Educational Briefings

The CSCA helps organize briefings for the caucus on a variety of soil issues.  All briefing topics are chosen by members of the caucus and are pertinent to new legislation or current issues. For each briefing the CSCA helps create a one-pager, which  is a one page informational sheet that outlines important information on the briefing topic. Below is a list of past briefings:

Save Our Citrus

Raj Khosla

On July 23, 2015, congress got an inside look into America's iconic citrus industry and the people who are working to save it from citrus greening. Dr. Jim Graham, Professor of Soil Microbiology at University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Citrus Research and Education Center spoke about the history and science of the Huanglongbing “Yellow Shoot Disease”(HLB), also known as Citrus Greening, and the economic impact of the disease in Florida. Dr. Georgios Vidalakis, Extension specialist, plant pathologist and the director of the Citrus Clonal Protection Program (CCPP)at University of California at Riverside spoke about how California has managed to prevent HLB from spreading to commercial growers and compared how the United States is managing the disease compared to other countries. Dr. Mary Palm, from USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) National Coordinator for Citrus Pest Programs spoke about how the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP) is bringing together federal and state governments, industry, and scientists to put practical tools and solutions into the hands of producers, allowing them to remain productive while longer term solutions are developed to combat HLB.


The Florida Experience and Lessons Learned, Dr. Jim Graham

US Congressional Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), Dr. Georgios Vidalakis

Citrus Health Response Program, Dr. Mary Palm


A Case For Soil Health

Raj Khosla

Improving soil health on our nation’s agricultural lands allows farmers and ranchers to simultaneously improve water quality, increase soil water availability, enhance resilience to extreme weather, enhance nutrient cycling, increase carbon sequestration, provide wildlife habitat (including pollinators), enhance rural economic opportunity, and meet the food production needs of a rapidly growing population on a shrinking available land base. Efforts to improve soil health will thus provide significant return on the nation’s conservation investment. The new NRCS Soil Health Division was initiated to leverage resources, skills, technology, and partnerships nationally to facilitate increased implementation of science-based, effective, economically viable soil health management systems on the nation’s diverse agricultural lands. The division’s goals include designing soil health technical training and education to stakeholders, standardizing and increasing the use of publicly available soil health testing, and guiding soil health management planning to facilitate implementation and long-term adoption on our nation’s agricultural lands.



A Case for Soil Health – Opportunities to Change the Face of Agriculture and How We Feed Our Nation

Bianca Moebius-Clune, Ph.D., directs the new NRCS Soil Health Division that is being stood up to incentivize and facilitate science-based, effective, economically viable soil health management on our nations agricultural lands. She came to the agency from Cornell University where her applied research, extension, and teaching addressed agricultural management impacts on, and approaches to managing, soil health and nitrogen dynamics. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of New Hampshire, and Masters and PhD degrees from Cornell University, all in soil science.

More information and pictures at the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research.


Deconstructing Precision Agriculture

Raj Khosla

Think Moon landing. Think Internet. Think iPhone and Google. Think bigger. On March 4, 2015, U.S. farmers, leading agriculture technology companies, and scientists came to Washington, DC to tell how they work together to fuel U.S. innovation and the economy to solve this global challenge. The event exhibited three essential technologies of precision agriculture that originated from a broad spectrum of federally funded science: Guidance Systems and GPS, Data & Mapping with GIS, and Sensors and Robotics.

Materials and Press

Global Positioning System (GPS) and Atomic Clocks

Data, Computation, and Mapping: The invention of the Geographic Information System (GIS)

Sensors, Robots, and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)

Agriculture Finds Gold In Government’s Technology Innovations, By: Paul Schrimpf, March 10, 2015


