Healthy Soils

A Healthy Farm Starts with Healthy Soils

Soil is the very foundation of life on farms. The U.S. Department of Agriculture calls it “a living and life-giving substance.” More than just dirt – it is a complex mixture of minerals, organic material and nutrients. Fertile, healthy soil is vital to grow the wholesome farm foods we depend on. Soil is also incredibly important to climate change – healthy soils capture carbon and prevent it from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to the greenhouse gas effect that is warming our planet.

Much like we must tend to our own personal health if we hope to lead long, fulfilling lives, we must also tend to the health of our soil to preserve and protect it now and in the future. Many factors can damage our farm soil, such as harsh chemicals or over-tilling.

During the 2017 General Assembly Session, Maryland passed first-of-its kind legislation to incentivize farming practices that contribute to healthy soils. The legislation defined “healthy soils” as the continuing capacity of soil to:

  • function as a biological system
  • increase soil organic matter
  • improve soil structure and water and nutrient holding capacity; and
  • sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new Maryland Healthy Soils Program, supported by the state Department of Agriculture, is charged with providing these incentives, such as education, technical assistance and funding, to farmers in order to help them implement farm management practices that contribute to healthy soils and capture carbon.

Fair Farms advocated strongly for the legislation and celebrated the bill’s passage. But, there’s more work to be done. There is no funding allocated for the program and it does not yet have a clear directive. Fair Farms is committed to staying engaged with our partners to bring the vision of this legislation to reality and work with state agencies on this exciting new program. For Maryland to truly protect our vital farm soils and combat climate change, we must ensure that we incentive proven practices that are sustainable and meaningful.

Projects & Priorities

 

 

 

Latest Posts

Farmer Reads: Peter Elmore of Star Bright Farm

Farmer Reads: Peter Elmore of Star Bright Farm

Written by Grace Callahan, Fair Farms Intern  This post is the fourth in a series of conversations with our Farmer ...
On-farm Composting Webinar Series

On-farm Composting Webinar Series

Written by Casey Willson, Fair Farms Intern The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) hosted a 6 part webinar series ...
Take the Clear Choices Clean Water Pollinator Pledge to Celebrate Pollinator Month!

Take the Clear Choices Clean Water Pollinator Pledge to Celebrate Pollinator Month!

Written by Casey Willson, Waterkeepers Chesapeake Intern  June is pollinator month for the Clear Choices Clean Water Campaign at Waterkeepers ...
Climate Change and the Food System

Climate Change and the Food System

Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern According to a 2019 report released by the World Resources Institute, agricultural production ...
Farmer Reads: Owl's Nest Farm

Farmer Reads: Owl’s Nest Farm

Written by Nicole Oveisi, Fair Farms Intern  This post is the first in a series of conversations with our Farmer ...