Putting Numbers To Land Stewardship
In 2018, Noble Research Institute launched a land stewardship pilot project to gather data on four management areas: ecological efficiency, production efficiency, soil resource management and water resource management. For the pilot project, Noble consultants enlisted the help of 14 producers, seven in Texas and seven in Oklahoma, who collectively manage 42,866 acres.
Land Stewardship Program
Jeff Goodwin, conservation stewardship leader and ag consultant.
The Land Stewardship Program is intended to provide producers with a process to quantify economic and ecological return on investment from managing land with a stewardship-based ethic. The program will give producers critical information to help them make timely decisions within their current enterprises as well as a mechanism to help them fully understand the value of their ecological contributions to society.
The foundation of this effort is enabling producers to be better land stewards. Having the right information is the key to making the best possible decisions. The program will provide participants a user dashboard that translates their site-specific ecological metrics into useable information critical for outcome-based management. Additionally, this data can be used to track stewardship progress over time.
The functionality of ecological processes, such as the carbon and water cycles, often determine ecological health on agricultural lands.
Production efficiencies outline the relative amount of production balanced by the amount of biological capital utilized.
Soil Resource Management
Soil organic carbon has impacts across the ecological spectrum and can be used to quantify measures of biologically active and properly functioning ecosystems.
Water Resource Management
Soil and water resource management are principal to the success of any ecologically focused stewardship effort.
“Land stewardship starts beneath the ground with the intricate web of bacteria sequestering carbon, filtering and purifying water. When the soil is healthy, your grass is healthy and then your cows are healthy.
“Plowing the land destroys that network. The idea of building the soil and that community is No. 1. That mentality is what Noble has given to me.”
— Meredith Ellis
Land Stewardship Program pilot project participant