CDFA Seeking Comments on Practices to be Added to Healthy Soils Program

Farm tour participants learn about a newly planted hedgerow (left) and cover crops (far right) – two practices currently incentivized by the Healthy Soils Program – at the Collins Farm and Cloverleaf Farm. What practices would you like to see added to the Program?

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is currently seeking comments on its updated list of new management practices it is considering adding to the Healthy Soils Program. Comments are due to cdfa.oefi@cdfa.ca.gov no later than June 19th 5 pm PST.

The updated list, which CDFA presented at the May 24th meeting of the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel (SAP) and is available here, includes the following practices (note: CPS stands for NRCS Conservation Practice Standard):

  1. Prescribed Grazing (CPS 528)
  2. Conservation Crop Rotation (CPS 328)
  3. Nutrient Management – Reduce Fertilizer Application Rate by 15% (CPS 590)
  4. Slow-Release Fertilizers
  5. Strip Cropping (CPS 585)
  6. Forage and Biomass Planting (CPS 512)
  7. Conservation Cover (CPS 327)
  8. Range Planting (CPS 550)
  9. Grassed Waterway (CPS 412)
  10. Alley Cropping (CPS 311)
  11. Multistory Cropping (CPS 379)

CDFA offers important clarifications and considerations for the practices in its list, so we recommend reading it before drafting comments.

CalCAN submitted proposals last December for Prescribed Grazing, Conservation Crop Rotation, and Nutrient Management – Reduce Fertilizer Application Rate by 15%. We have also supported the addition of #5-#11 in the list above. However, we are strongly opposed to the inclusion of slow-release fertilizers, a position we explained in our Nutrient Management Proposal in December 2017.

In addition to these new practices, CDFA is considering modifying the existing Compost Application practice to allow for the application of compost produced on-farm, as well as a one-time application of compost to rangeland (as opposed to three years). CalCAN supports these modifications based on farmers’ and ranchers’ feedback that these changes would make the practices more practical and cost-effective.

Want to weigh in on these changes to the program? Let us know what you think. We’ll be submitting comments and welcome your input. Email brian@calclimateag.org.

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