Carbon Farm Planning & Soil Health

Increasing soil fertility and water holding capacity providing solutions for climate change.

Carbon Farm & Soil Health Planning Technical Assistance Application

The Humboldt County Resource Conservation District (HCRCD) is inviting agricultural land managers who are interested in conservation, soil health, and carbon sequestration to apply to receive technical assistance with on-farm planning at no cost. Plans can be used to seek funding for implementation of recommended practices. HCRCD anticipates selecting 10 – 16 land managers to receive plans over the next two years. This application packet serves as a guidance document that establishes the process, procedures, and general requirements to apply for and receive technical assistance.

The application deadline for the first round of application review is September 30, 2023; however, applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed quarterly until March 31, 2025. Applications can be filled on the fillable form, below, and emailed to, or downloaded and sent via hardcopy to 5630 South Broadway, Eureka, CA 95503. If you need assistance filling out the application, contact us at

Carbon Farm & Soil Health Application – fillable form

Carbon Farm & Soil Health Application – hardcopy form

What is carbon farming?

Carbon Farming is a process designed to maximize agriculture’s potential for moving excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere into the soil and vegetation, building fertility, productivity, and resilience.

Carbon Farming is a whole-farm approach implementing on-farm practices that increase the rate at which plants transfer carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere to the soil, which then increases water infiltration, water-holding capacity, soil organic matter, and promotes long-term carbon sequestration. The results: enhanced biodiversity, increased ecosystem resilience, and improved productivity.

Why create a carbon farm plan?

Carbon Farm Plans (CFP) are guidance documents for landowners outlining a suite of conservation practices that address on-farm resource concerns and greenhouse gas reductions. Plans are designed to help land managers meet their natural resource management goals while supporting productive lands, thriving streams, and on-farm wildlife habitat.

The Humboldt County Resource Conservation District (HCRCD) has received funding through the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) and Organic Valley Cooperative to develop CFPs. HCRCD has assisted seven landowners in completing CFPs and is currently working on another round of CFP development. Landowners who receive assistance and complete a CFP are expected to implement the practices in their plans as funding opportunities become available.

Carbon Farm Practices

  • Compost Applications
  • Riparian Forest Buffer
  • Prescribed Grazing Cover Crops Silvopasture/Shrub & Tree Establishment
  • Conventional Tillage to No-Till
  • Forage and Biomass Planting
  • Windbreak/ Hedgerow Establishment
  • Riparian Herbaceous Cover
  • Critical Area Planting
  • Improved Nutrient Management
  • plus many more!

Principles of Soil Health:

Maintain soil cover throughout the year

Soil is meant to be covered! Having vegetation on the soil surface reduces erosion due to wind and rain, keeps the temperature of the soil below suitable for microbial activity, conserves soil moisture, improves water infiltration, and returns nutrients and organic matter to soils.

Minimize soil disturbance

Conventional tillage hits the reset button on all the hard work that your soil has made. It increases the surface area increasing the rate of decomposition and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, breaks down aggregates decreasing stability and structure, increases compaction which reduces water infiltration, eliminates the living roots system cutting off soil microbial communities, and increases erosion. Conservation tillage implements No-Till, Strip-Till and/or Reduced-Till which will help maintain a healthy soil ready for the next crop.

Maintain living roots throughout the year

We couldn’t survive months at a time without eating, and neither can the microbial community within your soils. Roots transport nutrients down into the soil which keep the soil microbes alive and ready to feed your cash crops. Cover crops help feed the soil biology and can add valuable nutrients such as Nitrogen, reducing the additives needed and reducing the cost per acre. Cover crop roots also help pave the way for larger roots to dig deeper into the soil giving them access to water that wouldn’t otherwise be available.

Support the diversity of vegetation community

Diverse plants = diverse roots = diverse soil food web = Healthy, resilient soils. Different plants attract different soil biota which helps keep fungal and bacterial communities in a healthy range and keeps predatory nematodes and arthropods within numbers that are sustainable. Different length roots help maximize nutrient uptake and availability bringing it up into the plants for others to use.

Incorporate grazing animals

Grazing animal’s dung and urine returns valuable nutrients into the soil to be recycled, maintaining or increasing soil organic matter quantity and quality. This has been shown to improve plant productivity and health.