Key Takeaways from the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research Soil Health and Water Quality Summit

Early this year, the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research (CIGLR) invited key scientists from universities, NGOs, state and federal agencies, and the private sector from the Great Lakes region to discuss the nexus between soil health and water quality in the agricultural landscape.

This past week, Delta Institute’s Programs Ecosystems Lead, Ryan Smith, attended the CIGLR Soil and Health and Water Quality Summit from July 16-18 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The summit focused on “Improving Models of Nutrient Loading and Harmful Algae Blooms through a Watershed-scale Approach that Emphasizes Soil Health and Upland Farming Practices.” Participants ranged from university professors, modelers, social scientists, agroecologists, conservationists, policy professionals, to farmers.  

“I am thrilled to work alongside these outstanding individuals on a topic that is near and dear to my heart,” said Smith. “I greatly look forward to our continued work together in the coming year.”

There has been a significant amount of work done on connecting water quality and soil health improvements to best management practices. In fact, a wide range of models has been developed in the water quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) space. These models can predict nutrient loading, as well as emission potentials and reductions, from management decisions that take place in the agricultural landscape. 

Delta Institute has been researching, dissecting, and using many models in our work to improve land stewardship across the Midwest. We champion the use of models for farmers who are dealing with local and global issues every day.

Conceptually, if farmers implement best management practices soil health may improve; however, there are few models that directly link soil health and water quality benefits.

Given the water quality concerns that we are facing across the country, and understanding that the agricultural industry plays a major role, it is imperative that we work hand-in-hand with the scientific community, agricultural stakeholders, practitioners, and farmers to improve soil health for more productive food systems and cleaner air and water.

“Delta Institute was very excited to be a part of this critical summit, and we look forward to the continued work and relationship with CIGLR, MEC and the other participants as we collaborate and take the next step towards improving environmental outcomes across the country,” said Bill Schleizer, CEO of Delta Institute. 

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