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.

Strong Greenleaf representation at arsenic symposium

Greenleaf Communities was well represented at the Arsenic Contamination of Food and Water symposium on April 10 at the 245th American Chemical Society’s National Meeting and Exposition in New Orleans. Through the work of our partners and board members and their colleagues, research into a Greenleaf priority on Healthy Soils is being advanced, and our awareness […]

Continue reading