to achieve chosen goals. http://soilhealth.cals.cornell.edu/
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service has a Soil Health Awareness campaign to “Unlock Secrets of the Soil.” Grower information, videos and learning resources are provided. http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/soils/health/