Jola Szubielski 518-457-0752|
Dave Bullard 315-487-7711 x 1377
May 11, 2015
State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Grant Funds to Promote Soil Health and Encourage Crop Yields
State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball today announced an opportunity for Soil and Water Conservation Districts across New York State to address soil quality in their counties, and develop initiatives that will encourage greater crop yields and protect water resources from pollution. Counties can apply for grant funds of up to $25,000 per District for these plans through the Ecosystem Based Management Soil Health Mini Grants program.
“The United Nations has named this year the International Year of Soils, providing the opportunity to increase awareness of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions in New York State,” said Commissioner Ball. “As a farmer, I understand the need to maintain healthy soils, and I encourage our Soil and Water Conservation Districts to take advantage of the available funding for the sustainable management and protection of this natural resource.”
Soil quality has become a leading concern for the agriculture industry on a national level. Healthy soils hold the potential to produce greater crop yields while protecting water resources from polluted runoff. In addition, crops growing in healthy soils require less fertilizer and are better able to withstand both floods and droughts.
Through the Soil Health Mini Grants program, local Soil and Water Conservation Districts can develop their own programs to increase the adoption of healthy soil practices. These programs can range from soil health testing to farmer equipment loan programs. The Soil Health Mini Grants are designed to allow the flexibility needed to establish programs that will have long-term residual impacts on the adoption of soil health practices.
Improving soil health can be accomplished by reducing tillage and keeping a living crop on the field all year. Farmers interested in soil health should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District to learn about the many opportunities available to improve soil quality in New York at http://www.nys-soilandwater.org/contacts/county_offices.html.
Applicants can apply for the Ecosystem Based Management Soil Health Mini Grants program through the NYS Grants Gateway at https://grantsgateway.ny.gov/IntelliGrants_NYSGG/login2.aspx. The deadline to apply is June 15, 2015. Funds are being made available from the New York State Environmental Protection Fund.
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