W1196: Implementing and Correlating Soil Health Management and Assessment in Western States
(Multistate Research Project)
W1196: Implementing and Correlating Soil Health Management and Assessment in Western States
Duration: 10/01/2021 to 09/30/2026
Statement of Issues and Justification
Soil health is fundamental to sustainable intensification of agricultural productivity that is necessary to meet demands of a growing human population without degrading ecosystem functionality (Struik and Kuyper, 2017). Soil health can be defined as the ability of soil to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and well-being (Karlen et al., 1997), and is typically quantified with respect to soil physical, chemical, and biological attributes. Thus, healthy soils support optimal productivity, maintain biodiversity, support climate-resilient agricultural enterprises, sequester atmospheric carbon to mitigate global warming, ultimately providing the foundation for sustainable intensification (Paustian et al., 2016).
In order to help maintain sustainable agroecosystems, over the last decade (~ 2010 to 2020), a USDA-sponsored initiative successfully generated a great deal of excitement around soil health. But zeal to implement soil health farming practices outpaced identification of sound soil health assessment methods and sometimes led to claims that overreached what could be accomplished in terms of organic matter accumulation, optimal biogeochemical cycling to maintain productivity, or other soil attributes, especially for soils of the arid and semiarid western US. More recently, the NRCS Soil Health Division, the Soil Health Institute, and university and federal researchers have begun to scientifically develop effective, environment-specific, chemical, physical, and biological assessment methods, or to identify and refine those developed over the last 40 to 50 years (e.g., Norris et al., 2020; Cornell University, 2020; Soil Health Institute, 2020a; USDA-NRCS, 2011; Stott, 2019).
As such, soil health assessment is becoming an effective indicator of management system sustainability (e.g., Ippolito et al., 2017; Karlen et al., 2014; Stott et al., 2012) and federal and state agencies are developing inventory and incentive strategies. But the many combinations of soil type, regional climate, management history, economic drivers, time, and variable climate change trajectories do not follow state or other jurisdictional boundaries, meaning that the most effective soil health assessment tools vary from place to place, over time, and cross US state boundaries. Water-constrained systems of the western states, with inherently low organic matter and at times high salinity, require different approaches toward assessment than more humid regions. The multi-state research project proposed here would implement a coordinated strategy to identify best soil health management and assessment approaches for western US production systems.
The WDC52 workgroup currently includes scientists and educators from across the western US within and outside the State Agricultural Experiment Station System, many of whom have decades of experience assessing soil health and quality in many western crop and livestock production systems. Representation consists of the following land grant institutions: the University of Hawaii, Washington State University, Oregon State University, the University of California – Davis, the University of Idaho, Utah State University, Montana State University, the University of Wyoming, New Mexico State University, the University of Nebraska, Kansas State University, and Lincoln University in Missouri. Two Soil Health Institute scientists representing the western US, and one soil scientist from the USDA-ARS in Fort Collins, Colorado, also comprise the current workgroup. We have reached out to the USDA-NRCS for western US representation (Dr. Rachel Seman-Varner, NRCS National Soil Health Specialist), so our workgroup efforts align with those of the NRCS. Members of this multi-state research group propose to investigate those soil physical, chemical, and biological attributes necessary to maintain sustainable agricultural intensification in the western US over time. Collaborative investigations and data sharing will generate needed knowledge, and identify knowledge gaps, to develop and promote healthy western US soils while minimizing the potential for unintended negative consequences (e.g., off-site nutrient, erosional, and yield losses, etc.).
Acknowledging the principles and practices that promote improvements in soil physical, chemical, and biological attributes in order to create sustainable, resilient agroecosystems is the epicenter of soil health. More importantly, fully understanding the interplay and intricacies between these three soil components within the context of managed agroecosystems, over time, is paramount for feeding, clothing, and fueling an ever-expanding human population, while reducing environmental degradation and the human footprint.
