Climate Smart Agriculture and California’s Healthy Soils Initiative

The discussions underway at the Scaling-up Climate Smart Agriculture and Global Climate Action Summit events this week include the critical importance of healthy soils. California’s Healthy Soils Initiative is a collaboration of state agencies and departments, led by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, to promote the development of healthy soils. A combination of innovative farm and land management practices contribute to building adequate soil organic matter that can increase carbon sequestration and reduce overall greenhouse gases.

WHY SOILS?

Improve plant health
and crop yields

Soil organic matter suppresses disease organisms and increases plant nutrient availability and uptake.

Increase water retention
and infiltration

Healthy soil can hold up to 20 times its weight in water. Increasing soil organic matter 1% can increase soil available water holding capacity by 3.7%.

Prevent erosion and reduce
sediment and dust

Soil organic matter helps build soil aggregate stability and structure and make it more resistant to wind or water erosion.

Sequester carbon and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions

Soils contain approximately 75% of the carbon pool on land—three times more than the amount stored in living plants and animals.

Improve
water quality

Increasing soil organic matter increases infiltration and biological activity that make soil a more effective filter.

Improve biological diversity
and wildlife habitat

At least a quarter of the world’s biodiversity lives in the soil; healthy soils improve habitats and other natural resources.

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