About SFI

Founded by Dr. Elaine Ingham, Soil Foodweb Inc is a consulting company dedicated to changing the way the world grows food so we can restore our soil.

 

Dr. Elaine Ingham, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.

Founder and Director of Research for Soil Foodweb Inc.

Few people in the world are as synonymous with the research of Soil Biology and Soil Science as Elaine Ingham. 

Behind Dr. Ingham’s user-friendly approach to soil biology lies a wealth of knowledge gained from decades of research on the organisms which make up the soil food web.

Her goal is to translate this knowledge into actions that ensure a healthy food web that promotes plant growth and reduces reliance on inorganic chemicals. Elaine offers a pioneering vision for sustainable farming, in which we can improve our yields, cut input costs and regenerative our ecosystems by repairing our soils.

Growing Better Plants by Restoring Soil Biology

From 1996 to the present, at Soil Foodweb, Inc., Elaine has developed three new methods of rapidly assessing soil and foliage-related organisms and  how soil and foliar biology changes with different management practices.  She has focused on grower-related issues, such as reducing the cost to grow plants by showing that intensive chemical use not only damages and destroys the soil by harming beneficial organisms in the soil and on foliage, but also reduces nutrient concentrations in plants.

Our Mission:
What We Do and What We Believe In
We grow plants without disturbance, without pesticides or inorganic fertilizers.   
We use living, beneficial soil organisms to do the work of making soluble nutrients available to plants, nutrients that are in the soil in extremely high amounts but need the soil food web to make those nutrients available to plants. 

We use the natural balances of microbes to select for desired plants, and against un-desired plants.   Weeds become less and less of a problem as the proper balances are attained.

With healthy sets of soil life, roots of plants go deeper into the soil, more water infiltrates and is stored in the soil as soil structure is built. Compaction disappears, and organic matter in the soil begins once again to hold its maximum amount of water.  

Making certain that plants are never stressed for nutrients, water or sunlight means foods will contain the maximum concentrations of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, leading to healthier animals and healthier humans at less cost than we pay for poor nutrient quality food today.

Carbon is sequestered in the soil, and throughout the whole soil profile.  Repairing soil requires all these benefits be invoked, such that CO2 is put back into the soil from whence it came, before people started using toxic, destructive methods to grow plants.

We operate on any scale, from a single lawn to 300,000 hectares, and believe our approach can be scaled worldwide.

More About Dr. Elaine Ingham's Work

A brief overview of four decades of research into the Soil Foodweb.

Elaine grew up in the Midwest, and was influenced at an early age by her father, who along with being a college professor, often helped dairies improve the health of their livestock.

Elaine started her academic career at St. Olaf College with a B.A., Biology and Chemistry, cum laude, in 1974. She later earned an M.S. in Microbiology at Texas A & M University and her Doctorate in Microbiology, (with an emphasis in soil,) from Colorado State University.

In 1985, Dr. Ingham was awarded a Research Associate Fellowship at the University of Georgia and in 1981, Dr. Ingham was awarded a Post-doctoral position at Colorado State University’s NREL.

From the mid-1980’s to the mid-1990’s, Dr. Ingham was a Faculty Member in Forest Science and Botany and Plant Pathology at Oregon State University.  Where her research was focused on understanding the role and function of soil organisms in plant production. 

 In 1991, Dr. Ingham opened a service called the Soil Microbial Biomass Service, offering researchers and commercial clients the ability to have soil samples analyzed for soil foodweb organisms.

From 1996 to the present, at Soil Foodweb, Inc., Elaine has developed three new methods of rapidly assessing soil and foliage-related organisms and  how soil and foliar biology changes with different management practices.  She has focused on grower-related issues, such as reducing the cost to grow plants by showing that intensive chemical use not only damages and destroys the soil by harming beneficial organisms in the soil and on foliage, but also reduces nutrient concentrations in plants.