Although this newly created Western Development Committee has yet to perform collaborative research with respect to soil health issues in the Western US, many within the Committee have worked with one another in the past or are currently collaborating. All members of the committee currently have projects that focus on various aspects of soil health. Numerous research examples listed below all have a direct soil health focus:
- Jim Ippolito (Colorado State University): 1) multi-location projects focused on BMPs and edge of field water quality; 2) multi-location biosolids land application projects (part of the Soil Health Institute North American Project); 3) wheat-fallow versus wheat-corn-fallow rotations; 4) dairy manure amendments for improving degraded agricultural land; 5) quantifying benchmark soils for soil health in the central High Plains (with PI Norton, the University of Wyoming); 6) heavily involved in the newly formed (2019) state of Colorado Collaborative for Health Soils Initiative at the state level; 7) co-lead of WDC52;
- Jay Norton (University of Wyoming): Use of labile soil C/N pools as soil health indicators in 1) long-term cheatgrass invasion; 2) cover crops and other alternatives to traditional high plains wheat-fallow rotations; 3) integrating cover crops and annual forages into intensive irrigated sugarbeet-small grain rotations; and 4) improving ecosystem service provision in high-elevation grass/hay meadows. Norton is also 5) leading initiation of a state-wide soil health strategy for Wyoming and 6) is co-lead of WDC52;
- Jonathan Deenik (University of Hawaii): 1) works across soil mineralogical classes in south Pacific islands; 2) soil organic C alterations in south Pacific islands. Awarded NIFA grant in 2017 “Putting the farmer in the driver's seat: Integrative web tool for improved soil health and carbon assessment, monitoring, and planning” which has identified 11 soil health indicators suitable across range of mineralogy. The long-term goal is to engage and empower farmers and land managers to improve soil health and promote carbon sequestration through the implementation of an individualized, yet routine soil test and the development of an interactive web-based data and information management and planning tool. Awarded NIFA grant 2020 “An emergent soil health framework for agroecosystems in underrepresented tropical/subtropical islands or regions” with a framework that highlights 1) interlinkages among soil biological, chemical, and physical properties and 2) areas where further action is needed to improve agricultural practices across a wide diversity of soil types in tropical/subtropical islands or regions Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Pohnpei). Awarded USDA-CIG 2020 “Producer-driven implementation of Soil Health Management Systems adapted to diverse cropping systems in tropical and subtropical island regions.”;
- Deirdre Griffin Lahue (Washington State University): 1) specialty crops (e.g., wine grapes, potatoes, sweet corn, etc.) – soil indicators – yield; 2) biosolids land application (part of the Soil Health Institute North American Project);
- Tarah Sullivan (Washington State University): 1) various crops/varieties and their influence on soil microbial community structure and function; 2) pennycress;
- Zachary Kayler (University of Idaho): 1) Intercropping approaches to soil health; 2) Pacific northwest dairy operations and soil health; 3) watershed level studies of conservation agriculture; 4) no-till demonstration at WSU RJ Cook Agronomy farm;
- Jodi Johnson-Maynard (University of Idaho): 1) alternative cropping rotations under various precipitation regimes; 2) transitions to certified organic production agriculture; 3) appropriate soil health targets; 4) soil health research and training farm at the new University of Idaho Dairy center in southern Idaho;
- Markus Kleber (Oregon State University): 1) CASH-type soil health project focused on soil indicator scoring functions; 2) soil C storage;
- David Myrold (Oregon State University): 1) Can soil microbial communities be used to quantify soil health; 2) soil health of diverse agricultural systems (e.g., Christmas trees, vineyards, hazel nut orchards, perennial grass-seed, potatoes); 3) soil health in forested ecosystems;
- Sanjai Parikh (University of California, Davis): 1) biochar land applications; 2) amendment use to increase soil C storage across the state of California; 3) knowledge to policy at the state of California level; 4) project lead of the UC Davis Global Soil Health Portal (available at: http://soilhealth.ucdavis.edu/);
- Grant Cardon (Utah State University): 1) irrigated western US soils/salinity issues; 2) soil C accumulation under no-till grain production; 2) biosolids land application; 3) oil/gas pad reclamation; 4) orchard cropping systems;
- Matt Yost (Utah State University): 1) 10-16 approaches to water management, optimization; 2) previous experience with the Soil Health Partnership, their indicator database, and soil health tests for data correlation analyses; 3) cover crops and/or interseeding; 4) member of the State of Utah Soil Health Partnership;
- Clain Jones (Montana State University): 1) long-term cropping system by inorganic N fertilizer rate studies; 2) western US soil acidification issues;
- John Idowu (New Mexico State University): 1) numerous cropping systems, management, and land resources areas research, in conjunction with streamlining soil health indicators; 2) tillage management and short-term soil alterations; 3) soil amendments (e.g., pecan waste) and irrigation; 3) cover crop research; 4) weed control; 5) soil health and greenhouse gas emissions in dryland or irrigated systems; 5) halophytes;
- Bijesh Maharjan (University of Nebraska): 1) identifying the soil health gap (e.g., where agroecosystems are versus where they could be); 2) long-term agroecosystem research (part of the Soil Health Institute North American Project);
