Dr. Elaine Ingham - The Soil Food Web & Composting Technology

18.04.2012 19:58


President and Director 

of Research at Soil Foodweb Inc., is one of the world’s leading soil microbiologists with 30 years of experience researching and teaching about the world and creatures under the soil.  Her energetic and easy-to-understand teaching style brings the soil foodweb to life.

Elaine received her doctorate degree in Microbiology with an emphasis on soil from Colorado State University. She was offered Post-doctoral Fellowship, at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab at Colorado State University and accepted a Research Associate Fellowship at the University of Georgia.

She moved to Oregon State University, and joined the faculty in both Forest Science and Botany and Plant Pathology. 

At OSU she created a service offering researchers and commercial clients the ability to have soil samples analyzed for soil foodweb organisms. When the number of samples coming into the Soil Microbial Biomass Service was close to 8,000 samples a year, and the amount of lab space required to process this number of samples was greater than originally planned. The head of Elaine's department asked that the commercial portion of the Biomass Service be taken off-campus. Thus Soil Foodweb Inc. became a commercial enterprise. Soil Foodweb Inc. now has labs in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Eastern and Western Canada.

With the move into a private lab, Elaine's focus turned more to grower-related issues, focusing on the expense of intensive chemical use as well as the damage these chemicals inflict on beneficial organisms in the soil and on foliage.

Working on compost tea with many people around the world has brought a greater 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.

Rodale Institute Names Dr. Elaine Ingham as New Chief Scientist

World-renowned soil biology expert to join Rodale Institute

KUTZTOWN, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Rodale Institute, a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, today announced the appointment of Dr. Elaine Ingham as Chief Scientist. Dr. Ingham has lead Soil Foodweb, Inc. as president and director of research since 1996, helping farmers all over the world to grow more resilient crops by understanding and improving their soil. She is also an affiliate professor at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and has served in academia for two decades.

In her new role as Chief Scientist, Dr. Ingham will take the lead on all Rodale Institute research projects; act as the scientific voice for the Institute as she travels worldwide; and help create a vision for the future of food and farming.

“Dr. Ingham is a true, card-carrying Soil Biologist—a rare entity. As one of the foremost authorities on practical soil biology management, she is uniquely qualified to pioneer new frontiers of organic research with the Rodale Institute,” says Executive Director Mark Smallwood. “We are very excited to have her join our team.”

Since it’s founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems TrialTM (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30% higher. This year, 2011 marks the 30th year of the trial. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots and new techniques for weed suppression.


Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For over sixty-years, we’ve been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.

Rodale Institute
Maya Rodale, 610-683-1483


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