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Sep 23, 2021
Soil health in agriculture boosted by Valent, K-State agreement

Valent BioSciences LLC and Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, announced on Sept. 23 a formal long-term agreement to advance critical research in the areas of soil health and carbon smart farming.

Kansas State University Distinguished Professor of Soil Microbiology Charles W. Rice, a world-renowned researcher in carbon cycling and climate change, will oversee this initiative. A portion of the project funding will provide support for a doctoral student and a postdoctoral researcher.

“This collaboration with Kansas State University marks the next important and exciting step in our commitment to soil health in agriculture,” said Warren Shafer, vice president, global R&D and regulatory affairs at Valent BioSciences, said in a news release. “The specific projects being conducting with the university will help us remain the thought leader in the fields of carbon and nitrogen cycling, as influenced by the soil microbiome. These projects are part of a larger initiative led by our parent company, Sumitomo Chemical Company, to mitigate climate change by reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

The overarching goal of the collaborative program with Kansas State University is to study the complex interactions that control soil carbon stability and carbon and nitrogen dynamics. The joint research team will evaluate how MycoApply brand soil inoculants (containing arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi) and soil conservation management practices together influence soil health. Healthy agricultural soils can reduce the impacts of climate change and offset greenhouse gases by stabilizing nitrogen and carbon.

Soil cores from the Kansas State University studies will be evaluated and analyzed at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Missouri, using the organization’s state-of-the-art imaging technologies. Valent BioSciences maintains an ongoing collaboration with the Danforth Center to further define and shape the science of soil health. Scientists at the Danforth Center are using X-ray imaging equipment and computer learning to pioneer new techniques that shape the way we observe interactions between plant roots and beneficial soil microorganisms within the rhizosphere.

“This private/public partnership leverages global strengths for both organizations to address significant climate change research needs,” said David V. Rosowsky, Kansas State University Vice President for Research. “Dr. Rice’s unmatched expertise in soil health will be invaluable to this initiative, as will the tremendous assets our corporate partners can provide. This is a model for how the nation’s land-grant universities can address global issues.”

Headquartered in Libertyville, Illinois, Valent BioSciences is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd., and is the worldwide leader in the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of biorational products with sales in 95 countries around the world. Valent BioSciences is an ISO 9001 Certified Company.

For additional information, visit the company’s website at

Founded in 1863 as the nation’s first operational land-grant university, Kansas State University is a Tier 1 research university. Called the “Silicon Valley for biodefense,” the university is among the world’s foremost global food and biosecurity institutions, providing leadership on some of the today’s greatest challenges, including food safety and security and climate change.

Charles W. Rice specializes in soil microbiology, carbon cycling, and climate change, and has conducted extensive research in all of these areas. He is the first recipient of the Mary L. Vanier University Professorship at Kansas State University, which honors and supports innovative faculty members who are doing exceptional work. In addition, he was named 2020 Educator of the Year by the Mid America CropLife Association. Rice was part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is also the Chair, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. Rice earned a doctorate in soil microbiology and an M.S. in soil science from the University of Kentucky, and a B.S. in geography, natural environmental systems from Northern Illinois University.

Founded in 1998, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a not-for-profit research institute with a mission to improve the human condition through plant science. Research, education and outreach aim to have impact at the nexus of food security and the environment, and position the St. Louis region as a world center for plant science. The center’s work is funded through competitive grants from many sources, including the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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