In the year 2000, Dr. Ingham opened a lab at Southern Cross University in Lismore, Australia, allowing grower’s overnight access to the assays they need to improve plant production without the use of high levels of inorganic chemicals.

From 2011 to 2014, Dr. Ingham served as the Chief Scientist for the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania.

From 2014 to August, 2018,  Elaine has been the Managing Scientist at Environment Celebration Institute in Berry Creek, CA, which was a non- profit research facility focusing on scientific experiments to assess the impact of soil biology on plant production. In the first two years at ECI, Dr. Ingham showed that improvement in biology leads to reduced water use, reduced weed populations, improved nutrient cycling, no use of pesticides or inorganic fertilizers while improving plant production and nutrition. This data was published in Permaculture Magazine. 

  • Her biological products collaboration with Lyndon Smith, Wayne Woodward and Jim Johnson of Huma-Gro and with Tom Piatkowski of Helena Chemical Company lead the way for understanding which bio-stimulant products work best, and how much product is needed to achieve desired improvements in soil organism growth and functions.
  • Work with Ken Warner of Frontier Industries and Ron Stewart of Columbia Gorge Organics focused on making the best humus possible to establish the  biological components of the soil food web.  By increasing fungal or bacterial growth in soil, different plants can be selected in preference over others, along with improving disease and pest suppression, nutrient cycling, and increasing water holding in soil. 
  • Working with Holmes Enviro, Lab, offering a new assay using selective media and molecular methods to identify whether twenty of the most beneficial bacteria are present in your soil, compost or compost tea
  • International work on compost tea, improving the understanding of how to properly manage thermally-produced compost, vermicompost, and compost tea, to guarantee disease-suppressive, soil-building, nutrient-retaining composts and compost teas.
  • Extensive work on genetically engineered organism issues with the Edmond’s Institute, a non-governmental organization,) directed by Beth Burrows. Dr. Ingham is a strong advocate of sound ecological testing of all genetically-engineered organisms before they are released into the environment.
  • Her current projects range from working on soil life in citrus groves in Florida, to cotton and avocado in Australia and Brazil, turf and golf courses, pasture and landscape internationally, roadside restoration in California and just about every other plant system in between.
  • To date, Elaine has directly and indirectly through her courses and consultations, helped thousands repair their soil health.  Whether on the farm, on the ranch, on parks, riparian zones, zoos, plains, greenhouses or forests.
  • In her spare time, Elaine publishes scientific papers, writes book chapters and gives talks at meetings and symposia around the world. Attendance at Elaine’s courses is always very high given her depth of knowledge and dynamic presentation style, as well as being a world-renown leader in research of the soil food web. 
  • Elaine and her husband Russ (who also has a Doctorate from Colorado State University in Zoology, emphasizing nematology,) live in Corvallis Oregon.

The SFI Team

Dr. Eva Schneider Ph.D

Soil Foodweb Consultant Training Program Manager

The micro-world of biology has always held a special fascination for Dr. Schneider and has played a large part in her life. During her studies in Germany, she focused in the areas of micro- and molecular biology.  After earning her Ph.D. she enjoyed diverse areas of work, learning many skills.  While living in Arizona, she was a biology teacher at a community college and a coach to a youth rowing crew, while living on a Farm that had a fruit orchard, vegetable plots and livestock.

 

During her time volunteering at a ranch in Washington, she discovered Dr. Elaine Ingham’s work, immediately recognizing that Dr. Ingham’s discoveries would be instrumental in saving the world with microbes!

 

She is now happily learning, working with and sharing this knowledge of soil biology with the students of SSE. She also works with Dr. Ingham to help coordinate her many travels and working engagements around the world.

 

Education:

Doctorum Rerum Naturalis in Biology, magna cum laude, University of Konstanz, Germany, 1997 (Ph.D. in Biology)

Diplom in Biology, University of Konstanz, Germany, 1991 (German equiv. Master of Science)

Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, magna cum laude, Arizona State University, 1986

Close

50% Complete

Two Step

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.