Soil Health Advisory Committee Announced
News Release, Maryland Department of Agriculture
ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Maryland Department of Agriculture today was awarded a $1 million grant through the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund (CBSF) to promote healthy soil practices. This funding will allow the department to further its efforts in promoting widespread adoption of on-farm soil health practices, which increase carbon sequestration and protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The grant was announced this morning during an event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and School in Essex.
“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 the 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; a collection of regional soil health data; and education programs, including on-farm events and farmer-to-farmer learning networks.
The department is one of 47 grant recipients announced by CBSF today for a total of $12.7 million. This funding will support programs aimed at restoration and conservation of the Chesapeake Bay watershed throughout six states and the District of Columbia. The grants are expected to generate nearly $21 million in matching contributions for a total conservation impact of $33.5 million.
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.
Soil Health Advisory Committee
Furthering its mission to promote healthy soils, the department has also announced the formation of a Soil Health Advisory Committee. This committee will provide guidance and support to the department in implementing the Maryland Healthy Soils Program. This initiative will identify and promote conservation practices and technologies that improve soil productivity by enhancing the capacity of agricultural soils to hold nutrients and water, and store carbon.