MDA Awarded $1 Million Grant to Promote Healthy Soil Practices

A Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) press release (2019-10-10) announced that MDA has been awarded a $1 million grant through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF) to promote healthy soil practices. Farms that adopt healthy soil practices can increase carbon sequestration and protect local and Chesapeake Bay water quality.  From the press release:

“This grant will allow the department to expand its efforts in promoting the benefits of soil health for Maryland farmers and our environment,” said Secretary Joe Bartenfelder. “Farmers are the original stewards of the land, and we welcome this opportunity to maintain productive and sustainable farmland while continuing our progress toward a healthier Chesapeake Bay.”

This grant will be used to fund education and outreach initiatives related to soil health. This will include financial and technical assistance for farmers; training for conservation staff and crop advisors; collection of regional soil health data; and education programs, including on-farm events and farmer-to-farmer learning networks. …

The CBSF is a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Fund (NFWF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Innovative Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Grants Program (INSR) and Small Watershed Grants Program (SWG). Additional support is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Altria Group Restoring America’s Resources partnership.

The press release also announced the formation of a Soil Health Advisory Committee, which will support and guide MDA in the implementation of the Maryland Healthy Soils Program. The Program was established by 2017 legislation and is designed to:

  1. improve the health, yield, and profitability of the soils of the State;
  2. increase the carbon sequestration capability of the soils of the State; and
  3. promote more widespread use of healthy soils practices among farmers in the State.

Useful Links

CBSF Webpage

MDA Soil Health Information Webpage

Soil Health Advisory Committee Membership

HB 1063 of 2017 (established Maryland Healthy Soils Program)