Grower Grants for Soil Improvement


California Department of Food and Agriculture is offering grants of up to $100,000 to growers who are planning to incorporate conservation practices to improve soil health and sequester carbon.

Applications for the Healthy Soils Program will be accepted in February on a rolling basis for four months or until funds run out. Applicants will be notified within six weeks if they have been approved. Rejected applications can be edited and re-submitted.

The program begins in the fall of 2020 and is a three year commitment. The practices that are approved include cropping, composting, whole orchard recycling, herbaceous and woody cover establishment and grazing land practices.

Cover cropping practices are meant to improve soil water holding capacity, stability and organic matter content. The practices must be implemented for three years. They include cover crop planting, mulching, nutrient management and no till or reduced till.

Compost can be applied to annual crops, vineyards, orchards or rangeland. Compost can be purchased or produced on-farm. Compost must be the correct type for the crop and be applied at the following rates: annuals – higher N (C:N less than 11) and 3-5 short tons per acre; annuals – lower N (C:N greater than 11) at 6-8 short tons per acre; trees- higher N (C:N less than 11) at 2-4 short tons per acre; trees lower N (C:N greater than 11) at 6-8 tons per acre and rangelands at lower N (C:N greater than 11) at 6-8 tons per acre.

Whole orchard recycling projects is a new addition to the Healthy Soils Program. Instead of burning or chipping and hauling the wood waste off-farm, the chips are spread and incorporated in the soil before replanting.

Herbaceous and woody cover establishment are practices that use grasses, trees or shrubs to decrease wind and water erosion and keep nutrients in the soil. Planting must be completed in three years. Practices include hedgerow planting, riparian forest buffer and windbreak establishment.

Grazing land practices are aimed at improving grazing quality, decreasing erosion and increasing carbon sequestration. The practices include prescribed grazing, range planting and silvopasure.

There will be two workshops on the Healthy Soils Program: Feb. 13 from 9-11 a.m. at the Kern County Cooperative Extension office and Feb. 14 from 9-11 a.m. at the Tulare County Cooperative Extension office.

For technical assistance with the application process or help with the application, contact UCCE specialist Shulamit Shroder at 661-868-6218.

Cecilia Parsons
Associate Editor at JCS Marketing, Inc.

Cecilia Parsons has spent the past 30 years covering agriculture in California for a variety of newspapers, magazines and organizations. During that time she has been fortunate to witness some of the important events that have shaped this diverse industry and worked hard to examine and explain these events for readers.
When Cecilia first moved to the San Joaquin Valley in 1976, her first journalism job was at a small daily newspaper where she covered “farm news.” From there she branched out to writing for a dairy magazine and a regional weekly agriculture publication.
Cecilia is part of a farming family from the rural community of Ducor where she also raises purebred sheep and is attempting to master versatility ranch horse riding.