Soil Health Partnership Adds Two Field Managers

Illinois, Indiana staff additions aid expansion of data collection program

Published online: Dec 13, 2017 Articles
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Two new field managers have joined the Soil Health Partnership (SHP), a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Abigail Peterson and Alex Fiock will help manage the growing number of farmers enrolled in the program in Illinois and Indiana.

“As we have expanded to 111 farms in 12 states a year ahead of schedule, our need for additional staff has grown as well,” says SHP director Nick Goeser. “We welcome Abigail and Alex to the partnership and look forward to their expertise and enthusiasm.”

SHP field managers help new farmers get started in the program with identifying the practices that will work best for them to improve soil health on their farms, and assist with implementation, soil sampling and education. Common practices changed on the farm include the use of cover crops, conservation tillage and advanced nutrient management. Field managers also help organize, attend and offer presentations at field days. Their expertise and training are critical to the success of the long-term research to link economic and environmental gains.

Peterson, a certified crop advisor, will work in southern Illinois and joins current Illinois field manager Jim Isermann in working with more than 30 farmers enrolled in the state. She joins SHP after two years with DuPont Pioneer, and is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in agronomy.

“From a young age on our farm, my dad always tried to show me that the time and care we put into our soil is just as important as the crop we take off,” says Peterson. “There are many differences in soil type and farming operations that require different solutions for soil improvement. I am excited to get started.”

Fiock will manage northern Indiana. He grew up in Bluffton, Ind., with a love of farming, fostered by his grandfather. He joins current Indiana field manager Hans Kok in helping with the 30 SHP farmers in Indiana. Prior to joining the partnership, he worked in seed sales, covering 15 Indiana counties. A graduate of Purdue University, Fiock majored in natural resource environmental science with a focus in agronomy and soil science. He will continue to help with his family’s farming operation in Bluffton.

“I have always been interested in soil health, and was an active participant and fan of soil judging growing up in FFA,” Fiock says. “I took that love to college, really focused in on soil science and how management practices can positively affect our yields on the farm.”

An initiative of the National Corn Growers Association, the Soil Health Partnership is a data-driven program working to quantify the benefits of practices that support soil health from both an economic and environmental standpoint.