CDFA’s Healthy Soils Program Accepting Applications – Due September 19, 2017

August 30, 2017

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is now accepting applications for the Healthy Soils Program (HSP) which is part of California’s cap-and-trade California Climate Investments. The objectives of the HSP are to build soil organic carbon and reduce atmospheric GHGs by (1) providing financial incentives to California growers and ranchers for agricultural management practices that sequester carbon, reduce atmospheric GHGs and improve soil health, (2) funding on-farm demonstration projects that showcase conservation management practices that mitigate GHG emissions and increase soil health, and (3) creating a platform promoting widespread adoption of conservation management practices throughout the state.

The Healthy Soils Program has two components: 1) the HSP Incentives Program and 2) the HSP Demonstration Projects.

HSP Incentives Program ($50,000 maximum; $3.75 million available): Grant funding will be awarded to provide financial assistance for implementation of agricultural management practices that sequester soil carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible recipients include California farmers, ranchers, and Federal and California Recognized Native American Indian Tribes. Projects must be located on a California agricultural operation and must result in net GHG benefits (i.e., net positive GHG reductions) from specific eligible agricultural management practices. The applicant must provide: baseline data on cropping and management histories directly related to fields identified by Assessor’s Parcel Numbers (APNs) where eligible management practices are proposed for implementation; a plan for three (or more) years of implementation; Compost-Planner Carbon Sequestration and GHG Estimation Report or COMET-Planner Carbon Sequestration and GHG Estimation Report (project specific); and; other documents. Providing a Conservation Plan is optional, however, applications that include a qualified conservation plan with the application will receive additional points during review. 

Project Duration: The grant term is from January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2020 (three years).

Matching Funds: Cost sharing (matching funds or in-kind contributions) must be contributed for approximately one third of the anticipated costs. Applicants are required to continue implementing the same eligible agricultural management practice(s) for Project Year 3 with cost sharing.

HSP Demonstration Projects ($3 million available): CDFA will fund two types of Demonstration Projects.

  • Type A: Projects are required to implement the selected eligible agricultural management practice(s) and include field measurements of GHG emissions at the on-farm demonstration sites where soil management practices are implemented, in addition to conducting outreach and education to other farmers and ranchers. The maximum grant award for a Type A project is $250,000.
  • Type B: Projects are required to implement the selected eligible agricultural management practice(s) and conduct outreach to other farmers and ranchers at the on-farm demonstration sites. The maximum grant award for a Type B project is $100,000.

Both projects must showcase conservation management practices that mitigate GHG emissions, increase soil health, and create a platform promoting widespread adoption of conservation management practices throughout the state. Eligible recipients for the Demonstration Projects include: not-for-profit entities, University Cooperative Extension Services, Federal and University Experiment Stations, Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs), Federal and California Recognized Native American Indian Tribes, and, farmers and ranchers in partnership with one of the aforementioned entities. Partnerships must include at least one farm (privately or university/government owned) to fulfill the demonstration requirement.

Program requirements for the Demonstration Projects include:

  • Eligible agricultural management practices can be implemented alone (must be a Soil Management Practice) or in combinations. Single or combined agricultural management practice groupings can be implemented on one APN or several APNs.
  • A Project must include at least one of the eligible Soil Management Practices to be implemented on a Treatment Field where it has not been implemented previously.
  • A Project must also include a Control Field to serve as a comparison to the Treatment Field. The Treatment Field and the Control Field should be located side-by-side, and differ from each other with respect to the presence (or absence) of new management practice(s) implementation while keeping all other field activities the same as much as possible.
  • Annual data collection for three years on soil organic matter from each APN that is part of the project is required.
  • Measurements on GHG emissions.
  • Crop yield data (for Type A projects).
  • Outreach to a minimum of 120 different individual farmers and/or ranchers (at least 40 per year) so the project awardees can showcase the project benefits and co-benefits and share information on implemented management practices.

Project Duration: The grant term is from January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2020 (three years).

Matching Funds: Cost sharing (matching funds or in-kind contributions) must be contributed for approximately one third of the anticipated costs. Applicants are required to continue implementing the same eligible agricultural management practice(s) for Project Year 3 with cost sharing.

For both the HSP Incentives Program and the HSP Demonstration Projects Management Practices include:

  1. Soil Management Practices:
    • Cropland Management: cover crop, mulching, residue and tillage management (no-till), residue and tillage management (reduced till);
    • Compost Application Practices: compost application to annual crops; compost application to perennials, orchards, and vineyards, and; compost application to grassland.
  2. Cropland to Herbaceous Cover: contour buffer strips, field border, filter strip, herbaceous wind barrier, riparian herbaceous cover, vegetative barriers.
  3. Establishment of Woody Cover Practices:
    • Wood Plantings Practices: hedgerow planting, riparian forest buffer, windbreak/shelterbelt establishment;
    • Grazing Lands Practices: silvopasture.

The awards will be announced in December 2017 and project implementation will begin in January 2018.

The full HSP Incentives Program Request for Grant Applications can be found here. The full HSP Demonstration Projects Request for Grant Applications can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison & Company’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at grants@morrisonco.net or call us at 530.893.4764.

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