Kansas senator honored with soil stewardship award


Washington, D.C. -- A long-time champion for agriculture, research, and the United States’ soil resources, Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, will be presented today (Mar. 18) with the 2013 Excellence in Soil Stewardship Award by the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA). The award recognizes policy makers whose exemplary leadership has strengthened the U.S. agricultural enterprise and the natural resources that support it.

A fourth generation Kansan who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1996, Roberts possesses an exceptional understanding of the value that the soil resource provides not only to agriculture, but also to every citizen, says Kansas State University agronomy professor, Gary Pierzynski, a past president of SSSA.

“Senator Roberts has been influential in crafting legislation and policy that protects our soils, with great appreciation for the long-term benefits of such actions over short-term gains,” Pierzynski says. “He is receiving this award because of his advocacy for soil as a resource that supports the livelihood of every U.S. citizen, through contributions to food production, aesthetics and recreation, and ecosystem services.”

Roberts, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, is also an especially strong champion of agricultural research. In 2012, he introduced legislation to establish a foundation that will solicit private donations to enhance agricultural research at a time of dwindling federal support. Known as the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the new enterprise (if passed into law) will fund studies that address U.S agriculture’s most pressing challenge: the exploding global demand for food.

Similarly, when it became clear that greater insight was needed into the relationship between soil, agriculture, and atmospheric carbon dioxide, Roberts sponsored significant funding for such studies, says Chuck Rice, a Kansas State soil microbiology professor and another past SSSA president. The work has since revealed the positive role soil carbon storage can play in lessening carbon dioxide levels while also benefiting soil conservation and agriculture.

And in his home state, Roberts is further known for his commitment to increasing Kansas' investment in math, science and technology, urging schools and universities to remain highly competitive by investing in research infrastructure. Says Rice: “Senator Roberts continued support for research is crucial for soil science and the future of agriculture.”

In 2002, Roberts was named an honorary Certified Crop Adviser (CCA) by the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), SSSA’s sister scientific society (along with the Crop Science Society of America) in Madison, WI.

Roberts will receive the 2013 soil stewardship award from Joshua Jennings, a Kansas State University graduate student, in a ceremony attended by scientists, CCAs, and graduate students in the fields of agronomy, crop, and soil science from around the country. The group is in town to build support for federally funded agricultural research during Congressional Visits Day on Mar. 19.

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based inMadison,WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

SSSA supports its members by providing quality research-based publications, educational programs, certifications, and science policy initiatives via a Washington, DC, office. Founded in 1936, SSSA proudly celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2011. For more information, visit www.soils.org or follow @SSSA_soils on Twitter.

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