Welcome to the official website for NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program.
The period to apply for a FY22 Healthy Soil Program grant ended July 2, 2021. Individual Applicants (farmers and ranchers) interested in applying for a FY23 grant can prepare for the upcoming funding cycle by taking the following steps:
- Work with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to secure a conservation plan for the land you own, lease, or manage; and
- Identify the Eligible Entity that is qualified to act as your project’s fiscal agent (see below)
BACKGROUND: NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program
NMDA created its Healthy Soil Program 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.”
The Act directs NMDA to award grants to Eligible Entities, defined as “local governmental [entities] with proven land management capacity to support soil health”, including:
- Nations, tribes, and pueblos
- Land grants
- Soil and water conservation districts (SWCDs)
- NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service
All Eligible Entity types may seek grant funds to implement their own on-the-ground project to improve soil health on lands within their jurisdiction.
Individual Applicants seeking grant funds to implement an on-the-ground project to improve their soil health must first secure the written support of a *qualified* Eligible Entity, one that can serve as their project’s fiscal agent. Qualified Eligible Entities are noted with a green highlight above.
At the heart of the Healthy Soil Act and thus the Healthy Soil Program are five soil health principles:
- keeping soil covered;
- minimizing soil disturbance on cropland and minimizing external inputs;
- maximizing biodiversity;
- maintaining a living root; and
- integrating animals into land management, including grazing animals, birds, beneficial insects or keystone species, such as earthworms.
More information about the fundamentals of soil health is available in this training, which was offered by NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service online during the fall of 2020. (To access the free training, simply click on the bulleted “Soil Health Workshop” hyperlink.)
Interested in assessing your own soil health? Please refer to this handout, which FY22 grantees will follow in assessing their soil health both pre- and post-project.
Contact NMDA’s Healthy Soil Program: