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Origin Story

Healthy soil is the foundation for healthy food and a healthy world.

Rhizoterra Inc. is an international company that creates information and knowledge pertaining to soil health.  We want everyone to be able to make informed decisions based on science.

 

Rhizoterra Inc was founded in April 2011 by Jill Clapperton.  The name comes from the Greek Rhizo – meaning root, and terra- meaning earth. Plant roots are what drive the underground carbon cycle, creating soil structure and feeding the microbial community.

 

When I started Rhizoterra it was mostly an education design company telling the story of these thriving underground communities that have amazing infrastructure (soil structure and water-stable aggregates).  We worked to help people understand that healthy soil means having essential soil services that provide food, filtered water, and carbon storage to name a few.

 

Along the way, we were increasingly challenged to find ways to measure soil health and worked to develop bioindicators for phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) microbial community profiles, adapted the Solvita test to be used in crop by farmers, developed standards for using earthworm numbers and diversity as indicators, and are now using the MicroBiometer test to measure soil microbial biomass. We continue to explore technologies that give practical and relevant in

 

I love to grow and study plants.  Soil health doesn’t happen without plants. So, if “you are what you eat (and don’t excrete)” then what plants are is surely a measure of what is available to them in the soil.

 

Then there is that whole argument about what is available in the soil and how a soil test measures availability- hmmm.  Eric Kaiser a farmer in Ontario Canada told me about a “gun” that his brother invented that could measure mineral elements in the soil on the spot- Sure Eric- I thought.  Eventually, I called Bruce Kaiser Ph.D., a farm boy and atomic physicist, who invented the Bruker Tracer a portable X-ray fluorescent (XRF) spectrometer.   Bruce helped me to develop calibrations to accurately measure the total amount of macro and trace elements for soil, plant material, food grains, fertilizer, water, and etc. in 30 seconds.  Now we can measure the total amount of elements like magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, iron, and zinc for example in the soil, compare that with what is in the plant tissue, and then grain and know what was available and made available to the plant.  Now we can measure with the Tracer, we can make scans, and see where the elements go in the plant.  IT IS SO COOL. Rhizoterra actively looks for new analytical technologies, tests them, and helps to develop a market for them (if we think they work). Check out our line-up.

 

Working with dairies and grazing animals has meant Rhizoterra has started creating forage mixes combined with grazing to help heal the land and keep livestock at optimal health.  Increasing the plant diversity in cropping systems with intercropping and companion cropping is another logical step.

With all the people that have mentored me and Rhizoterra on our journey, we learned that the growers and ranchers have done some of the most innovative work in agriculture.  These innovators wanted to share what they were doing with others- so why not add designing and helping to implement field studies to our list of what we do.  This also became about connecting innovative farmers from around the world together to build a network of peers that have a similar goal – to care for the soil, their families, and communities, and grow the best seed, and food possible.

We are constantly asked to endorse or test products.  Growers are always asking me about products and then there was the big question- how do we know it is not “Snake Oil”?  Rhizoterra registers both in the USA and Canada biological and biologically-based products for companies that want to provide their customers with legitimate products.  Registered products have to tell you the ingredients so that consumers can make an informed decision.

 

I have always believed that one size fits no one.  Rhizoterra is all about customizing to suit the needs, culture, and/or risk tolerance of our customers.  I want people everywhere to share and embrace soil health stories, and demonstrate how healthy soils grow nutritious food healing the Earth and ourselves.

Jill Clapperton

Jill Clapperton Ph.D. is the Principal Scientist and CEO of Rhizoterra Inc, she is an internationally recognized educator on how to create, measure, and maintain healthy productive soils that produce tasty nutrient-dense food. Jill has a Ph.D. in Plant Ecophysiology from the University of Calgary and worked as the Rhizosphere Ecologist for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada in Lethbridge Alberta for 16 years before founding Rhizoterra Inc (a Washington State USA based company).  Jill sits as a board member for the Pacific Northwest Direct Seed Association coordinating the Farmed Smart Program that certifies farms as Sustainable and Regenerative. Rhizoterra is also a partner in Our Grounded Growth and the Real Food Campaign supporting markets for farmers that have healthy soils and grow nutrient-dense food. Rhizoterra Inc is an international food security consulting company guiding people, organizations, and corporations as they endeavor to create and measure healthy productive soils that grow tasty nutrient-dense food in a way that honours our farming culture, regenerates arable lands, and sustains environmental integrity.

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Arvil Stevenson

Avril Stevenson started working for Rhizoterra in 2011 and is the Office and Project Manager.  Avril’s key focus in Rhizoterra is registering biologically based agricultural products in both the USA and Canada. She also assists processing facilities with acquiring Organic, Halal, Kosher certifications including Food Safety and Handling requirements, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), and Compliance and Quality Assurance.

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What We Do 

Rhizoterra designs and implements research and discovery projects on a farm scale. Our research will be published scientifically and is demonstrated publicly. We know that all agricultural and land management practices affect the ability of our soils to produce healthy and nutritious food. We are confident that practices that create healthy and productive soils can restore clean air and water. At Rhizoterra we are proud to work locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally for soil health: the foundation for food.