Georgina Smith/CIAT

Innovations in soil health monitoring for nature and people

Research to resilience: Climate-smart solutions to enhance ecosystem health and strengthen food, nutrition and water security for all

Recent decades have seen growing recognition of the vital roles performed by healthy soils – not just in crop production, but in human health, biodiversity, the provision of ecosystem services and carbon sequestration. The challenge now is to ensure that soil monitoring frameworks fully capture this multifunctionality of soil health while remaining robust, reliable, rapid and affordable.

‘Innovations in soil health monitoring for nature and people,’ the eighth and final webinar in WLE’s ‘Research to resilience’ series, showcased recent advances in soil health monitoring and land restoration efforts. Through presentations and a far-ranging panel discussion – featuring the renowned soil scientist and 2020 World Food Prize laureate, Dr Rattan Lal – the hour-long session explored ways to improve monitoring approaches, bridge the science–policy divide, and overcome barriers to the scaling and adoption of healthy soil practices.

Key messages from the webinar included:

  • Investment in soil health research and soil management is critical to maintain the foundations of our food systems – water, biodiversity and crops – while increasing resilience to climate change.
  • Soil health monitoring frameworks must be reliable and affordable if we are to evaluate the effectiveness of soil management strategies in improving productivity, ecosystem services and climate resilience.
  • Soil scientists must work with policy makers, members of the public and farmers to make the importance of soil health understandable and relatable.

Speakers and Panelists

View speaker biographies


Opening remarks

Dr Brent Swallow, Professor of Agricultural and Environmental Economics, University of Alberta, Canada

  • Dr Job Kihara, Agronomist, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT
  • Dr Leigh Ann Winowiecki, Co-Leader of Restoring Degraded Landscapes research theme, WLE (CIFOR-ICRAF)
  • Dr Rattan Lal, 2020 World Food Prize Laureate & Director, Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, Ohio State University
  • Mr Paul Luu, Executive Secretary, “4 per 1000” Initiative (4p1000)
  • Ms Viridiana Alcantara-Shivapatham, Senior Program Officer, Agriculture Innovations, Verra
  • Dr Ermias Betemariam, Land Health Scientist, CIFOR-ICRAF & UNCCD Science–Policy Interface Member
  • Dr Wei Zhang, Senior Research Fellow, Environment and Production Technology Division, IFPRI

Dr Marcela Quintero, Co-Leader of Restoring Degraded Landscapes research theme, WLE (Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT)


Agronomic advances for understanding soil health (Job Kihara, Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT)

Innovations in Soil Health Monitoring: Combining Systematic Field Assessments with Spectroscopy and Earth Observation (Leigh Ann Winowiecki, WLE/CIFOR-ICRAF)



Upcoming events

Register for the soil health event at COP26: From the ground up: soil health for climate change mitigation, resilience and food system transformation (WWF Panda Pavilion)


View the full 'From Research to Resilience' webinar series