John Osthus

The FieldRise team is hosting a webinar on July 1 at 2 PM or July 14 at 2 PM Central Time that we hope will start a positive new sustainability conversation.

Everyone agrees food sustainability is a top priority. But too many people also agree vitally important progress can be too complex, too slow, too costly, too subjective, and too controversial.  As a new sustainability practice measurement company called FieldRise, we aim to help change that. Our webinar will cover:


  1. Building bridges between diverse viewpoints
  2. Speeding practice and outcome measurement success
  3. Ensuring sustainability program objectivity
  4. Getting farmers enthusiastic about having their sustainability measured
  5. Harnessing geek science, Greek math, obscure sociology and unusual marketing to depolarize viewpoints and guarantee greater measurement program success


The FieldRise Frontier sustainability measurement and outreach program was created by the family farmers of 12 state and national crop and livestock associations who teamed up with University of Wisconsin faculty to develop a breakthrough way to move food sustainability forward faster. Our peer-reviewed methods proved successful on more than 1.2 million acres, in 20 states and provinces with more than 1,200 crop and livestock farmers.  FieldRise is a private spinoff of that pilot program.

We hope you will join us.

Webinar Links (Identical Sessions):

Wednesday, July 01, 2015 at 2:00 PM Central Daylight Time.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 2:00 PM Central Daylight Time.

Dial-in Number: 1-857-232-0156 Conference Code: 220284

John Osthus

FieldRise hosted two Webinars in late April attended by soybean industry leaders from state and national organizations to share results of innovative Check-off funded research documenting the advanced stewardship practice status of soybean farmers.

Presentation: Soybean Sustainability Data and Outreach Ideas- April Webinar

Assessment Results: Midwest Soybean Sustainability Report

Producers throughout the Midwest stepped up to participate in an innovative assessment created by farmers who founded the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA) using Checkoff, farm association grant funding.  The NISA system uses a novel combination of field-relevant questions and an innovative peer-reviewed analytic method to objectively measure crop-specific and whole-farm practices including social, economic and environmental criteria.

NISA spun off FieldRise as a research-park-style private corporation on Thanksgiving Day 2014.

The FieldRise Network includes a diverse mix of founders from national and state soybean groups, direct consumed crops and livestock organizations who are using the farm practice data to document current status, support decisions about stewardship programs to accelerate outcome progress, and build stronger relationships between farmers and the families they serve.

This histogram shows farmers are highly advanced in terms of sustainability practice adoption.  It also documents where industry has the greatest opportunities for fostering continuous practice advances.

This histogram shows farmers are highly advanced in terms of sustainability practice adoption. It also documents where the soybean industry has the greatest opportunities to foster continuous practice advances through stewardship programs.

John Osthus

FieldRise has fully transitioned from its National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA) roots. We’re now combining the data with audience engagement strategies to advance supply chain stewardship and business goals. Our Ph.D. agronomic, economics, and analytics experts measure practices with FieldRise Frontier surveys, then apply a novel, peer-reviewed statistical analysis method that ensures objectivity. Then our six audience engagement specialists help client communications teams use new strategies to support realistic advances and get progress recognized throughout the marketplace.

John Osthus

Diverse Farming Groups Launch FieldRise Agriculture Stewardship Measurement Program

MADISON, WISC. – November 27, 2014 – Farmers and food channel partners from throughout U.S. agriculture have launched FieldRise LLC to validate on-farm stewardship success, measure continual improvements and help farmers, the food chain and consumers ground the topic in sound science and economics.

FieldRise success is powered by metrics, new messages and proactive teamwork that foster healthier food chain relationships and sustainability outcomes.The field-level and whole-farm questionnaires take only about 40 minutes to complete. FieldRise also will help broaden the country’s sustainability focus beyond farms and supply chains to also encourage consumer food-sustainability progress.

FieldRise began as the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (NISA), with farm groups and advisers from 12 commodity and direct-consumed crops from throughout the country serving as interim leaders. Ground-breaking sustainability measurement tools and educational materials were developed and field-tested, backed by powerful statistical analysis. In April 2014, NISA completed its 1,000-farmer, 1-million-acre pilot and transitioned from the University of Wisconsin to become a Wisconsin LLC in October 2014.

FieldRise founding partners are University of Wisconsin agriculture professors Dr. Jed Colquhoun, Dr. Shawn Conley, Dr. Paul Mitchell, and marketing and sustainability strategist John Osthus.

The launch is an opportunity for farm associations and food-chain organizations to become FieldRise founding members, says former NISA Board Member Ron Moore, a Roseville, Ill., crop and livestock farmer, who represented Illinois Soybean Association before moving into a director role at American Soybean Association.

FieldRise support comes from membership fees from farm groups, the food chain, and other stakeholders. Founding members can lock in discounted rates.

“FieldRise is agriculture’s first farmer-founded, farmer-managed system that’s field-proven to measure practices that increase production, protect profit, benefit workers and enhance environmental protection,” Moore says.

“FieldRise makes it easy for associations to offer farmers online questionnaires to assess their practices and plan for the future.  Farmers pay nothing to fill out the questionnaires and their personal information remains strictly confidential,” Moore adds. “Food buyers have an increasing need for field data, and FieldRise is a new link in the sustainability food chain.  In coming years, the assessment data also could help industry preempt unhelpful regulations or costly certification schemes.”

“Working with leading University of Wisconsin crop scientists, agronomists and economists, NISA created a proven way to anchor farm sustainability in measurement that can withstand rigorous scrutiny,” adds Del Monte Research Fellow Brian Flood, Ph.D. “The resulting FieldRise program gives us closer relationships with growers, and yields information ranging from simple measures to advanced statistical analyses that help document our supply chain sustainability.”

The results also give farm groups and the food chain practical ideas for voluntary improvements that tie back to farm profit and the grower’s innate commitment to the environment and society, says Flood.

Moore says Illinois Soybean Association was one of the 12 founding farmer-led groups, and the data helped anchor the state’s leadership in farm-to-family sustainability communications. “NISA proved that farmers throughout agriculture already are advanced in sustainability practices, and pilot members also received solid data to help us keep improving.”

Moore emphasizes the questionnaires are customized for each commodity, and members can suggest questions.  All members get aggregated data.  Soon, participating farmers can opt for a confidential individual scorecard to see how they compare with their peers or to help plan for the future.  Repeating the questionnaires every couple of years helps chart progress, he adds.

“The FieldRise system delivers unsurpassed ease of use and field-proven farmer acceptance,” Moore concludes.

For membership information or to connect with farm groups for assessment programs contact John Osthus at 314-369-5015 or write him at