Healthy Soils Make Food and People Healthier

Healthy soils help make a healthy environment and nourishing food for our bodies. This winter, Solana Center worked with local farmers and ranchers to discuss the state’s Healthy Soils Program, strategize ways to implement best management practices, and improve productivity.

According to the Farm Bureau, San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the US and ranks first in part-time farmers, nursery crops, and, yes, avocados.  We also grow our share of guavas, pomegranates, limes, macadamias, lemons, strawberries and egg-laying hens. Farming generates an estimated $2.8 billion in annual revenues. The less strain we put on local farmers’ abilities to produce healthy crops without washing away the nutrients in their soils, the more they can focus on growing healthy foods.

Staff met with thirteen potential applicants to work through the application process. Five of them, managing landscapes from 1-acre to 40, applied for funding to be invested in things such as equipment to spread mulch and improvements that cut down on erosion. San Diego County applicants are local family farms in Ramona, Temecula, and Valley Center who requested modest sums for practical, effective measures.

Water retention, soil filtration and reducing runoff are among the many issues our local family farmers seek to address with support from the healthy soils program to discourage pollutants from entering their properties and manage water more effectively. Their efforts will not only build healthier soils with compost and mulch by increasing the input of biomass in the soil, it will undoubtedly allow for continued farming without herbicides or pesticides and encourage natural pollinators. Improving the soils also puts carbon back into the soil instead of the atmosphere. The state is reviewing 222 proposals, with a decision expected in June.