Dr. Kris Nichols
Soil science courses, forty years ago, left students with the notion of soil as an inert substrate, hosting little more than chemical reactions, into which roots of our preferred crops are anchored. Kris Nichols is amongst a vanguard of soil scientists who have more recently revealed the myriad biological life forms underfoot. She argues for a whole systems approach to regenerate our soils, in which macro and microscopic organisms – from humans to bacteria, grazing animals to fungi, and insects to amoeba – are cycling energy and resources. She will not shy from criticizing organic practices that detract from this whole.
Raised on a Minnesota farm, Kris Nichols earned her Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003, and served as Research Soil Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service for a decade, focusing her investigations on arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi. Dr. Nichols has since served as Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute where she oversaw research trials on organic agriculture, including their Farming Systems Trial, the longest-running U.S. study comparing conventional agriculture with organic methods. She is the founder and principal scientist of KRIS Systems Education & Consultation, where she builds upon a soil health foundation to identify biological methods for agricultural production.
Dr. John Reganold
Certified Organic production has advanced significantly over four decades, delivering good commercial yields while enhancing the agro-ecosystems in which organic foods are grown. However, might our organic community hold an outsized view of these accomplishments and their applicability in feeding 7 billion humans? John Reganold has assessed our global foodscape, which between crops and livestock commands some 40% of the planet’s dry land surface. He concludes that a comingling of innovative farming systems will be required to aspire to global food and ecosystem security in the 21st century. How can research and production communities meet this challenge? What is your role?
John Reganold’s passion for soil science and agriculture shaped an extraordinary career, beginning with a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of California at Davis. He is currently Regents Professor of Soil Science and Agroecology at Washington State University, the first US institution of higher learning to offer a degree in organic agriculture. He has devoted 30-plus years to blending innovative teaching and research on soil quality and sustainable farming systems into the mainstream of higher education and food production. Dr. Reganold has published extensively in scientific journals, magazines, and books, including Science, Nature, and Scientific American.