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Indiana Receives Part of $20 Million Agriculture Research Grant

Indiana is among 12 states that will receive a combined $20 million dollars to improve soil health.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research announced Thursday it will partner with three agriculture agencies on the project. Among them are the Soil Health Partnership, Soil Health Institute and Nature Conservancy.

Soil is often lost from erosion or farming practices. The grant will help farmers find and implement ways to sustain soil health in the future.

Sally Rockey is the executive director of the Foundation. She says they’ve created practices like cover crops and no-till farming to help with soil health.

“So it’s not as if we’re starting from zero but we have a long way to go," Rockey says. "What this project is really trying to do is add some science to that so that we can more rapidly advance our abilities to have healthy soil.”

Rockey says it’s hard to say how much money will go directly to Indiana. But she says the state is at the center of the research.

Indiana is one of two states who will conduct a pilot program to look at people who own large amounts of land and how they implement soil health practices.

Nick Goeser is the director of the soil health partnership. He says soil health impacts consumers because when soil is depleted it produces less crops. This means shoppers see less variety and amount of produce.

“Ultimately this impacts the ability of our long-term food supply … it impacts us all because we are all reliant on food every day,” Goeser says.

Goeser says the partnership works hands-on with farmers to evaluate soil health measurements and create farming-friendly methods

“And it’s trying to figure out how can we put these all together in a win, win, win type package for our farmers, for our AG industry and for our consumers – broader public who are eating the food every day,” Goeser says.

Goeser says they currently have 30 sites across the state where they work with farmers. He says this grant will likely allow them to add additional sites.

Goeser says they expect to see positive improvements to soil health in the next three to five years.

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