Hands holding soil, shovel in background.
IN THE SOIL Soil is one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. It also produces 95 percent of our food, filters our drinking water and reduces the impact of climate change. © Ron Nichols USDA NRCS


New Digital Tool Provides Scientific Data and Curated Insights on Conservation Farming Practices

‘AgEvidence’ is a comprehensive data platform derived from 40 years of peer-reviewed research about environmental impacts of agriculture practices.

Scientists from conservation and academic institutions have launched AgEvidence, a visualization dashboard of data from nearly 300 peer-reviewed research papers and curated expert insights derived from those studies. The research compiled in AgEvidence focuses on the environmental and agronomic impacts of cover crops, tillage management, pest management, and nutrient management practices used in growing corn and/or soybean crops in the Midwest. 

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AgEvidence was created by Lesley Atwood, Ph.D., and Stephen Wood, Ph.D., as part of the Managing Soil Carbon working group of the Science for Nature and People Partnership. SNAPP is a partnership of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“Because there’s so much science on this topic, different people and organizations can have different literature they refer to, which can lead to different conclusions about the evidence,” said Wood, a lead AgEvidence developer and a senior scientist of Agriculture and Food Systems for TNC’s Global Soil Science team. “With AgEvidence, we set out to build a comprehensive and easy-to-access data platform allowing for greater alignment among groups about the state of the evidence.”

With AgEvidence, we set out to build a comprehensive and easy-to-access data platform allowing for greater alignment among groups about the state of the evidence.

Stephen Wood, Ph.D. Senior Scientist, Agriculture and Food Systems, The Nature Conservancy

The AgEvidence development team assessed nearly 2,500 research studies dating back to 1980, from which they selected and collected data from nearly 300 studies that were deemed relevant. The resulting database includes over 16,500 data points. Visualization analytics enable users to easily navigate and interpret the data based on areas of interest, including climate mitigation, crop yields, pest management, soil nutrients, and water quality.

For users looking for quick answers to important questions, AgEvidence offers curated insights that use the data to answer a multitude of questions about the relationships between conservation agriculture practices and impacts to the environment. Users seeking to go beyond the curated insights can create their own, in-depth custom views of the data. 

Potential users of this data include university researchers investigating impacts of conservation agriculture practices on carbon sequestration or water quality; corporate social responsibility staff working in the agriculture supply chain who want to analyze how conservation practices could benefit their corporate sustainability goals; and conservation organizations working to advance conservation agriculture.

A free one-hour webinar is set for Friday, October 9, 2020 at 12 pm EDT for anyone interested in learning more about AgEvidence, its potential uses, and how to navigate the database visualization tool. Registration is required: http://nature.ly/AgEvidence.

The AgEvidence web platform was made possible by support from the Craig and Susan McCaw Foundation, Nestlé Purina, Walmart.org, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, and Amazon Web Services.

To learn more about AgEvidence and watch a tutorial video on navigating the site, visit nature.org/AgEvidence.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.