The Soil Health Institute (SHI) announced it has selected a top agriculture leader as the organization’s first president and CEO.

Wayne Honeycutt, deputy chief for science and technology for the NRCS, has accepted the position.

“Enhancing the health of our nation’s soils is one of the most critical efforts of our lifetime,” Honeycutt says. “We’re setting the stage to conduct life-changing research, education and adoption, and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish in the coming months and years.”

Honeycutt brings more than 30 years of experience, an extensive personal network and in-depth knowledge, says Bill Buckner, chairman of the SHI board of directors.

“During our interview process, it was clear that Wayne understands the soil health landscape and has a great vision for the future of the Soil Health Institute,” Buckner says. “He has the ability, knowledge and experience to make that vision come to life.”

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation announced in December the unveiling of the new institute, to be focused on improving soil health in the U.S.

Based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., SHI will serve as the primary resource for soil health information, working to set soil-health standards and measurement, build knowledge about the economics of soil health, offer educational programs, and coordinate research in all aspects of soil and soil health.

The organization will work directly with conventional and organic farmers and ranchers, public- and private-sector researchers, academia, policymakers, government agencies, industry, environmental groups and consumers.