Raj Khosla, Professor of Precision Agriculture at Colorado State University


David Hula, of Renwood Farms in Jamestown, Virginia

Rod Weimer, of Fagerberg Produce in Eaton, Colorado

Del Unger, of Del Unger Farms near Carlisle, Indiana


Mark Harrington, Vice President of Trimble

Carl J. Williams, Chief of the Quantum Measurement Division at NIST

William ‘Bill’ Raun, Professor at Oklahoma State University

Marvin Stone, Emeritus Professor at Oklahoma State University

J. Alex Thomasson, Professor at Texas A&M University

Dave Gebhardt, Director of Data and Technology at Land O'Lakes/WinField

Shashi Shekhar, Professor at the University of Minnesota


Soils, Vines and Wines

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Congressional Soils Caucus in conjunction with the Congressional Wine Caucus, the Wine Institute and the University of California-Davis organized a congressional reception called, Soils, Vines and Wines. SSSA President, Jan Hopmans, welcomed the more than 300 attendees, including a dozen members of Congress. Five graduate students from UC-Davis presented information on the connection between soil and wine to members of Congress and their staff. See photos from the event here. See below for the reception informational one-pagers.

Cabernet Sauvignon


Petite Syrah

Pinot Noir

Sauvignon Blanc


Reclaiming Energy's Footprint: Restoring the Land After Coal, Oil & Gas Development


The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), in conjunction with the Congressional Soils Caucus and the Congressional Western Caucus, hosted a Congressional briefing entitled: Reclaiming Energy's Footprint: Restoring the Land After Coal, Oil & Gas Development. Panelists explained how land reclamation practices ensure that the impacts to the environment from energy development will be held to a minimum and that land will be returned to a condition where its productivity and capabilities are similar to those which existed prior to mining or drilling. Read the briefing press release here.

View Land Reclamation one-page summary (PDF) >>(PDF)

Presentations from Reclamation briefing:

James Deutsch, Director of the Reclamation and Abandoned Mine Land Divisions for the North Dakota Public Service Commission

Peter Stahl, Director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center and Professor at the University of Wyoming


  • David Hula, of Renwood Farms in Jamestown, Virginia
    Rod Weimer, of Fagerberg Produce in Eaton, Colorado
    Del Unger, of Del Unger Farms near Carlisle, Indiana

urban brownfieldsFrom Vacant Lots to Vegetable Plots: Converting Brownfields to Urban Wealth

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), in conjunction with the U.S. House of Representatives Urban Caucus, hosted a Congressional briefing entitled: From Vacant Lots to Vegetable Plots: Converting Brownfields to Urban Wealth. Panelists explained how Brownfields can be converted into urban farms and gardens to provide social, economic, and health benefits for the community. Read the briefing press release here.

View Brownfields & Urban Ag one-page summary (PDF) >>(PDF)


Presentations from Brownfields and Urban Ag:

Joe Schilling, the Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech University, Alexandria Campus

Art McCabe, Manager, Community Development Department, City of Lawrence, MA

Anne Palmer, Program Director, Food Communities and Public Health, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, Bloomberg School of Public Health


NutrientNutrient Management and the Chesapeake Bay

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Council on Food, Agricultural and Resouce Economics (C-FARE), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) hosted a briefing titled: Nutrient Management & the Chesapeake Bay Experience: Economic and Environmental Considerations. Notable experts presented on the topic, including University of Maryland Soil Scientist and ASA-SSSA member Josh McGrath, Pennsylvania Certified Crop Adviser Eric Rosenbaum, Penn State University Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics Dr. James Shortle, and Southeastern Pennsylvania dairy and chicken farm operator Luke Brubaker.

View Nutrient Management one-page summary (PDF) >>(PDF)

Presentations from Nutrient Management and the Chesapeake Bay:

Luke Brubaker, Owner and Operator of Brubaker Farms

Josh McGrath, Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management Specialist

Eric Rosenbaum, Certified Crop Advisor and Owner of Rosetree Consulting

James Shortle, Distinguished Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics, Penn State


floodFarming after the Flood Briefing

The American Society of Agronomy (ASA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) sponsored a Congressional educational briefing, “Farming after the Flood”, on October 26th. The briefing focused on the impacts, mitigation approaches, and costs related to farmland flooding. Three speakers provided information on these main aspects of flooding; they were Scott Olson, a farmer from Tekamah, NE; John Wilson, an extension educator with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension; and James Callan, a crop insurance consultant.

