Soil is the foundation of agricultural productivity and sustainability, global food security and our rural economies.
Healthy soils not only lead to reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, but also improve crop yields, drought and flood tolerance, and air and water quality. The health of our soils is improved through farm management that increases soil organic matter and reduces reliance on fossil fuel-based inputs.
Additional benefits that can come with improving soil health include:
- Reduced use of chemical fertilizers
- Improved air and water quality
- Increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat
- Increased water infiltration and retention
- Reduced soil erosion
- Improved soil fertility and plant health
State Healthy Soils Initiative
Recognizing the multiple benefits of well-managed soils, the state launched the Healthy Soils Initiative in 2015, a collaboration of state agencies and departments to promote the stewardship of healthy soils. A year later, the legislature funded the Healthy Soils Program, coordinated by CDFA, which offers producers incentives to adopt GHG-reducing soil health practices. CalCAN and our partners have been among the most consistent advocates for the program.
Practices eligible for funding in the Healthy Soils Program (with additional practices under consideration) include:
- Compost and mulch application
- Cover cropping
- Reduced tillage
- Planting windbreaks, riparian buffers and hedgerows
The program also funds demonstration projects to showcase healthy soils practices and accelerate their adoption through farmer-to-farmer education. Read more background on the Healthy Soils Program.