Resources to maximize soil health on farms in California's North Coast region.
Spring 2022: Edition 15

  • Event Alert: Drought Resilience for Vineyards
  • Featured Job Openings: Marin Resource Conservation District
  • From the Field: Orchard compost application in Lake County
  • Field Trial Results: Kenwood tillage trial preliminary results
  • Science Spotlight: Integrated sheep vineyard systems research
  • Listening and Learning: Soil biology webinar from Sonoma RCD, regenerative agriculture & policy report from Natural Resources Defense Council, Soil health and beneficial insects webinar from Xerces Society, regenerative land leasing guide from CA FarmLink
  • Funding Opportunities: Western SARE Research and Education
  • Job Announcements: American Farmland Trust, California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN)
  • What's New at the Hub: Continued expansion
Event Alert: Drought Resilience for Vineyards
Join Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, University of California Cooperative Extension and Anderson Valley Winegrowers for a two day webinar exploring curtailments, voluntary drought initiatives, climate resilience, soil practices under drought, viticulture in drought, management strategies and more! See the flyer for more information.

May 11 – 12 from 8:00am – 12:00pm
Featured Job Openings
Exciting opportunity to join the carbon farming movement! The Marin Resource Conservation District is hiring for two positions:

Carbon Farming Program Manager

Monitoring and GIS Manager
From the Field: Orchard compost application in Lake County
Round River Farm recently completed its 3rd and final year of a Healthy Soils Program grant, applying compost to a 40-acre organic walnut orchard

Read their story to learn about their experience with the Healthy Soils Program application, differences between California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grants, what motivates them to do this work, and lessons they have learned along the way.

From the story: "Some time ago, we heard a story of a walnut grower in Yolo County who watched their crop get washed away in heavy October rains. Degraded and compacted soils that couldn’t take the heavy rain sealed up, and the nuts floated away in the flood water. But this last fall, during the October atmospheric river, we received almost 8 inches of rain in 24 hours in Upper Lake, without even a puddle appearing in our orchard. In the end, we’re very satisfied that we’ve been able to feed our soil in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without the Healthy Soils Program grant. The thick surface layer of worm cast after our summer irrigation and the abundant flush of fall mushrooms is ample affirmation that we are doing the right thing for the soil and for our farm."
Compost application at Round River Farm in Lake County. Photos courtesy of Randy Krag.
Field Trial Results: Preliminary results from Kenwood vineyard tillage trial
Field trial at MacLeod Family Vineyards
In 2016, a field trial at MacLeod Family Vineyards in Kenwood, CA was initiated to investigate the impacts of different types of tillage management on soil moisture retention and soil health. The goal of the study was to identify which tillage technique commonly practiced in the North Coast region, if any, had the greatest impact on soil health and retaining water in the root zone of the soil.

The study examined 3 systems commonly employed in the North Coast region: 
  • no till 
  • alternate row till 
  • full till

Trial site
A site in a zinfandel block was chosen for the trial because of its relatively uniform slope and soil. The trial included 9 total plots, each 100 feet long. A plot included the vine row and adjacent tractor rows on each side. The 9 plots included 3 repetitions of each tillage management system: no till, alternate tilled rows, and full till.
Science Spotlight: Integrated sheep vineyard systems
Researchers from UC Davis investigated the impacts of integrated sheep vineyard systems in Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino. They found that grazing can increase carbon sequestration in vineyard soils and stimulate biological processes that improve soil health, such as N and P cycling.

  • Long-term vineyard grazing increased soil carbon sequestration
  • Soil microbial communities were larger and more active under sheep-vineyard management
  • Soil N and P availability increased under sheep-vineyard management, especially in surface soils
  • Soil structure was similar in both mowed and grazed vineyards
  • Soil salinity is a potential trade-off of integrated sheep-vineyard management

Listening and Learning Opportunities
Watch: Soil Biology and Soil Health webinar

Did you miss the soil biology event that Sonoma RCD and the North Coast Soil Hub hosted in February? You can find a recording of the event here.
Watch and read: Video series and report on regenerative agriculture from NRDC

The Natural Resources Defense Council produced a report titled, "Regenerative Agriculture: Farm Policy for the 21st Century." Find the report, along with a series of videos on regenerative agriculture at their website.
Watch: Soil Health and Beneficial Insects: Beyond Bees and Butterflies

Listen to St. Clair Region Conservation Authority and the Xerces Society discuss the diversity of soil invertebrates, their role in soil health, and gardening and farming practices that support soil life.
Read: Guide to Regenerative Land Leases from California FarmLink

California FarmLink and TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation teamed up to create this resource focused on land leases that support regenerative grazing practices. This guidebook aims to empower private, nonprofit, and public landholders, as well as easement-holders and grazing tenants. It supports leases that incentivize management that fosters and restores diverse and healthy ecosystems, just and thriving communities, and profitable farm and ranch businesses.
Funding Opportunities
Western SARE Research & Education Grants

Grants available for researchers and at least three producers to develop a proposal on sustainable agriculture education and research. Outreach activities may include on-farm/ranch demonstrations, farmer-to-farmer educational activities, and other approaches to assist producer adoption of sustainable agricultural practices. Applications are due May 19, 2022
Upcoming Workshop Series for North Coast Farmers
Your input is requested!

The upcoming workshop series is a collaboration between Conservation Work’s Cultivating Commerce Program and the Community Alliance of Family Farmers (CAFF).

"We're excited to announce a free new hybrid in-person and online workshop series for farmers on the North Coast, with a special focus on small and beginning farmers and ranchers. This series will take place this summer, and feature a variety of speakers, subjects, and additional learning opportunities."
Job Announcements
Bi-Lingual Spanish California Farms for a New Generation Outreach Specialist

American Farmland Trust
Policy Director
Director of Communications and Partnerships

California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN)
What's New at the Hub
If you are new to the North Coast Soil Hub, welcome to our quarterly newsletter! We are expanding to serve all farmers and ranchers in the North Coast region of California. Please share with friends in the agricultural community who could benefit from our soil health network!