Presentations from Farming after the Flood:

View Scott Olson's Presentation: The 2011 Missouri River Flood: One Farmer's Story Part 1

View Scott Olson's Presentation: The 2011 Missouri River Flood: One Farmer's Story Part 2

View John Wilson's Presentation: Farming after the Flood

View James Callan's Presentation: Federal Crop Insurance Program


urban ag

Bringing Urban Agriculture to Life: A Story of Revitalizing Leadership, Health, and Soil in Urban Communities

The American Society for Nutrition (ASN), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and the Council on Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics (C-FARE) sponsored Bringing Urban Agriculture to Life, on Monday, May 9. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 250 million hungry individuals live in cities. These residents often rely on food sources that originate far beyond the city limits. However, urban agriculture programs, which cultivate, process, and distribute food in or around metropolitan areas, are now cropping-up across the United States. Urban agriculture increases the access that residents have to fresh fruits and vegetables, providing better nutritional options for city-dwellers and influencing food security. While there are numerous advantages associated with urban agriculture, for there to be economic or nutritional benefits, program management must result in sufficient crop yield and empower urban farmers. By integrating materials and resources available to improve soil fertility and tilth into urban agricultural programs, assisting with land tenure issues, and increasing access to micro-lending, municipalities can positively impact the health and well-being of their residents.

View the Bringing Urban Agriculture to Life one-page summary (PDF)>>(PDF)


post wildfire managementWildfire Briefing

Wildfires have shaped plant communities and soils for as long as vegetation and lightning have existed on earth. Flora, fauna and soil native to a given ecosystem are adapted to the historic range of variation in the fire regime for that system. To adequately assess the impact of these disturbances, more integrated research on wildfires is needed.

View Post Wildfire Management one-page summary (PDF)>> (PDF)




climage change Climate and Agriculture: Food and Farming in a Changing Climate

On Wednesday, June 16, 2010,  the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), and Council on Food, Agricultural and Resource Economics (C-FARE) sponsored two congressional briefings on agricultural adaptation to climate change. At the briefings, experts stated that cropping systems may require a more diverse array of crops to help communities adapt to warmer temperatures, unexpected cold snaps, heavy rainfall, drought, and other extremes. Changing rainfall patterns and intensities, air temperatures, and cropping seasons will require adapting traditional agricultural systems to a new climate, creating new production opportunities and challenges.

 View Climate and Agriculture: Food and Farming in a Changing Climate one-pager (PDF)>>(PDF)

The Essence of Earth and Wine: Terroir

The Essence of Earth and Wine: Terroir

In this briefing, James Fisher, a soil scientist of Soil Solutions LLC, explained the criteria used by vineyards to choose the best sites for wine grape production. Then, Soil scientist John Havlin of North Carolina State University, addressed soil nutrient management techniques specific to wine grape production. The concept of terroir was developed in France centuries ago. A "terroir" is a wine grape production region, sharing a similar landscape, soil type, climate, grapes, vine management, and wine making tradition, which combine to provide a unique set of wine characteristics. Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (South Dakota At-Large), a member of the House Agriculture Committee and Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming kicked off the event.



nut manageNutrient Management Briefing

A Nutrient Management Plan (NMP) defines the nutrient needs of crops, and how best to provide the amount, sources, placement and timing of nutrient applications to maximize plant uptake, and improve yield. Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) and Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAgs), both certified by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA) through meeting exam, education, experience and ethics standards, work closely with producers to develop NMPs that estimate nutrient needs based on yield goals, while minimizing environmental risk.

carbon farming

Carbon Farming Briefing

Agricultural land in the U.S. has the capacity to sequester about 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year, offsetting up to 11 % of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually (Lal et al., 2003). Farmers, ranchers, and foresters, implementing best management practices (BMPs) such as cover crops, no-tillage, and nutrient management, play an important role in sequestering carbon.


View 2006 Carbon Farming one-pager (PDF)>>(PDF)
View 2009 Carbon Farming one-pager (PDF)>>(PDF)


Bio-energy Briefing

Greater demands are being placed on soils as we continue food and feedstock production and expand the use of soils for biofuel production. Failure to maintain this vital natural resource will jeopardize food and feedstock production, biomass production, grower profitability, water quality, ecological longevity, and environmental health. A major challenge will be to sustain soil quality while increasing biomass production.

View Bioeconomy one-pager (PDF)>>(PDF)