State Soil Health Initiatives Highlighted in Izaak Walton League Report
Gaithersburg, MD – State and local leaders are finding creative ways to help farmers and ranchers restore the health of their soils. A new report from the Izaak Walton League of America highlights some of the best state and local policy ideas from around the country.
Since Colonial times, America’s soils have lost 50% to 70% of their organic matter, degrading the capacity of our soils to produce food, feed, and fiber. Cornell University says the U.S. is losing topsoil ten times faster than it can be replaced by nature. Restoring the health of our soils would reduce flooding, reduce polluted runoff from agriculture, store carbon in the soil, boost farm profits, make farms more resilient to droughts, and improve our ability to produce food for a growing population.
From California’s state soil health initiative to Maryland’s cost-share program that helps farmers adopt new conservation systems and plant cover crops, state leaders are developing innovative ideas to promote soil health. New Mexico created a soil health program and Iowa is funding a discount on federal crop insurance for farmers who plant cover crops.
Local leaders are promoting soil health as well. In Champaign County, Illinois, the soil and water conservation district created a tool to help farmers assess their conservation systems at a field level. In New Jersey, a resource conservation and development council bought equipment that it lends out to farmers to terminate cover crops.
These innovative state and local initiatives can yield a bountiful crop of public benefits, including reduced runoff of sediment and nutrients, carbon stored in the soil, reduced flooding, more resilient farmlands, and stronger rural communities. The report summarizes two dozen state and local soil health initiatives from around the country.
The report, “State & Local Soil Health Strategies: Building Soil Health Policy from the Ground Up,” is available at iwla.org/agriculture.
Founded in 1922, the Izaak Walton League of America (www.iwla.org) protects America's outdoors through education, community-based conservation, and promoting outdoor recreation.