Sow, Grow, & Savor

The Healthy Soil Project

March 25, 2024

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The Healthy Soil Project

In 2023 we piloted a Healthy Soil Project idea. We leveraged Institute funding to help four farmers and one rancher apply for the New Mexico Healthy Soils Program (NM HSP). We hired a conservation planning contractor, Steve Kadas, to perform soil assessments, provide advice to the producers on ways to improve their soils and conserve resources such as soil, nutrients, and water. He also provided the necessary soil assays, NRCS-approved conservation plans, and soil and plot maps. Josh Waybright of Bright Way Ag provided soil biology sampling and testing while additional samples were sent to Ward Labs for chemical soil analysis. To round the project, the Institute hired a grant writer, Patrick DeSimio, to write the applications and associated budgets. All applications were approved by NM HSP for a total of $33,849 in funding to support soil building activities.

Fast forward to this week…

The seeds that were inoculated with biologically-active Johnson-Su Compost and drilled using no-till drills have sprouted and are accelerating with the sunny days and great moisture. In most instances, these seeds germinated last fall and had early growth, which got roots in the soil and began fixing nutrients and holding moisture. Observe the photos below, comparing soil that received compost and was seeded last fall against a section that did not – only 10 feet away!

The area seeded with cover crop was significantly darker in color and held more moisture, without supplemental irrigation.

In addition to assisting producers with the applications and implementation of their activities, the Institute partnered with New Mexico Healthy Soil Working Group, Seeding Regenerative Agriculture, The Mother Nature Center, and soil biology experts to host a Compost and Biology Workshop and Soil Building Field Days to demonstrate these practices to producers and the public.