State grants available to build healthy soil

Staff report
Posted 9/26/19

Healthy soil is key to growing grass and crops, holding onto rainwater and snowmelt and preventing erosion.The New Mexico Department of Agriculture is offering grants to help farmers, ranchers and …

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State grants available to build healthy soil

Posted

Healthy soil is key to growing grass and crops, holding onto rainwater and snowmelt and preventing erosion.

The New Mexico Department of Agriculture is offering grants to help farmers, ranchers and gardeners with their efforts to build and retain healthy soil. The deadline for Healthy Soil Program grant proposals has been extended to Nov. 6.

The Healthy Soil Program is funded through the New Mexico Healthy Soil Act signed into law April 2. The law promotes and supports farming, ranching and other land management systems that increase soil organic matter and improve microbiology and water retention to improve the state's soil health, yield and profitability.

"There has been substantial interest in this pilot program," said New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte. "With this being a new program, we want to ensure New Mexicans have an adequate amount of time to work through the grant proposal process and that they have any questions answered by our team."

New Mexico farmers and ranchers interested in applying must do so through local governmental entities - such as tribes and pueblos, soil and water conservation districts, land grant associations or acequia associations - with proven land management capacity to support healthy soil.

Grant funding may be used for agricultural pilot projects in New Mexico that focus on one or more of five basic soil health principles: keeping the soil covered; minimizing soil disturbance on cropland; maximizing biodiversity; maintaining a living root; and integrating animals into land management.

Farmers and ranchers who want to apply for grants do not need to own the land on which the project is to occur; leased land qualifies as long as a qualifying entity or association approves the project and submits it to the state by the deadline.

A total of $175,000 is available for projects in the soil program in fiscal year 2019-2020.

Farmers and ranchers who intend to apply: check with the eligible entity to learn what its deadline is for the grants. Eligible entities will review and sign on to the proposals they receive before forwarding them to New Mexico Department of Agriculture by its 5 p.m. deadline Nov. 6.

For more information or to download a proposal, visit nmda.nmsu.edu or call (575) 646-2642.

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