A Vision for the Second Green Revolution
Posted 8th December 2017 by Jane Williams
There is a Second Green Revolution underway that is harnessing precision agriculture, no-till farming practices, biological, rather than chemical crop inputs and other new, innovative tools that improve soil health and water quality.
Decades of fertilizers and herbicides have produced a deteriorated soil that is bereft of nutrients and doesn’t retain water. Healthy soil should have 25,000 microorganisms per gram, and a balance of bacteria, yeast and fungi.
In this new wave for agriculture, the focus will be on soil health: how to restore soils to serve their original purpose of efficiently delivering nutrients to plants to improve yields, retain water for drought resistance, store carbon to reduce the effects of climate change, purify groundwater, and help crops to naturally resist disease.
We in agriculture technology depend on new understandings about soil to further our work. The term “soil health” has been accused of being a vague goal with no scientific basis. The Soil Health Initiative (SHI), established in 2013 by the Noble Research Institute and Farm Foundation, is leading the way in changing that perception by publishing a white paper that defines the characteristics of healthy soil. Its list of 19 “Tier 1” soil health indicators is based on three years of input from scientists, conservationists and growers. Growers can use these measurements to analyze their soil, and companies, such as Inocucor, can use them to test their products.
Growers will not use products unless they show clear, consistent results and are backed by science and replicated field trials. That’s why growers are an important ally in the Second Green Revolution. Growers today are increasingly college-educated and eager to try new, greener solutions. They see chemicals coming under fire from consumers and regulators. They know that healthy soil is a farming necessity and they are aware that ag biologicals cost less than synthetic chemicals. But all of that knowledge means nothing if the biological inputs are not proven to be reliable in the field.
The Second Green Revolution is going to depend on ideas from a new generation of scientists who will take a more holistic view of agriculture. Working in agri-tech means developing cutting-edge science while supporting the mission to feed a hungry world population and restore our natural resources. Attracting top-notch talent has become competitive, but the rewards are potentially great for those who pursue this career path. Millennial scientists and tech innovators want to change the world, and this is a concrete way they can work toward that goal.
Donald R. Marvin spoke at Partnerships in Biocontrol, Biostimulants & Microbiome Congress: Europe.
Donald R. Marvin has been a biotechnology entrepreneur in the commercialization of new life sciences, diagnostic and research technologies and products for more than 30 years. He has been President and CEO of Inocucor, which produces biological crop inputs, since 2014.
Inocucor is an agri-tech company that develops powerful natural biological products for agriculture targeting the phyto-microbiome–the seeds, plants, root systems and the soil surrounding them. Inocucor’s first-generation product, Synergro®, employs live microbes to actively improve the health of the entire phyto-microbiome. Its second product, Synergro Free™ and future generations of Inocucor products are powerful biological formulations for bio-stimulation and bio-control targeting high-value crops and mainstream production agriculture.
The Language of Soil Health, https://groundwork.ag/groundswell/the-language-of-soil-health