ARDMORE, Okla. — When philanthropist Lloyd Noble established the Noble Research Institute, he focused the new nonprofit organization's mission on the soil, saying: "No civilization has outlived the usefulness of its soils. When the soil is destroyed, the nation is gone."
Today, the Noble Research Institute announces the launch of the Noble Land Stewardship Program as part of a seven-decade-long effort to support farmers, ranchers and land managers, the guardians of the soil.
"The agriculture industry is poised for land stewardship solutions," said Bill Buckner, Noble Research Institute CEO and president. "No organization is better suited to help meet these industry-wide challenges than the Noble Research Institute."
The Noble Land Stewardship Program is designed to quantify the ecologic and economic benefits of managing land with a stewardship ethic as a focus. The program will provide producers with 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 (called ecosystem services). This program then positions producers to participate in ecosystem services markets as they arise.
"Managing landscapes based on land stewardship principles provides benefits that impact every single consumer and society at large, from cleaner water to sequestered carbon," said Jeff Goodwin, Noble Research Institute conservation stewardship lead and a pasture and range consultant. "The key is quantifying, verifying and subsequently valuing and marketing these metrics for our producers."
The Noble Land Stewardship Program will provide farmers and ranchers with critical information that outlines the financial value of managing as a land steward. To collect this data, Noble has launched a pilot program to gather data on four management areas: ecological efficiency, production efficiency, soil resource management and water resource management.
Noble's agricultural consultants have enlisted the help of 12 producers, six in Oklahoma and six in Texas, to begin testing the program. The ultimate goal is the creation of a market where land stewards receive performance-based economic benefit for measured ecological outcomes.
"Today, agricultural producers are recognized for producing two ecosystem services – food and fiber – but they produce many more services that benefit our growing population. It's time to tell the rest of the story," Goodwin said.