Planting Seeds - Food & Farming News from CDFA

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.


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Improve plant health
and crop yields

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

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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%.

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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.

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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.

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water quality

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

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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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