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Soil Health & Conservation

Soil & Manure Sampling | Erosion Control | Pasture & Rangeland Management | No-Till Drill | Carbon Farm Planning | Biochar

Before Resource Conservation Districts assisted in the management of all natural resources local to their district, they were Soil Conservation Districts, as preempted by the the great Dust Bowl event of the 1940s. SCDs were created to conserve and protect the health of our nation’s soils as the foundation for agricultural health and stability.

Today, Gold Ridge RCD still assists in managing our district’s soil health by offering soil and manure sampling services, completing projects that prevent and treat soil erosion, developing sustainable pasture and rangeland management plans, developing carbon farm plans (strategic planning for farms and ranches to curb and sequester greenhouse gas emissions) and improving the availability of resources related to the specialized material Biochar. The RCD also rents out a special piece of equipment called a non tillage drill which conserves vital soil microbial health while sowing seed.

 

Healthy Soils News

Healthy Soils Program Seeks Farmers to Apply for Funding

California’s much-anticipated Healthy Soils Program officially launched August 8 with the release of the first Request for Grant Applications (RGA) by the California Department of Agriculture (CDFA). The deadline for applications is 5pm on September 19th. The first of its kind in the country, the program will provide grants to farmers and ranchers for implementing on-farm practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or store carbon in soil, trees and shrubs. Types of practices that will be eligible include the addition of mulch and compost, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and the planting of herbaceous and woody plants such as windbreaks, hedgerows, riparian plantings, filter strips, silvopasture and more.

Three types of grants will be available:

1. Direct farmer grants: Incentives of up to $50,000 per farm or ranch for the implementation of one or more new soil and conservation management practices. Small, organic, and disadvantaged growers farmers interested in applying can receive assistance with the application from CCOF. Please contact Jessy Parr at jparr@ccof.org for more information.

2.Outreach and Education/Demonstration grants: Demonstration projects funded with grants of up to $100,000 for soil improvement practices that reduce GHGs and increase soil health, and also have an outreach and demonstration component to showcase the healthy soils practices and promote their widespread adoption throughout the state. These will likely involve partnerships between producers and non-profits, Resource Conservation Districts and/or academic or extension departments.Contact William Hart, William@goldridgercd.org or (707) 823-5244, if you are interested in partnering with Gold Ridge RCD on this grant program.

3. Research/Demonstration grants: Demonstration projects funded with grants of up to $250,000. These are similar to the prior category of demonstration project, but in addition to outreach and education on healthy soils practices, these projects must include measurement and data collection on GHG emissions and carbon sequestration.Contact William Hart, William@goldridgercd.org or (707) 823-5244, if you are interested in partnering with Gold Ridge RCD on this grant program.

Resources to assist growers in applying:

  • For a farmer fact sheet from CalCAN: click here
  • For Incentives Program application materials and a schedule of application assistance workshops and webinars: click here
  • For Demonstration Projects application materials and a schedule of application assistance workshops and webinars: click here
  • For a 5-minute introduction videoand schedule of training webinars for COMET-Planner, the calculator required for most applications: click here (video) and here (schedule)

 

New Soil Health Hub Supports Climate Beneficial Practices in North Bay
This year, RCDs from Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino County, NRCS, UC Research and Extension Centers and other partners collaborated as the North Bay Soil Health Hub with funding from the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant to create an information-sharing network that would support farmers in improving their soil health. The network is currently laying the groundwork for soil health demonstrations, workshops with industry specialists, farmer-to-farmer forum discussions, an online resource library and more. The RCDs invite farmers to access and contribute to resources and discussions online at the North Coast Soil Health Hub.

Vineyards are the Beginning

The North Bay Soil Health Hub is starting with the vineyard industry but will build the network to include other agricultural industries in the three counties over time. Currently, a survey is collecting anonymous information from north bay winegrowers on their climate beneficial/soil health practices. Results will help the RCDs, UC Farm Advisors, and NRCS understand the barriers to and opportunities for beneficial/soil health practices regionally and later provide support and technical guidance to winegrowers interested in adopting these practices. Take the survey here.

The survey is the first step in understanding what climate beneficial practices can be expanded on our region's vineyards. Please take this survey to tell us what types of soil health practices are being used (e.g. cover crop, compost application), what types of soil health practices are difficult to implement, and what types of soil health practices grapegrowers are curious to learn more about. In the next year, the regional RCDs will be setting up 3 soil health demo sites in Napa Valley, hosting workshops, and offering free soil health assessments to growers. Stay posted on these efforts via the new North Coast Soil Health Hub website.

 

For more information: William Hart - William@GoldRidgeRCD.org - (707) 823-5244
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