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Healthy Soils Program (HSP)

Healthy Soils Program (HSP)

1/19/22: The 2021-2022 Healthy Soils Program is still open for applications! Start your online application today. For free assistance, contact Caddie Bergren at (209) 385-7403.

A pair of hands holding a handful of rich, healthy-looking soil
The Healthy Soils Program encourages farmers to incorporate conservation agriculture techniques that improve their soil health and sequester carbon. It awards funds up to $100,000.

Eligible practices include:

  • Cropland practices:
    • These practices improve the soil’s water-holding capacity, stability, and organic matter content. 
  • Compost application practices:
    • Compost applied to annual crops, perennial crops, vineyards, or orchards
    • Compost can be purchased or produced on-farm
    • Purchased compost must come from a certified compost facility.
  • Herbaceous cover establishment:
    • These are practices that use grass to decrease wind and water erosion and keep nutrients in the soil. 
  • Woody cover establishment
    • These are practices that use trees or shrubs, not grasses, to decrease wind and water erosion. 
  • Grazing land practices
    • These practices aim to improve the productivity and sustainability of pastures and rangelands. 

Here is more specific information about these practices.

What does this look like?

Here are 2 examples from the Central Valley:

  • José Robles in Stanislaus County applied mulch and compost to his almond orchards. This decreased his nematode problems, which had decimated a section of his trees. The compost and mulch improved his soil and increased the productivity of his trees, without having to fumigate with pesticides. He also planted a hedgerow to attract insects and improve orchard pollination.
  • The Quaker Oaks Farm in Tulare County planted cover crops and hedgerow plants, applied mulch and compost, and created silvopasture areas. To learn more, click here.

How to apply:

The grant process includes a web-based application consisting of a series of questions that can be saved and returned to before submitting.

Projects located in 'Severely Disadvantaged Communities' (SDACs) receive priority funding. For more info and to see if you are located in a SDAC, click here.

To learn more about soil testing, and where to get your soil analyzed near Merced, click here.

Please contact UC Cooperative Extension specialist Caddie Bergren at cmbergren@ucanr.edu for questions or help with the application.