Healthy Soil Program


Welcome to the official website for NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program.

The Healthy Soil Program (HSP) was created when the Healthy Soil Act was signed into law in 2019.  The purpose of the program is “to promote and support farming and ranching systems and other forms of land management that increase soil organic matter, aggregate stability, microbiology and water retention to improve the health, yield and profitability of the soils of the state.”  At the heart of the Act are five soil health principles:

  1. keeping soil covered;
  2. minimizing soil disturbance on cropland and minimizing external inputs;
  3. maximizing biodiversity;
  4. maintaining a living root; and
  5. integrating animals into land management, including grazing animals, birds, beneficial insects or keystone species, such as earthworms.

The Healthy Soil Act directs NMDA to engage with “eligible entities” in a variety of ways, including through the awarding of grants to improve soil health and soil health stewardship. The Act defines Eligible Entities as including nations, tribes, and pueblos; land grants; acequias; soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs); and NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.

Following the Healthy Soil Program Listening Sessions that NMDA hosted with Eligible Entity communities in March and April, NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program will host a webinar for potential grant applicants in mid-May.  Potential grant applicants include Eligible Entities and Individual Applicants (individual farmers/ranchers applying with the backing of an Eligible Entity).  The date and time for that webinar – as well as a link to register to attend – will soon be available on this website.

In the meantime, we strongly encourage potential applicants to refine their project ideas they plan to submit for grant funding consideration.   

Here are the steps that those who intend to apply on behalf of an Eligible Entity can take to prepare for the application process opening in mid-May:

  1. Identify the soil health-related resource concerns on the land owned or managed by your organization and/or the farmers and ranchers your organization works with.  If your organization doesn’t own or manage any land, this step will require you to begin reaching out to the farmers, ranchers, and other land managers your organization works with.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the five soil health principles defined in the Healthy Soil Act.  Identify which one(s) will help you address the soil health-related resource concerns on the land managed by your organization and/or by the farmers, ranchers, and land managers your organization serves as an Eligible Entity.
  3. Develop a budget of expenses related to implementing the soil health principles and agricultural practices you’ve identified to address soil health-related resource concerns.

Here are the steps that those who intend to apply as Individual Applicants can take to prepare for the application process opening in mid-May:

  1. Identify and contact the Eligible Entity that will serve as the fiscal agent on your project (required for an individual farmer/rancher to apply to and participate in the program)
  2. Identify the soil health-related resource concerns on the land you manage (i.e., own, lease, oversee, etc.)
  3. Familiarize yourself with the five soil health principles defined in the Healthy Soil Act.  Identify which one(s) will help you address the soil health-related resource concerns on the land you manage.
  4. Develop a budget of expenses related to implementing the soil health principles and agricultural practices you’ve identified to address your particular soil health-related resource concerns.