Jefferson Center and Point Blue Conservation Science awarded Healthy Soils Program grant

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The Jefferson Center for Holistic Management, a Savory Global Network hub serving Northern California and Nevada, partnered with Point Blue Conservation Science to apply for a three-year Healthy Soils Program demonstration project. They were awarded the project to examine the connection of farm profitability to soil health. The project will assess the feasibility of various carbon sequestration practices. 

“We want to understand the investment, practicality and return on investment for the farmer.”

Briana Schnelle, a biologist with Point Blue Conservation Science, grant co-author and lead researcher.

The research will be carried out at Springs Ranch in Fort Bidwell, California, the demonstration site of the Jefferson Center. The grant project will assess carbon sequestration feasibility on Northern California drylands pasture, specifically:

  • Interseeding (intentionally planting grasses, legumes, and forbs)
  • Compost application
  • A combination of compost and interseeding
  • Interseeding in a prescribed grazing plan (the Jefferson Center practices Holistic Planned Grazing).

Briana and Spencer Smith, a Savory Field Professional and co-owner of the Jefferson Center, begin work on the project in July 2019. They will set up monitoring sites on Springs Ranch, collect and analyze data. Soil tests include: organic matter, aggregate stability, base saturation, plant-available nutrients. The team will be using the Haney Test for soil tests. Analysis of soil samples will be conducted by Ward Laboratories, Inc. in Nebraska. The project will also monitor plant species diversity, dung beetle populations on the ranch, bird populations, and other biodiversity indicators.

“The intent is to better understand carbon flows, profitability on farm due to soil health. We expect to see more carbon pools (sequestered carbon) and increased biomass production,” said Spencer Smith. In other words: we hypothesize that there is a positive correlation between healthy soil/increased biodiversity, and healthy profit for the farmer.

Updates on the project will be provided regularly through the Jefferson Center website and newsletter. Point Blue will also share updates. People interested in really digging into the study can join us on the Springs Ranch for field days.

If people want to come see us and learn about the project, but they can’t attend a scheduled field day or ranch tour, please contact us. We want to share our learnings and discoveries.

Abbey Smith, co-owner of the Jefferson Center

The Smiths can be reached at: spencer@jeffersonhub.com and abbey@jeffersonhub.com

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