- Augustine Obour (Kansas State University): 1) grazing cover crops in dryland agroecosystems; 2) tillage or strategic tillage and crop rotations effect on soil properties; 3) Multi-state on-farm regenerative agriculture research across Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas;
- John Yang (Lincoln University, in Missouri): 1) soil remediation; 2) nano-particle soil applications; 3) leads a soil health program on campus;
- Frieda Eivazi (Lincoln University, in Missouri): 1) enzymatic indicators; 2) small farmers (1-10 acres), organic, no-till cover crops research; 3) cover crop termination timing within cropping rotations;
- Tunsisa Hurisso (Lincoln University, in Missouri): 1) soil indicators and multiple sources of variability; 2) biologically-active soil organic matter and agronomic outcomes; 3) cover crop-based no-till vegetable production systems; 4) cover cropping and rotational strategies in transitions to certified organic agriculture;
- Catherine Stewart (USDA-ARS, Fort Collins, Colorado): 1) soil C and C fractions, nutrient cycling; 2) crop residue management in no-till irrigated cropping systems; 3) manures, biochars, biosolids research;
- Shannon Capellazzi and Dr. Daniel Liptzin (Soil Health Institute): 1) North American project to evaluate soil health metrics; 2) soil health metrics with respect to management; 3) deep C pools project; 4) soil health targets; 5) economic analysis; 6) scalable suite of indicators to provide pertinent soil health information to producers, especially with respect to economic return.
Utilizing the strength of the above members and dozens of soil health projects, a multi-state research group will facilitate a coordinated regional effort to develop and evaluate soil health indicators using a sound, co-designed scientific approach that results in a minimum data set of indicators for each soil-climate-management system scenario. Meetings of representatives from western Land-Grant universities, state and federal agencies, and others will foster exchange of ideas and approaches, as well as collaborative sub-regional projects.
Related, Current and Previous Work
Multi-state Research Group Effort Objective 1: Identify best soil health management practices for western US agroecosystems or knowledge gaps that prevent identification. The premise behind this work is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses data, published and not, from evaluation of most or all production systems in the region.
Multi-state Research Group Effort Objective 2: Identify best soil health assessment approaches for western agroecosystems. The premise behind this objective is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses appropriate knowledge, experience, and data to evaluate proposed soil health indices and recommend minimum data set indicators/methods for western agroecosystems.
To our knowledge, there are currently no other groups who have combined efforts to monitor changes in soil health over time, at the regional scale, within the US, with respect to objectives 1 and 2. What makes this multi-state research effort unique is the fact that we are a large, regional group of soil scientists who agree upon the need for a coordinated regional approach for defining and assessing soil health. Furthermore, team members possess the knowledge and data to begin working together to address, at a minimum, objectives 1 and 2.
Currently, the closest research to that currently proposed is from the Soil Health Institute. The Soil Health institute (2020) recently published an introduction to their North American project to quantify soil health (Norris et al., 2020). The Soil Health Institute approach was to obtain a snapshot in time with respect to soil health at ~120 long-term (>10 years) research locations across North America. Members of the Soil Health Institute research team have shown that including organic amendments in agroecosystems: significantly increased the active soil C by ~12% on average (Liptzin, 2020); increasing soil organic C tended to increase microbial biomass (Norris, 2020); trended towards increasing total soil N, water-extractable organic N, and nitrogen cycling enzymatic activity, while only utilizing synthetic inputs reduced total soil N (Cappellazzi, 2020); and aggregate stability increased by 6 and 8% when determined by wet sieving or a wet soil stability index method, respectively (Greub, 2020). However, bulk density, saturated hydraulic conductivity, or available water holding capacity did not change due to organic amendment inputs (Bean, 2020).
Smaller-scale projects have studied soil health from long-term research (>50 years), or over watershed-scales, but again only present snapshots in time. For example, Karlen et al. (2014) evaluated soil health in five watersheds within Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Ohio, as affected by manure application. Soil sampling represented watershed varying in size from ~6,300 to 85,000 ha. Surface soil (0 to 5 cm) health tended to decrease with manure application due to decreases in water stable aggregates, increases in bulk density, and slight alterations in soil organic C. Stott et al. (2012) identified soil health alterations following five decades of various agricultural practices in a 340 ha watershed, including continuously cropped or bermudagrass with or without turkey litter additions. The snapshot in time results showed that: bermudagrass + turkey litter amended fields had the greatest physical soil attributes; all management practices showed similar soil chemical attributes; the continuously cropped, continuously cropped + turkey litter, and the bermudagrass + turkey litter treatments had the greatest soil nutrient attributes; and bermudagrass + turkey litter amended fields typically had the greatest soil biological attributes. Stott et al. (2011) identified differences between well and poorly developed corn (Zea mays L.) canopy within the Iowa River South Fork Watershed (~78,000 ha). The snapshot in time results showed that the soil health was generally lower under poor canopy development, likely due to lower soil health indicator scores for bulk density, pH, EC, SOC, and microbial biomass carbon.
