How Dr. Liz and Rick Haney are Reshaping Soil Tests and the Agricultural World by Following Nature's Blueprint

Podcast Notes

Most folks have heard of the Haney test, but who are the people behind the test, what is the test and how did it all get started?  

In this episode, Buz Kloot and Joe Dickie talk to Drs. Liz and Rick Haney both soil scientists who live in Texas.  Rick and Liz met during their graduate studies at Texas A&M – he was doing his PhD at the time and Liz her Masters.  We begin by asking about the philosophy behind the Haney test and Rick walks us through his background as a farmer, student and soil health advocate. As Rick says, “My main objective was to come up with something that would help [land managers] do something… Soil science seemed to be the place.”

Rick takes us through some of the steps of the development of the Haney Test that included looking at organic nitrogen, soil respiration and using an alternative extractant to look at soil minerals.  Rick’s driving philosophy was to mimic in the lab what was happening out in the field. While the middle part of the discussion does get technical, Joe and Liz bring us back to reality with examples, for instance, of talking about how soil respiration may resemble a party.  

We end the conversation discussing what this means for producers and how the soil test provides a different look at their soils, how this has allowed many producers to save on inputs (especially nitrogen) and how mimicking nature in soil tests encourages producers to improve farm management practices.  

Rick concludes the discussion with: “The biggest takeaway that I've had in the last 15 years is seeing farmers that had no hope have hope. That is been the most dramatic thing that I've seen in that instead of doing it the same old way over and over and over, you know, try, try different test and I'd have to be the hey, just try something.”

After retiring from the ARS, Rick continues his work as a technical director for a commercial soil test lab.  After leaving a job in the corporate world Liz now is co-owner of a company called RegenAg that educates and consults with farmers and nonprofits on their regenerative journey.

To learn more about what Liz and Rick are up to, visit them at:

For more free links and resources, visit our website:

December 6, 2023

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