Grant Programs for Healthy Soils

Building on The CA Healthy Soils Program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Air Resources Board are paying farmers to reverse climate change as part of the state’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2045. Using advanced modeling, soil scientists can estimate the emissions reductions from practices such as compost application, cover cropping, planting trees, etc. Transition to Organics would like to support the  program, by creating additional funding to help farmers implement these practices and transition the Ojai Valley towards a renewable food economy.

From the State of CA Healthy Soils Program

What is the CA Healthy Soils Program?

The Healthy Soils Program (HSP) stems from the California Healthy Soils Initiative, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the development of healthy soils on California’s farmlands and ranchlands.

The HSP has two components: the HSP Incentives Program and the HSP Demonstration Projects. The HSP Incentives Program provides financial assistance for implementation of conservation management that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The HSP Demonstration Projects showcase California farmers and rancher’s implementation of HSP practices.

The 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 (GHGs), and improve soil health. GHGs benefits are estimated using quantification methodology and tools developed by California Air Resources Board (CARB), USDA-NRCS and CDFA and soil health improvement will be assessed by measuring soil organic matter content.

CDFA has selected for award 194 projects for the 2018 HSP Incentives Program requesting $8,667,596 in grants. For a list of selected projects, click here (New).

Project Summary of a grant request for $72,500 in Kern County

By applying compost to 40 acres of blueberries and mandarins for three years, we hope to see an increase in soil and plant health that is significant enough to justify implementation to more acres and for years to come. We will take yearly soil sample tests to look at SOM percentages, nutrient composition, and water drainage and holding capacity. We will plant over 4000 feet of hedgerows optimized for native pollinator habitat. The project will help increase quality and yield of blueberry and mandarin crops, preserving the soil health and carbon sequestration benefits. We will evaluate project success based on soil health, pollinator abundance and diversity, and crop quality and yields.

A project in Riverside County for $45,000

The goal is to enrich the quality of the soil for a ten acre historic fruit grove, the grove provides oranges to the Riverside Unified School District and the citrus is enjoyed by students in elementary schools in the Riverside School District. The compost will improve the health of the soil and keep the temperature low during the extreme hot weather in the Inland Empire. The soil quality will be more sustainable and resilient to climate changes. In the long run, the fruit production will be improved by replenishing organic matter and supplying valuable nutrients.

A project in San Diego County for $74,400

Our farm project aims to be a showcase of the best practices in waterwise farming and soil carbon farming practices for the region of San Diego. We are converting a water intensive avocado grove into a diverse polyculture of low water farm products and enterprises that build soil and habitat every year. We are seeking to not only implement many different soil carbon building practices on the farm, but also use this as an opportunity to educate other farms, farmers, and other gardeners in the region. We have a current partnership and sit on the board with a local non-profit organization, The San Diego Sustainable Living Institute, who utilizes the farm as a teaching space for sustainable and regenerative farming practices; including agroforestry, healthy soils, carbon sequestration, permaculture, water conservation, rainwater harvesting, watershed restoration and more. Through this partnership, we organize numerous farm events per year including hosting the San Diego New Farmers Guild farm tours, farm dinners, and we also bring in expert instructors in soil health, such as Elaine Ingham. We estimate about 300-500 people a year will visit the farm over the next few years. To evaluate and measure the success of this project we will be monitoring: -Soil carbon through yearly soil testing, -Analysis of soil biology through microscopic qualitative soil testing, -Health of plants and photo documentation using aerial imagery, -Production of crops, -Follow communications with those involved in our education programs that engage in the farm soil education programs to see what practices they are implementing.

via 2018 HSP Demo applications selected for awards – 2018-HSPDemo-SelectedProjects.pdf