In terms of potential overlap with this proposed multi-state research effort, several active committees mention soil health in project descriptions and objectives, but none focus on developing regionally coordinated assessment and implementation approaches. The most closely related existing committee may be NC1178: Land Use and Management Practice Impacts on Soil Carbon and Associated Agroecosystem Services, but its focus is on evaluating the effects of management practices on soil organic carbon and other impacts in the North Central region. NCERA3: Soil and Landscape Assessment, Function and Interpretation focuses on pedology and coordination with the National Cooperative Soil Survey in the North Central region. In the western region, there may be some membership overlap with WERA103: Nutrient Management and Water Quality, but the focus of that group is on extension education efforts, primarily about fertilizer management. Interaction and coordination with that group would be beneficial to their objectives and ours. W4170: Beneficial Use of Residuals to Improve Soil Health and Protect Public, and Ecosystem Health may also have some members that would be part of this group, which would benefit both, but the focus of W4170 is on use of industrial wastes or biproducts as soil amendments and is made up mostly of soil chemists.
We intend to tap into the accumulated experimental data and knowledge of the western US soil fertility/soil management community to identify science-based soil health management practices and assessment methods by addressing the following objecitves.
Identify best soil health management practices for western US agroecosystems or knowledge gaps that prevent identification.
Comments: The premise behind this objective is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses data, published and not, from evaluation of most or all production systems in the region. Specific tasks: i) All multi-state research group members agree upon and then compile data and metadata from studies of soil health across western agroecosystems to facilitate identification of soil health BMPs for western crop/soil/climate scenarios; ii) Implement a coordinated strategy to identify best soil health management and assessment approaches for western production systems.
Identify best soil health assessment approaches for western agroecosystems.
Comments: The premise behind this objective is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses appropriate knowledge, experience, and data to evaluate proposed soil health indices and recommend minimum data set indicators/methods for western agroecosystems. Specific tasks: i) Facilitate a coordinated regional effort to develop and evaluate soil health indicators using a sound, co-designed scientific approach that results in a minimum data set of indicators for each soil-climate-management system scenario; ii) Assess proposed indicators and lab methods (e.g., USDA-NRCS (Stott, 2019), Soil Health Institute tiers 1 and 2 (2020b), SMAF (Andrews et al., 2004), CASH (Cornell University, 2017) and rate them for suitability in western systems (i.e., conditions of inherently low SOM, salinity, etc.) using published literature, expert opinion, and the database compiled under objective 1. The database will eventually facilitate correlation of soil physical, chemical, and biological indicators and laboratory methods leading towards standardized methods for the western crop/soil/climate scenarios; and iii) create standardization by the multi-state research group with respect to soil health assessment protocol for proficiency testing.
Objective 1: Identify best soil health management practices for western US agroecosystems or knowledge gaps that prevent identification. The premise behind this work is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses data, published and not, from evaluation of most or all production systems in the region.
Specific tasks: i) All multi-state research group members agree upon and then compile data and metadata from studies of soil health across western agroecosystems to facilitate identification of soil health BMPs for western crop/soil/climate scenarios; ii) Implement a coordinated strategy to identify best soil health management and assessment approaches for western production systems; iii) utilize expert opinion of the group to rate the experiment-based certainty of recommendations.
We are interested in a science-based understanding of best soil health management practices for western US agroecosystems, and identifying soil health knowledge gaps that prevent identification. Our proposed definition of western agroecosystems is: Managed ecosystems (range, forest, and crop lands) of western North America, largely made up of aridic and ustic rainfed and irrigated crop, livestock, and integrated crop-livestock systems of the western Great Plains and intermountain basin ecoregions, but including udic and tropical environments of high-elevation mountain valleys, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and Pacific Islands.
