SOIL HEALTH 

 

Soil is a living and life-giving substance, without which we would perish. As world population and food production demands rise, keeping our soil healthy and productive is of paramount importance. So much so that we believe improving the health of our Nation’s soil is one of the most important conservation endeavors of our time.

A growing number of America’s farmers are using soil health management systems to improve the health and function of their soil. The preceding statements are from NRCS but are supported by the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts.

House Bill 204 addressing soil health in New Mexico was introduced, passed and became law in the 54th Legislature. The bill is attached below for your information.

NM Healthy Soil Working Group

The NM Healthy Soil Working Group is assembling a powerful network of agriculture and conservation organizations, urban and rural residents, consumers and producers alike, with the goal to significantly accelerate soil health stewardship in the state. We aim to catalyze widespread adoption of management principles that result in greater soil health and associated co-benefits, creating prosperous and strong land based communities, nutritious food, a healthy environment and a viable future for our planet. For more information, please visit our website: https://www.nmhealthysoil.org/

New Mexico Soil Health Toolkit

Understanding and Assessing Soil Health to Implement

Management Actions for Sustainable Soil Systems

by Ken and Linda Scheffe

NMACD Development of New Mexico Soil Health Toolkit funded by NRCS New Mexico CIG Grant- New Mexico Soil Health Toolkit, Understanding and Assessing Soil Health to Implement Management Actions for Sustainable Soil Systems. A compilation of published and unpublished materials, 2020. The purpose of the toolkit is to introduce a step-wise management approach and technical resources which can be adapted and integrated in maintaining healthy soil under various agricultural uses. The toolkit is a work in progress and is intended to be used with technical guidance/assistance and to be localized to a particular resource setting. Please refer any questions or comments on the toolkit to Linda and Ken Scheffe, lindascheffe@nmacd.org or kenscheffe@nmacd.org.

The appendix can be requested from Ken and Linda Scheffe.

Tool Kit Supplemental material can be downloaded by clicking on the "pop out" button         on the file list below. Next, choose the "download icon        on the top, right corner of the new tab.:

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On behalf of the Soil Health Institute and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, please find the attached courtesy copy of "Impact of 2018 Farm Bill Provisions on Soil Health." This report provides a comprehensive review of each new provision and its role in advancing soil health, which is the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture.

NRCS-NM -Quivira Coalition Soil Health Grant

Quivira Coalition has been awarded a Soil Health CIG Grant by NRCS-NM. NMACD will provide support to Quivira Coalition in the delivery and follow-up of six producer-led, 1-day, on-farm, soil health workshops to be hosted in each of the 6 New Mexico SWCD regions, as well as other Soil Health training and outreach activities.

WATERSHED DAMS

 
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Watershed Districts

Watershed Districts are formed for the purpose of conservation of water, or of water usage, including water-based recreation, flood prevention, flood control, erosion prevention and control of erosion, and floodwater and sediment damages. The land area in a watershed district must be contiguous and must lie within a well-defined watershed area or sub-watershed areas; and may embrace lands lying in one or more soil and water conservation districts, or lands lying partly within and partly outside a soil and water conservation district. There are now eight active watershed districts in New Mexico since Dona Ana SWCD has recently formed the La Union Watershed District.

Emergency Action Plans (EAPs)

Owners and operators of high hazard dams have a responsibility to develop emergency action plans (EAP)and to keep them current. These plans are developed to reduce the risk to loss of life and property if the dam fails. Many dam owners may not know where to start in developing EAPs or what to include in them.

In 2004, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials (ASDSO) launched a joint effort to develop a sample EAP for earthen high hazard dams. A multi-agency work group was formed. This work group gathered good examples of EAPs from various state and federal agencies, solicited “lessons learned” from persons who had experienced activations of their EAPs, and developed a draft sample EAP that was routed for comment to many groups and organizations.

Based upon the information gathered and comments received, NRCS revised agency policy relating to content and format of EAPs and prepared a final sample EAP. An electronic fillable form, template, instructions, and helpful hints to prepare site specific EAPs were also developed.

The documents that were produced are available on the links listed below:

EAP Factsheet August 2016

Detailed instructions for completing the EAP fillable form

Sample EAP developed using fillable form

EAP Fillable form

For more information, contact the NRCS State Conservation Engineer.

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New Mexico Department of Agriculture received West Regional Award of Merit for exemplary contributions to dam safety in New Mexico.

The New Mexico Office of the State Engineer Dam Safety Bureau nominated NMDA for the ASDSO West Regional Award. This was for completing the Soil and Water Conservation District-Owned Dams Inundation Mapping and Emergency Action Planning Project. The project is a product of NMDA’s Agricultural Programs and Resources Division.

The Dam Inundation Mapping and Emergency Action Planning Project came into fruition in 2014. This was after the New Mexico Legislature provided $1 million to NMDA. This money provided much needed Inundation Maps and Emergency Action Plans to Soil and Water Conservation and Watershed Districts. NMDA also received funding through the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s Hazardous Mitigation Grant Program. This assisted in the completion of five inundation maps and two regional workshops.

WATER TRUST BOARD

 

The 2001 Legislature enacted the Water Project Finance Act which created the Water Project Fund in the New Mexico Finance Authority (NMFA) and charged the NMFA with administration of the Fund and the Water Trust Board (WTB).

The WTB is a diverse 16 member board that recommends to the Legislature projects to be funded through the Water Project Fund. Per New Mexico Statute Annotated (N.M.S.A.) 72-4A-5, Board; duties, the WTB responsibilities are:

“A. Adopt rules governing terms and conditions of grants or loans recommended by the board for appropriation by the legislature from the water project fund, giving priority to projects that have been identified as being urgent to meet the needs of a regional water planning area that has a completed regional water plan that has been accepted by the interstate stream commission; that have matching contributions from federal or local funding sources available; and that have obtained all requisite state and federal permits and authorizations necessary to initiate the project.”

 

Soil and Water Conservation Districts: Please consider applying for a Water Trust Board Grant if your district is interested in doing Watershed Restoration, Endangered Species Habitat Restoration or Flood Protection Dam Rehab. The districts have been ranking very high with their proposals, and several million dollars have been funded through districts in the last few years. Brent Van Dyke and Debbie Hughes now serve on the Water Trust Board. Contact them to help your district.