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A view of an agricultural field that borders wildlands. The inner coastal range is in view in the background.
04
Jan

No-Cost Conservation Planning Technical Assistance Available

Yolo County RCD has funding through the Department of Food and Agriculture to develop conservation plans that outline strategies for sequestering atmospheric carbon, improving nutrient management, promoting soil health management, or to supporting native pollinator biodiversity. Yolo County RCD staff will collaborate with growers (at no-cost) to identify resource concerns on their properties and develop a comprehensive conservation plan to address those resource concerns.

Conservation plans document grower objectives, current conditions, resource concerns, and a general plan of action to accomplish the desired conservation practice. Once implemented, conservation plans can have many co-benefits beyond initial objectives such as increased carbon sequestration, facilitating groundwater recharge, improving water quality, and supporting the variety of living organisms in our region.

What is a Soil Health Management Plan?

Soil Health Management Plans identify soil health concerns related to the physical, biological, and chemical properties of the soil and identifies conservation practices for use in an adaptive soil health management plan. Soil management plans can address issues such as soil organic matter depletion, soil compaction, soil organism habitat loss or degradation, aggregate instability, concentrations of salts or other chemicals, plant productivity, wind erosion, and more! These conservation plans abide by the four principles of soil health: minimize soil disturbance, maximize soil cover, maximize biodiversity, and maximize living roots. Different practices that may be outlined in a Soil Health Management Plan include reducing tillage, managing irrigation, prescribed grazing, cover cropping, crop rotations, and soil carbon amendments. Overall, soil health plans ensure soils continue to function as a vital living ecosystem to support plants, animals, and humans,

A view of a cover cropped field and a section of field laying fallow.

What is a Pollinator Habitat Design Plan?

Pollinator enhancement plans address the improvement, protection, enhancement, or expansion of flower rich habitat that supports native pollinators. More than 30 percent of the world’s food and flowering plants depend on insect pollination. Pollinators face many challenges that are causing population declines such as habitat loss, development, disease, and climate change. Whether a landowner is trying to facilitate pollination by wild or managed bees or simply wants to provide more habitat for beneficial insects and butterflies, these plans outline conservation practices that agricultural producers can implement to create pollinator habitat. Pollinator Habitat Design Plans will outline appropriate plant species, planting plans, and no-till areas appropriate for ground-nesting bees. Good pollinator habitat will consist of high-value pollen and nectar plants and areas for pollinators to overwinter and nest. 

A hedgerow installed along a farm edge in Yolo County. Hedgerows provide wildlife habitat for mammals and birds as well as floral resources to support native pollinators.

What is a Nutrient Management Plan?

Crops need proper nutrients to grow, but with fertilizer costs rising, nutrient management plans can help reduce input costs, maximize yield, and efficiently manage nutrients to protect the environment. Nutrient management plans outline the amount, source placement, and timing of plant nutrients and soil amendments. Nutrient management plans budget, supply, and conserve nutrients for plant production. The plan will include details such as soil information (soil type, surface texture, drainage class, etc), available tests results, results for appropriate risk assessments, crop nutrient budget, and science based recommendations. Tools for nutrient management planning don’t require a large investment. Low-cost methods outlined in a nutrient management plan can be soil and manure testing, in-season planting tissue testing, and enhanced efficiency fertilizer products.

What is a Carbon Farm Plan?

For greenhouse gas emissions reductions, Carbon Sequestration and Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Management Plans, also known as Carbon Farm Plans, are available. These whole-operation conservation plans can be created for cropland, rangeland, pastureland, forestland, and farmstead properties. The plan addresses resource concerns by focusing on opportunities to enhance carbon sequestration and/or greenhouse gas reduction across the operation. Carbon farming optimizes carbon capture on working landscapes by implementing conservation practices that are known to increase the rate at which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored in plant material and/or soil organic matter. Many carbon sequestration conservation practices have direct atmospheric benefits and co-benefits for improving soil health, enhancing soil water holding capacity, and increasing productivity. Once implemented, carbon farm plans bolster agroecosystem resilience to volatile climate changes. 

Why implement conservation plans and practices?

Conservation planning combines your farming experience with science-based knowledge of a conservation planner. By engaging in conservation planning, growers receive no-cost technical assistance that helps manage natural resources on a property to ensure lesser impacts on soil, water, air, plants, and animals. A few benefits to having a conservation plan are: 

  • Save money as your land becomes more productive
  • Increase sustainability by protecting the natural resources that support your business
  • Conserve soil and water for periods of drought and future use
  • Save time, money, and labor
  • Assist in the application process for funding opportunities through agencies such as NRCS (e.g. EQIP) and CDFA (e.g. HSP, SWEEP)
  • Increase farm resiliency in the face of climate variability such as drought and flooding.

Get Connected

If you are interested in developing any of the conservation plans listed above, reach out to:

Conor Higgins, Project Manager
Yolo County RCD
(530) 661-1688 ext. 4
higgins@yolorcd.org