Resources to maximize soil health on farms in California's North Coast region.
Fall 2022: Edition 17

  • Event Alerts: Nicole Masters at Paicines Ranch, EcoFarm Annual Conference 2023, Washington State SoilCon 2023
  • News from the Soil Hub: 2022 Outstanding Partnership Award, Soil Hub website update, grant announcement for Marin and Sonoma - USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities
  • Science Spotlight: Research on biochar and dairy manure compost
  • From the Field: Pollinator plant distribution by Xerces Society
  • New Resources: Electric farm equipment list, wildfire preparedness for land managers, supporting beneficial birds
  • Funding Opportunities: Update on CDFA's Healthy Soils and SWEEP programs
Event Alerts
Reading the Land with Agroecologist Nicole Masters

Paicines Ranch Learning Center is excited to welcome Nicole Masters in leading a two-day workshop that encompasses complex ecological systems thinking. They will explore how listening and observing soil, plants and animals can guide us in identifying indicators of health, what it takes to bring vibrant life back to land, and where to start in taking action.

January 11-12, 2023
Paicines Ranch, CA
EcoFarm Annual Conference

Join EcoFarm for four days of community and connection at the oldest and largest sustainable farming conference in the West.

Featuring over 60 skill-building workshops in English and Spanish, keynotes, pre-conference events, farm tours, seed swaps, tastings, networking, and the EcoFarm Expo.

January 18-21, 2023
Asilomar State Beach and Conference Grounds
Monterey, CA
Washington State University SoilCon 2023: Taking Soil Health Principles to Practice

The Washington State Soil Health Initiative (WaSHI), with support from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE), is happy to announce SoilCon 2023.

This free, virtual conference will bring research, extension, and production together to move soil health principles into practice.

February 14-15, 2023
Latest News from the Soil Hub
North Coast Soil Hub wins an award!
This month at the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts statewide conference, the North Coast Soil Hub was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Conservation Partnership of the Year from USDA-NRCS California. We want to say thank you to all of our amazing partners! We look forward to another year of fostering connections and building soil health across the North Coast region.

Thanks to NRCS California for making a video highlighting the work of the Resource Conservation Districts who coordinate the Soil Hub.
The Soil Hub website has a new look

We've been working behind the scenes to provide an updated website featuring the latest news, soil health resources, and upcoming events. We will continue to build out the soil health resource library over the coming months - please reach out to share your thoughts on the types of resources you would like to see.

Marin and Sonoma RCDs partner to secure a USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant

Marin, Gold Ridge, and Sonoma RCDs partnered with Sonoma County, Marin County, Agricultural Institute of Marin, UC Cooperative Extension, Carbon Cycle Institute, Marin Agricultural Land Trust, Sonoma Regional Climate Protection Authority, Sonoma Farm Bureau, and other local and regional food systems organizations to bring in $10 million to support climate-friendly agriculture across the two counties.
Science Spotlight: Adding biochar to dairy manure compost

Curious about adding biochar during the dairy manure compost process?

This article from UC Merced highlights recent research from Dr. Rebecca Ryals showing that adding biochar to dairy manure compost can significantly reduce methane emissions.

Check out the video below for an overview of the research and information about an ongoing field study.
From the Field: Pollinator plant distribution in Napa County
Xerces pollinator plant giveaway in Napa County
This fall was an exciting and hopeful time for pollinators and monarchs in the North Coast of California, where at least 58 new pollinator habitat plantings (or 8,716 plants!) were installed in Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Marin and Mendocino Counties, thanks to The Xerces Society. Xerces provided Habitat Kits, made of entirely native, regionally appropriate, drought tolerant plants, to farmers, ranchers, and other land managers throughout California.
Napa County’s Monarch Working Group helped Xerces with distributing all those plants to North Coast counties by hosting the pickup site at Napa RCD’s demonstration farm in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. Additionally, members of the Monarch Working Group like Napa RCD, USFWS, NRCS, and Western Monarch Society worked alongside Xerces to sort plants as they arrived by the truck load and provided planting advice to Habitat Kit recipients as they came by to pick up their plants. Napa RCD has been coordinating Napa County’s Monarch Working Group since 2021; the group works closely with the Xerces Society on finding Napa County land managers interested in adding more habitat to their properties and by providing technical assistance to make sure the planting projects are successful. Over 30 pollinator plantings have taken place in Napa County since the group formed.

The Habitat Kits had a special emphasis on monarchs as each kit contained several native milkweed plants to provide breeding habitat for these iconic butterflies. Habitat Kits destined to be planted within 5 miles of the coast did not receive any milkweed, as it is not recommended to plant milkweed that close to monarch overwintering habitat. This year, kit recipients could select between Riparian Hedgerow, Hedgerow, Wildflower Grassland, and Garden Kits.
For more information on this program visit:
Pollinator plant distribution in Napa, photos by Ruby Stahel, Napa RCD; Frank Bradley, USDA-NRCS; and Angela Laws, Xerces Society.
New Resources
Read: Electric Farm Equipment List

Thinking about purchasing electric farm equipment?

Sonoma Resource Conservation District created a handy comparison guide for tractors, UTVs and ATVs.
Read: Ready, Set, Go! Wildfire Preparedness for Farmers, Ranchers and Growers

The Ventura County Fire Department created a wildfire preparedness guide detailing recommendations and checklists for agricultural producers and landowners.

Click the image above to access a downloadable version of the guide or click the button below to access the guide on the Ventura County FD website.
Read: Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds

Brought to you by our partners at Wild Farm Alliance.

The guide is full of information about how to manage pest birds, how to promote pest control through creating bird friendly habitat for species who eat farm pests, and stories of how local farms are co-existing with a variety of birds.
Interested in learning more about how to support beneficial birds on working lands?

Wild Farm Alliance developed a Beneficial Bird Habitat Assessment and Native Plant Tool. Click below to access the tool and a video demonstrating how to use the new tool.
Funding Opportunities
Announcement about CDFA's Healthy Soils Program and State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture's Healthy Soils Program (HSP) and State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) will open later in 2023, with an expected award process taking place in summer 2023.

Stay tuned for more updates regarding the programs, or sign up for email notifications from CDFA at