Funding Opportunity: Healthy Soils Program – Currently Open
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Healthy Soils Program (HSP) Incentives Program provides financial incentives to California growers and ranchers to implement conservation management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric greenhouse gases, and improve soil health. CDFA is now accepting applications on a rolling basis until 5 p.m. PT on Friday, February 25, 2022 or until available funds are expended, whichever is earlier. California farmers and ranchers, as well as federal and California-recognized Native American Tribes are eligible to apply.
Humboldt County Resource Conservation District staff are HSP Technical Service Providers and able to provide technical assistance to applicants at no cost. Interested in learning more about the program and receiving technical assistance? Contact Jake Taulbee at email@example.com or call our office at 707-442-6058×5.
Register for a workshop to learn more about this funding opportunity:
Thursday, December 9th @ 5pm REGISTER HERE
Wednesday, December 15th @ 6pm REGISTER HERE
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has defined Soil Health as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans…Only ‘living’ things can have health, so viewing soil as a living ecosystem reflects a fundamental shift in the way we care for our nation’s soils.” Our soil has billions of bacteria, fungi, and microbes that create an entire ecosystem just under our feet. A healthy ecosystem within soil will flourish and diversify to sustain itself; a healthy ecosystem within soil will provide essential nutrients to plants for optimal growth and health and improve the soil’s ability to hold water in the root zone.
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 releases 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 diversity of vegetation community
Diverse plants = diverse roots = diverse soil food web = Healthy, resilient soils. Different plants attract different soil biota which help 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 animals 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.