Tom Zimnicki

Tom Zimnicki

Tom Zimnicki

Speaker | Michigan Environmental Council

Lansing, MI | 313-969-3499 | tom@environmentalcouncil.org

Tom Zimnicki leads the Michigan Environmental Council’s efforts in advancing a policy agenda focused on innovative and pragmatic ideas that encourage environmentally sustainable agriculture throughout Michigan. He covers a wide range of issues at the Council from surface water management, nutrient runoff, pollinator health, and organic materials management. Tom has presented several times for the Michigan Association of County Drain Commissioners along with the Michigan Wetland Association and Michigan Agribusiness Association

Prior to joining MEC in October 2016, Tom worked as an environmental consultant in Kalamazoo, MI where he specialized in the use of market-based solutions to incentivize nonpoint source runoff controls for municipal and agricultural entities.

Tom holds a master of science degree in environmental science and a master of public affairs degree from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

Presentation Title: Connecting Soil Health and Water Quality: Expanding Opportunities for the Compost Industry in Regional Water Quality Initiatives and Conservation Planning

Session: Compost Uses and Markets: Step It Up a Notch

Time: Wednesday, January 30, 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM

Presentation Summary: Mounting threats to our freshwater has placed an emphasis on developing effective management practices to limit pollutant inputs into our rivers, lakes, and streams. For places like the Western Basin of Lake Erie, which is plagued by regular toxic algal blooms, considerable focus is given to limiting nutrient runoff from agricultural fields which are often identified as a dominant nutrient source. Researchers, practitioners, and government agencies expend substantial time and resources on studying, incentivizing, and implementing best management practices to combat nutrient runoff.

A growing number of stakeholders are starting to seriously consider how focusing on management practices that prioritize “soil health” may play an essential role in both protecting water quality and improving a producer’s bottom line. Despite compost offering a diverse range of benefits to agricultural operations, from disease suppression, improved hydrologic functioning, and yield stability, its adoption has remained relatively low compared to other conservation practices.

This session will explore several factors (economic, social, and technical) contributing to stunted adoption rates of compost and more broadly, soil health initiatives, within agriculture. Addressing these factors will help demonstrate the capacity of compost to positively impact broader environmental initiatives and policy objectives throughout the U.S., ultimately expanding the compost market.