Today the Soil Renaissance and Phytobiomes Initiative announced announced a collaboration aimed at understanding how soil health and the broader phytobiomes in which plants exist impact food production for a growing population.
In December 2013, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation, NFP, launched the Soil Renaissance to bring attention to soil health’s critical role in feeding a global population that will increase from 7.5 billion people today to more than 9 billion by 2050. Likewise, the American Phytopathological Society (APS) recently initiated the Phytobiomes Initiative to understand the entire system of factors that affect crop plants, including living organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, insects, nematodes, etc.), soils and the environment.
“Soil and the plants that grow in it are the foundation of life. They work in unison to serve as the basis for all of life,” said Bill Buckner, president and CEO of the Noble Foundation. “It only makes sense then that the two major initiatives – one focused on soil, one focused on the entire biome (i.e., a geographical area) that impacts plants – should work together to solve the pressing problem of how to increase food production.”
“Just as the Soil Renaissance is bringing attention to the role of soil health in agricultural productivity, the Phytobiomes Initiative is focused on bringing attention, funding, and research coordination toward creating a whole system approach to improve quality and safety,” said Jan Leach, Ph.D., chair of the APS Public Policy Board and University Distinguished Professor at Colorado State University. “Our goal is to pull together diverse disciplines, societies, and policies to understand interactions among plants, animals, and the environment. The Phytobiomes Initiative promotes an examination of the entire system, not just the individual pieces.”