The Glenn County Resource Conservation District is partnering with California Olive Ranch and Chico State’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems on a project to improve soil health in an olive orchard near Artois. 

According to a press release, the project will entail the planting of a diverse mix of cover crops in half of an olive orchard for three years to advance the orchard’s soil health, sequester carbon into the soil, study the improvements and expand the conversation of healthy soils using cover crops. 

Researchers from Chico State will be assessing changes in the soil over the course of three years or cover cropping to quantify the extent that cover crops are improving the soil health and increasing soil carbon. 

The Glenn County RCD and its partners will host on-farm field days over the next three years at the orchard to highlight what cover crops can do for soil and help increase understanding of how this practice may be implemented, according to the press release. The first on-farm field day is scheduled in spring of 2021. 

The project is following four principles of soil health identified by the Natural Resources Conservation Service:

–Keep the soil covered as much as possible.

–Disturb the soil as little as possible.

–Keep plants growing throughout the year to feed the soil.

–Diversify as much as possible using cover crops. 

Soil health benefits expected from cover cropping include improved water infiltration, biological nitrogen fixation, increase in soil organic matter, and increase in carbon sequestration. 

“The Glenn County RCD is excited about this new project and looks forward to the continued implementation of its mission, ‘to promote a sustainable, economically healthy county through services and management of natural resources while maintaining a desirable environment and addressing local resource issues and opportunities in a timely manner,’” it was stated in the press release.

Funding for this project was provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture Healthy Soils Program.

For more information about the RCD and its projects, visit www.glenncountyrcd.org.

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