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After 75 Years, Noble Research Institute Changes Focus To Regenerative Agriculture

Noble Research Institute
Researchers, educators and consultants from Noble Research Institute recently met in the field to learn more about soil health and regenerative agriculture from Understanding Ag, LLC.

The Noble Research Institute is changing its focus from plant science to regenerative agriculture.

The institute was started in 1945, by Lloyd Noble as a way to revitalize the agriculture industry following the dust bowl. Now, the institute has 350 employees, and a budget of $60 million. About 130 employees focus on research which is largely based in plant science.

Noble Institute CEO Steve Rhines says the new shift gives the institute more of a focus, and aligns with the vision of founder Lloyd Noble. Through a series of written speeches, Rhine says his goals were clear.

“There are two things that resonate: Take care of the soil, and make it better, and work with farmers and ranchers to do that,” Rhines says. “And so when we begin to say what should be our focal point, we can always start back with the founder.”

The institute will be working with 14,000 acres of land to test regenerative agriculture practices. Rhines says the institute’s priorities include: measuring the progress of soil health, transitioning into regenerative agriculture, increasing biodiversity on the land and livestock adaptability.

The plant science efforts will wrap up around the middle of this year, but there have been no layoffs from the shift in priority, Rhines says. Many scientists will have to make a transition, he says.

“For some scientists, as you can envision, they're a plant scientist. They have to make a bit of a decision,” Rhines says. “Am I comfortable putting my traditional career on the shelf, to now work with farmers and ranchers in the field on a landscape scale instead of a laboratory scale?”


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Seth Bodine was KOSU's agriculture and rural issues reporter from June 2020 to February 2022.
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