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Soil Health Program

UDAF’s Utah Soil Health Program was created during the 2021 General Session (HB0296) to recognize soil health as essential to protecting the state’s soil and water resources, bolstering the state’s food supply, and sustaining the state’s agricultural industry.

The purpose of the program is to promote the adoption of soil health practices through increasing our understanding of soil health and its impacts on the productivity, economics, and environmental aspects of agriculture as well as how it benefits the general public of Utah.

The program uses a voluntary / incentive based approach through domestication, education, and research along with implementation projects to promote soil health benefits. Working with multiple partners, agencies, and stakeholders to combine efforts, and acquire funding and grants to implement projects under the umbrella of the Utah Soil Health Partnership (USHP).
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Interested in learning more about soil health and how to implement it in your operation? Reach out to our program staff. 

Soil Health Planner – Northern Utah
Corey Schelleneger
cschellenger@utah.gov
(907) 580-6605
Soil Health Planner – Southern Utah
Quade Fautin
qfautin@utah.gov
(385) 501-9519
Soil Health Program Manager
Tony Richards
tdrichards@utah.gov
435-452-2296

 


Soil Health Workshops, Field Days and Conferences:

Annual workshops have been hosted around the state since 2017 showcasing farmers and ranchers throughout the region as well as bringing national experts to share with local producers.

In 2021 USHP acquired a grant through the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service CIG On-Farm Demonstration Program to develop demonstration site on farms and ranches across Utah to conduct research, education and outreach in soil health principles and practices. Agronomic, eccomonic, environmental and social benefits of soil health will be measured to further understanding. Annual field days will be held at the demonstration sites to share findings and provide opportunities to learn about how to implement soil health in various farmings systems around the state. 

On February 15-17, 2022, the USHP is hosting a two-day soil health conference and optional beginners workshop in St. George UT at the Dixie Center. The conference will include national experts, and breakout sessions with farmers and ranchers presenting from around the region. There will also be a vendor fair and networking event. 

Soil Health in the West Conference and Beginners Workshop being held on February 15-17, 2022 in St. George, Utah.


Current Projects:

  • Utah Soil Health Network On-Farm Soil Health Demonstration Project
The Utah Soil Health Partnership with funding from the USDA NRCS is developing the Utah Soil Health Network. This 5 year project is designed to increase our understanding of how best to implement soil health practices into Utah’s various farming systems. Data will be collected from each site to understand the impacts of soil health practices on the agronomic, economic, environmental and social aspects of each operation.
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Program participants will receive annual incentive payments for keeping records, maintaining test plots and implementing practices. Successful applications must meet eligibility requirements for farm bill programs under NRCS.
Additional Details:
  • 5 Year Project 
  • 12 demonstration sites will be selected from around the state
  • Each producer will receive up to $6500 per year to implement soil health practices and provide crop management data
  • Trials will be up to 50 acres in size (several soil health and conventional strips)
  • Sites will be used to host farm field days
  • Participants must be eligible to participate in Farm Bill programs (records established with the FSA at time of contracting)
  • Participants will allow USU and USHP access to their field for soil, crop, and water sampling.
  • Research equipment (soil moisture sensor station, lysimeters, etc.) will be installed
  • Participants will be interviewed annually about the project
  • Agronomic, economic, environmental and social impacts of implementing soil health practices such as cover crops, no-till, integrated grazing and others will be the main focus of the project.
  • Data collected will be compiled into reports and factsheets for the public, all information will be anonymized to protect the privacy of each participant
  • Combinations of soil planners, USU extension agents, and crop advisors will work with each participant to develop an individual soil health plan for each site that will be followed for 5 years. Technical assistance will be provided to the participant throughout the project.
If interested in being considered for one of the demonstration sites, click here. The application period will close March 15th 2022.
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Related Links:

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Click here to view full report: Soil Health Program Interim Report 2021