East Stanislaus Resource Conservation District is one of 16 recently awarded the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service On-Farm Conservation Innovation program grant.
As part of the On-Farm Conservation Innovation trials, authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, grantees were chosen for their commitment to focus on agriculture and conservation. ESRCD will begin implementation of the 5-year project, Soil Health Management Systems for Orchards in California’s Central Valley, that will bring over $500,000 in producer payments and over $900,000 in research and technical assistance beginning in January 2020.
This significant investment in the local region will be a valuable tool in the improvement of soil health for Central Valley orchards to improve soil organic matter and reduce farming inputs such as water, fertilizers and pesticides. Funding was awarded to only 16 recipients nationwide who met a strict set of criteria for implementation standards and research protocols. Despite an increase focus on soil health in the past decade, the state of California currently ranks 43rd in the nation for adoption of practices improving soil health.
Examples of soil Health Management Systems to be implemented include reduced tillage, cover cropping, mulching and soil amendments.
Partnerships have been instrumental in securing this funding for the Central Valley with participation from local Resource Conservation Districts, UC Merced, American Farmland Trust, Community Alliance with Family Farmers and Project Apis m.
“The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is excited to partner with East Stanislaus RCD to bring demonstrations, resources and peer-to-peer learning opportunities to California growers interested in planting cover crops,” said Sara Tiffany, Climate Smart Farming, Senior Manager with CAFF.
“We’re excited to continue American Farmland Trust’s work in quantifying the benefits of healthy soils practices by analyzing the economic impacts of planting cover crops in orchards and vineyards. Providing farmers with information about how these practices benefit their bottom line is critical to increasing the adoption of cover crops in the San Joaquin Valley,” said Justin Bodell, California Conservation and Stewardship Program Manager with American Farmland Trust.
In accordance with grant criteria, ESRCD will be collecting both conservation and economic data through the demonstration sites selected for initial implementation. This critical information will later be evaluated to help conservation efforts in the future, both local and nationwide.
For more information on the USDA funding 2019 project list visit: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/financial/cig/?cid=nrcseprd1459039.