Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi

Renowned soil health expert aims to help row crop producers save on inputs and increase profits

Salem, OR (June 2, 2021) – The Soil Health Institute’s Lead Scientist for the North American Project to Evaluate Soil Health Measurements, Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi, has been named by cover crop, forage, and turf seed industry leader GO Seed to lead its research into soil and plant relationships, announced co-founder and president Jerry Hall.

“Shannon is one of the country’s most highly respected scientists in the field of soil health analysis,” Hall says. “With her expertise, her natural curiosity and her wide network within the agricultural research community, we’re going to be able to understand so much more about the impact of products and soil management systems on yields and healthy ecosystems.

“This is especially important for the row crop community,” he continues. “Farmers currently spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on seed inoculants and treatments. But what if we can measurably demonstrate that cover crops can sustain the biology of the soil so new seed treatments are not needed?”

Cappellazzi will be working with GO Seed’s partners and customers, Ag Research Services, the National Ecological Observatory Network, Oregon State University (where she serves on the courtesy faculty) and research collaborators across the United States, Canada, and Mexico to better understand how plants impact the microbial life within the soil.

While she credits her work at SHI with informing how she thinks about measuring soil’s capacity to support vital functions like water filtration and storage, nutrient cycling, carbon storage and erosion resistance, she is looking forward to interacting directly with producers.

“My academic and nonprofit background will allow me to have meaningful conversations with academia, but the most valuable conversations come from producers. Listening to their needs is how we make the research more useful and how we grow the industry,” she says. “I’ve found that row crop producers are sometimes ahead of universities in trying new practices, so I’m looking forward to helping them to ensure that rigorous scientific methodologies are observed.”

Some of Cappellazzi’s initial research will be into root structures and their effect on soil structure, plant-microbial interactions, carbon sequestration, perennial cover crops, and how microbial inoculants work in conjunction with Go Seed’s cover crop seed. GO Seed is a leading producer of cover crops, particularly nitrogen-fixing clovers, which Cappellazzi notes have been increasingly adopted in corn-soy rotations.

“More people are seeing the benefits,” she says, “but the research is not about increasing yield, it’s about reducing input costs to make crops more profitable.”

“I’ve had the good fortune to hear Dr. Cappellazzi speak on a number of occasions as well as have her do research in our neck of the woods for the Soil Health Institute,” says Douglas Poole, a no-till winter wheat farmer from Washington state who has been an evangelist for healthy soil practices. “I’m excited to have her passion for soil health and more specifically her personal passion for livestock integration here in the Pacific Northwest. GO Seed has taken a giant leap forward in hiring Shannon and we look forward to working with her and GO Seed.”

Cappellazzi is particularly eager to analyze yield resiliency during a bad year – comparing farms like Poole’s that have adopted soil management systems with those that have not.

“Farmers always remember the worst years,” she says. “If we can minimize those, it will be huge.”

Prior to serving as SHI’s liaison for the western United States and the disciplinary lead for the Institute’s analysis of soil health in pastures and rangelands, Cappellazzi, an Oregon native, was Manager at the Oregon State University Central Analytical Laboratory. Earlier in her career, she was the Equestrian Manager for Wheelbarrow Creek Ranch and an agricultural commodities trader for Wilbur-Ellis Company.

Cappellazzi is a member of the Soil Science Society of America and serves as a board member of the Oregon Society of Soil Scientists and the Oregon Forage and Grassland Council. She received her B.S. in Animal Science and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Soil Science from Oregon State University.

Hall, who will continue to lead GO Seed’s breeding programs, is excited about the future of the cover crop industry with the addition of Cappellazzi to their team.

“We are looking forward to working more with row crop seed companies to investigate how our product lines can work together to deliver greater results," he says. "Her research will have an international impact.”

About GO Seed/Grassland Oregon

Salem, Oregon-based Grassland Oregon, Inc. (dba GOSeed) is an industry leader in research, breeding and marketing of environmentally beneficial cover crop, turf, and forage seeds. Founded in 2000, GO Seed has research locations across North America and exclusive global partnerships to deliver novel solutions for growing concerns. For complete information about GO Seed, visit: www.GOSeed.com. To learn about GOSeed’s research and education initiatives for the farming and cover crop industries, visit www.PasturesForPollinators.com and www.GOCoverCrops.com.

Dr. Shannon Cappellazzi