American Farmland Trust, the organization behind the national movement No Farms No Food®, was awarded a highly competitive 2018 Conservation Innovation Grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. Authorized by the 2002 Farm Bill, CIG helps develop the tools, technologies and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands.
“Through programs like the Conservation Innovation Grants Program, we’re fueling the development of new and exciting tools and technologies, helping farmers improve their agricultural and conservation outcomes,” says NRCS Acting Chief Leonard Jordan.
The grant will fund a new AFT project called “Accelerating Soil Health Adoption by Quantifying Economic and Environmental Outcomes & Overcoming Barriers on Rented Land” that is designed to give farmers and landowners the quantitative evidence they need to make better conservation decisions.
One barrier to wider use of soil health practices that improve water, save soil, protect climate, and often increase profit has been limited quantitative data proving their benefits.
AFT will work in six watersheds across five states (California, Illinois, Ohio, New York and Virginia) to quantify the benefits experienced by 24 farmers who have already implemented soil health practices like reduced tillage, cover crops, nutrient management, crop rotation and more. The data collected will be used to produce economic case studies that include soil health, water quality and greenhouse gas outcomes experienced by the successful soil health farmers. The case studies will be used to encourage other farmers and non-operating landowners to implement environmentally sound farming practices more quickly and in greater numbers. The project also aims to foster better conversations and lease arrangements between farmers and non-operating landowners – many of whom are women – to better share in the risk and rewards of investing in soil health practices.
“We are thrilled and honored to have been chosen to receive the NRCS CIG grant. At AFT, we hope this new quantitative evidence helps farmers and landowners agree to adopt soil health practices on more land sooner, and with that decision, to reap the benefits of greater productivity, increased profitability and environmental improvement,” says Michelle Perez, director of AFT’s water initiative.
Perez continues, “AFT has been promoting soil health practices to improve water quality for over three decades and is now pursuing quantifying conservation outcomes under our new Water Initiative, and our existing Farmers Combat Climate Change and Women for the Land Initiatives.”
Source: American Farmland Trust