In order to begin to understand what soil health principles and practices are working, or not, within the context of the western US, data collection and analyses must occur. To this end, several multi-state research group members will design a database template with input from all group members, and then share it via Google Docs or a similar sharing format so that members can upload data and metadata from soil health assessment projects across western agroecosystems. The multi-state research group members will consider what constitutes a good soil health indicator and method [e.g., i) soil health indicator effectiveness, ii) production readiness, iii) measurement repeatability, and iv) interpretable for agricultural management decisions; USDA-NRCS, 2019b]. Eventually the database will be critically reviewed by USDA-NRCS personnel and, hopefully, used by the NRCS. The multi-state research group will consider utilizing an Access database similar to that established by current WDC52 members, Drs. Markus Kleber and Shannon Capellazzi - the Oregon State University Soil Health Lab / Soil Health Institute, in conjunction with the NRCS in Oregon; Mr. Drew Childs, an Oregon State University undergraduate, greatly helped in database design. The current database contains several hundred sets of comprehensive soil health assessments following the Cornell CASH protocol. A multitude of queries can be made, with output color coded on a green (i.e., good) to red (i.e., poor) scale, in conjunction with a numbering scheme similar to CASH. The database currently is an academic tool, but can be modified to include multi-state research group aspirations. If utilized as a database starting point, additional information would be added to include site management, mineralogy, soil order/sub order, mineralogy class, cropping rotations, on-site management, etc., to allow database users greater options for indicator comparisons.
Objective 2: Identify best soil health assessment approaches for western agroecosystems. The premise behind this objective is that, collectively, the soil fertility/soil management/soil health community from the western US region possesses appropriate knowledge, experience, and data to evaluate proposed soil health indices and recommend minimum data set indicators/methods for western agroecosystems.
Specific tasks: i) Facilitate a coordinated regional effort to develop and evaluate soil health indicators using a sound, co-designed scientific approach that results in a minimum data set of indicators for each soil-climate-management system scenario; ii) Assess proposed indicators and lab methods (e.g., NRCS, Soil Health Institute tiers 1 and 2, SMAF, CASH) and rate them for suitability in western systems (i.e., conditions of inherently low SOM, salinity, etc.) using published literature, expert opinion, and the database compiled under objective 1. The database will eventually facilitate correlation of soil physical, chemical, and biological indicators and laboratory methods leading towards standardized methods for the western crop/soil/climate scenarios; and iii) create standardization by the multi-state research group with respect to soil health assessment protocol for proficiency testing..
Multi-state research group project leaders will facilitate virtual meetings to identify the full list of indicators and associated quantification methods and then form subgroups to evaluate subsets of the indicators. Subgroups will assess the proposed indicators and lab methods (e.g., USDA-NRCS (2019a), Soil Health Institute tiers 1 and 2 (2020b), SMAF (Andrews et al., 2004), CASH (Cornell University, 2017) and rate them for suitability in western systems (i.e., conditions of inherently low SOM, salinity, etc.) using published literature, expert opinion, all within the context of the compiled database.
Work on both objectives will begin upon project approval and should be complementary, with development of the database informing outcomes of Objective 2, while early outcomes of Objective 2 informing development of the database. We envision that combined outcomes will support: 1) standardized set of indicators and methods for each crop/soil/climate system; and 2) development or refinement of an assessment framework tailored to western agroecosystems.
Measurement of Progress and Results
- We will implement a coordinated strategy to identify best soil health management and assessment approaches for diverse western crop/soil/climate systems by developing a fully-encompassing soil health database as agreed upon by all group members.
- We will facilitate a coordinated regional effort to develop and evaluate soil health indicators using a sound, co-designed scientific approach that results in a minimum data set of indicators for each soil-climate-management system scenario. Comments: Knowledge gaps identified will contribute to future objectives for the multi-state research project.
- We envision that the database will also inform producers, soil lab operators, and consulting agronomists by establishing a west-wide overview of BMPs and best soil health assessment approaches for agroecological subregions.
- We will provide educational materials and guidance protocols for the establishment of laboratory proficiency testing sample development and processing to ensure uniform evaluation of laboratory performance and soil health measurement uniformity across the industry.
Outcomes or Projected Impacts
- State-of-knowledge about BMPs for each major crop/soil/climate system in the western region: a. Identification of benchmark soils for cropping systems and livestock systems with a rating of certainty and description of addition data needed; b. Description of most effective BMPs for each cropping system and livestock system with a rating of certainty and description of additional data needed.
