Have Ideas for New Healthy Soils Program Practices? Now’s the Time to Share Them!

Posted on Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 by Brian Shobe
Illustration by Catherine Ulitsky, USDA NRCS
Illustration by Catherine Ulitsky, USDA NRCS

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is currently accepting proposals for new agricultural management practices to be added to the Healthy Soils Program in 2018. The deadline for submission is 5:00pm on December 18. Below, you can find the guidelines for how to submit to CDFA your new practice proposal as well a list of current Healthy Soils practices.

Have ideas for additional practices? We’d love to hear them!
CalCAN staff will be coordinating and assisting in the submission of new practice proposals.
Email brian@calclimateag.org

The Healthy Soils Program provides financial incentives to farmers for adopting management practices that improve soil health and fight climate change by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or taking carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it in soil and woody plant matter. The program also funds on-farm demonstration projects to showcase eligible healthy soils practices and accelerate their adoption through outreach, farmer-to-farmer education, and research.

Definition of Healthy Soils: Healthy soils are defined in California law as “soils that enhance their continuing capacity to function as a biological system, increase soil organic matter, improve soil structure and water-and nutrient-holding capacity, and result in net long-term greenhouse gas benefits.”

Guidelines for Submitting Proposals for Additional Practices

Read CDFA’s official Request for Proposals for additional Healthy Soils Program practices

All proposals must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • All proposals must be emailed to cdfa.oefi@cdfa.ca.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. PST on Monday, December 18, 2017.
  • Submission must include the full name, organizational affiliation (if applicable) and contact information (phone number and email at a minimum) of the submitting individual or entity.
  • Proposals must:
    • include peer-reviewed and publicly available research literature in support of the practice(s) being proposed, demonstrating that implementing these farm management practices will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrous oxide emissions, or increase carbon sequestration in soils or woody biomass.
    • be submitted in PDF format, single-spaced with font size of 11 or larger, and maximum three pages, excluding supporting information such as research papers and data.
  • Field study design and research findings submitted in support of the practice must be statistically sound and significant (e.g. randomized experimental design with minimum three replicates and statistical analysis).
  • Practices proposed for consideration must not be proprietary or involve the usage of exclusive, proprietary products, materials or equipment.

Evaluation Process and Timeline

  1. CDFA staff will review submitted proposals on the agronomic and scientific soundness of the proposed practices and the potential to sequester carbon and achieve GHG reductions.
  2. CDFA, in consultation with the California Air Resources Board, will then evaluate the proposed practices to determine if sufficient scientific information is available to estimate GHG reductions from implementation of proposed practices under California conditions.
  3. An updated list of selected practices will then be presented at a public meeting of the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel. DATE TBA.

An approximate timeline for this process is outlined below:

CalCAN will work with our coalition partners and farmer, science, and technical advisors to develop our list of recommended new practices. You can email Brian Shobe, CalCAN Policy Associate, for more information.  brian@calclimateag.org

Current List of Healthy Soils Practices

CDFA developed their current list of eligible practices under the Healthy Soils Program based on conservation management practices identified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as “climate change building blocks”, which were found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or increase carbon sequestration. The one exception is the Compost Application Practice, which CDFA developed.

Note: Clicking on the linked practices will take you to the NRCS’s description of the benefits and implementation guidelines of the Conservation Practice Standard.

Soil Management Practices

Cropland to Herbaceous Cover Practices

Establishment of Woody Cover Practices

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