The American Farmland Trust currently has four-to-five-year projects dedicated to showcasing farmer-driven transitions that will improve soil health through cover crops and other soil health adoption practices. There are fifteen farms across the United States a part of this program, four of which are in California and one in the Central Valley.
The farmer, a part of this project from the Central Valley, grows Asian vegetables. It is a four-year project and the smallest acreage out of the fifteen. The farmer will manage two 0.75-acre plots for the next four years. One 0.75-acre plot will be the Treatment plot, with compost being applied annually in the winter before daikon radish is planted in the spring. The other 0.75-acre plot will be the Control plot farmed identically but without compost.
Over the next four years, the soil from the two plots will be tested by two labs to determine the soil health gains from the compost application. The economic impacts of compost application will also be assessed over the next four years on the Central Valley farm.
The Sierra RCD, Agriculture, and Rangeland team were able to join Paul Lum with the American Farmland Trust to take the initial soil samples on the two plots. Along with the soil samples, penetrometer readings, bulk density, and NRCS In-field soil health analysis were completed. The soil samples were sent to the lab and designated as the initial samples taken before the compost is added and the growing season begins for the daikon radish.
By the end of this project, AFT plans to understand the soil health, environmental, economic, and social impacts of soil health adoption practices. Therefore, this project is of great importance, especially for the Central Valley farmers who could learn a lot from the findings of the Central Valley farm plot as part of the project.
We appreciate the American Farmland Trust and thank Paul Lum for inviting us to help with the soil sampling for the project. We look forward to following the project and learning more from the findings when completed.