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:
Challenges of Industrial Hemp Production
Industrial hemp has been bred based upon traits such as fiber strength, yield and oil quality and is distinct from marijuana in that the THC concentration (the principal psychoactive agent) is less than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Approximately 75% of the world’s supply of hemp for fiber originates in China, while a large portion of hemp used for seed and oil is imported from Canada. U.S. hemp imports exceeded $38.5 million in 2013. The value of all hemp-based products (food, body products, auto parts, clothing etc.,) exceeds nearly $581 million annually in the U.S. The Farm Bill of 2014 as amended in 2015 provided that research institutions and state departments of agriculture can grow industrial hemp, as part of an agricultural pilot program, if the program is allowed under state laws where the institutions are located. The past legal status of hemp and difficulties in obtaining certified seed have resulted in a knowledge gap on agricultural production practices. The changing legal environment could lead to new industries and spur economic development in rural areas, but research is needed on the farm and throughout the supply chain planning process to ensure sustainable production. We will cover our experiences with the entire process from obtaining the seed to considerations of final products and outline our perspectives on needs in terms of the future of hemp production.
Improving the U.S. Economy By Adding Fiber, Dr. Ron Turco and Dr. Janna Beckerman, Purdue University
Soils, Vines & Wines
The Congressional Soils Caucus in conjunction with the Congressional Wine Caucus, The Wine Institute, UC Davis, Oregon State University and Washington State University organized the second annual Soils, Vines and Wines Congressional reception. SSSA President, Carolyn Olson, welcomed the more than 300 attendees, including 20 members of Congress. Students and faculty from all three schools 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 informational one-pagers.
Save Our Citrus
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Presentations from Reclamation briefing:
- 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
From 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.
Presentations from Brownfields and Urban Ag:
Nutrient 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.
Presentations from Nutrient Management and the Chesapeake Bay:
Farming 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.