- State-of-knowledge about best soil-health assessment methods for western crop/soil/climate systems: a. Review of long (e.g., as in Gavlak et al., 2005) and relatively short-term established physical, chemical and biological methods/properties (USDA-NRCS, Soil Health Institute, SMAF, CASH) for creation of sub-regional recommended minimum data sets and methods; and b. Create a soil health standardization protocol for assessment and comparison of laboratory performance on soil health measurements. One of the stated blocks to laboratories offering soil health analysis options to clients is the lack of proficiency testing samples and methodological standardization (Cardon et al., 2019). The impact to the soil testing industry of providing guidance on the development of proficiency testing samples coupled with the regional interpretation research under this project, is significant in two major ways: 1) it provides laboratories the base of confidence they need to broaden soil health analysis services and, 2) will ensure such services are more accessible and regionally appropriate to growers.
- Knowledge gaps described in these outcomes will form the bases of objectives for the next 5-year project.
Milestones(2022):Agree upon data to compile to allow for multiple means by which group members can “bin” the data for future use. Compile data and metadata from studies of soil health across western US agroecosystems. Begin assessing proposed indicators and lab methods, rating them for suitability in western US agroecosystems.
(2023):Continue compiling data and metadata from studies of soil health across western US agroecosystems.
(2024):Continue compiling data and metadata from studies of soil health across western US agroecosystems.
(2025):Continue assessing proposed indicators and lab methods, rating them for suitability in western US agroecosystems and begin development of laboratory standards for proficiency testing that can be used to asses lab performance on proposed, regionally appropriate soil health test methods. Continue adding data to database.
(2026):Complete assessing proposed indicators and lab methods, rating them for suitability in western US agroecosystems. Continue adding data to database. Continue development of proficiency testing samples.
Projected ParticipationView Appendix E: Participation
This multi-state research workgroup includes members from USDA-ARS and the Soil Health Institute. The group will create partnerships with the USDA-NRCS as well as public/private soil testing facilities that focus on soil health. Several group members are involved in soil health initiatives at their respective state levels (e.g., WY, CO, NM, UT, CA, HI, WA). Through direct participation in conferences, workshops, and webinar opportunities (e.g., those hosted by individual states, the USDA-NRCS, the Soil Health Institute, the Soil Health Partnership), research findings will be reported to industry cooperators and stakeholders. The group will publish collaborative soil health research available to industry and academic partners, publish findings in scientific journals and present at national and international meetings. We will participate in training sessions organized by local soil health programs and agencies to provide their members with relevant information from our workgroup. Regional level outreach activities will be organized during our annual meetings as well as at national/international conferences (e.g., ASA, SSSA, ACS, AGU).Our members who hold extension appointments (representing HI, WA, CO, MT, WY, UT, NM, NE, and MO) with help other members develop and provide educational programming including extension publications beneficial to educators, regulators, local government decision makers, the concerned public, other scientists, and stakeholders from entities that have a focus on soil health. We will continue to convey the science on the risks and benefits of soil health principles, practices, and cutting-edge research findings in written publications, field demonstrations, workshops, webinars, and direct interaction with stakeholders and clientele.
The multi-state research group technical committee will consist of project leaders from the contributing states, the administrative advisor, and NIFA representatives. Voting membership includes all persons with contributing projects; however, only one vote is permitted for each research location.
Co-chairpersons and one secretary, all from the western region, will be elected at the first authorized committee meeting after the proposed project has been accepted. The initially established co-chairpersons and secretary will serve multiple years, if so desired by project participants, and will be responsible for meeting arrangements, the annual reports, coordination of research activities, compilation of regional research data, and preparation of the renewal proposal. An Executive Committee, consisting of the co-chairs, the secretary, and the two regional representatives, will serve as a guidance body in matters such as new project participant additions and meeting agendas. In addition to the official project representatives, other researchers with activities that contribute to the project have been and will continue to be invited to participate on a regular basis.
Data privacy and confidentiality procedures. Objective 1 consists of sharing and compiling published and unpublished data on soil health. To ensure that data privacy, ownership, and confidentiality are maintained, the committee will draft and vote on a final agreement between all data contributors. The agreement will be created and amended by a majority vote of the committee membership. The agreement will include provisions related to these key points:
- All data submitted to a regional depository will be protected in a secure database that will not be available to the public. It will be available to all data contributors to conduct analyses.
- Data contributors will maintain rights and ownership of their data only.
- Data will not be published or shared outside the committee until all pertinent individual data owners give written consent (within 30 days of the request) to publish their data.
- Data owners will receive credit (authorship or acknowledgement as appropriate) when their data is published.
- Authorship criteria for publications derived from a regional soil health database will be outlined.
- Terms and criteria for intellectual or other property derived from the soil health database will be outlined.
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