The Minnesota Office for Soil Health works towards healthy farms and ecosystems by delivering soil education, promoting grower networks, and researching best practices.
The Minnesota Office for Soil Health was formed in 2017, as a collaboration between the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the University of Minnesota Water Resources Center. Our mission is to protect and improve soil resources and water quality by developing the knowledge, skills and abilities of local experts to more effectively promote sustainable soil and land management.
Ann Lewandowski, Coordinator; Dr. Anna Cates, State Soil Health Specialist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Soil, Water, and Climate; Dr. Lucy Levers, Economist; Dana Wilson, Senior Communications Specialist.
MOSH is advised by a leadership team including representatives from the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and the Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources. As we work to deliver research-based recommendations on soil health practices specific to Minnesota, we rely on cooperation with farmer organizations, agriculture industry, state agencies, and especially local staff of UMN-Extension, Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and NRCS.
Building local capacity
MOSH partnered with University of Minnesota Extension to present the 2020 Soil Management Summit on December 15-16, 2020.
Between 2019 and 2020, Dr. Cates presented two dozen talks on soil health topics at events around the state, including helping to plan and deliver the NRCS Basics of Soil Health course that reached about 130 NRCS and SWCD employees.
Since the start of the pandemic, Dr. Cates has continued with remote presentations including “Fridays on the Farm” and BWSR Tech Talks in July and August.
Dr. Cates contributed to about 10 blog posts or podcasts for UMN Crop News and the UMN Extension Nutrient Management Podcast, plus a couple radio spots. Some of the blog posts have been reprinted in ag media.
Stimulating research and development
MOSH brings in external funding to support research and development of resources for field staff.
Development projects include the Minnesota Cover Crop Guide highlighting state-specific research, and leading the Minnesota update of the Midwest Cover Crop Council cover crop selection tool.
The centerpiece of MOSH research is a three-year soil health NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant project aimed at developing a better understanding of how our cold climate soils respond to soil health management systems.
Dr. Cates is collaborating with several University researchers to incorporate soil health into their studies of irrigation, drainage, manure, grassland management, and more.
This year MOSH launched a virtual presence in the form of a new website which features a calendar of events hosted by public and private entities across the state. The site summarizes basic science of soil health and links to more in-depth resources.
MOSH convened diverse interests at a Stakeholder Forum in April 2019 and a Soil Health Economics Forum in April 2020.
MOSH collaborates with a wide variety of public and private partners across the state, regularly convenes local government and extension staff to discuss soil health issues, and is engaged with regional and national soil health organizations.
Keep up with the latest activity, news and events in the soil health community by following MOSH on Twitter.