Whole orchard recycling is a pricey practice, but financial assistance is on the way. The California Department of Food and Agriculture is looking to include the method in its Healthy Soils Incentives Program. U.C. Cooperative Extension’s Brent Holtz has been researching the practice for over a decade and said the benefits include increased nutrients, water holding capacity, and of course, carbon sequestration.
CDFA now Accepting Public Comment to Add Whole Orchard Recycling into its Healthy Soils Program
(CDFA) — CDFA is currently seeking public comment on the inclusion of the Whole Orchard Recycling practice into its Healthy Soils Incentives Program. This management practice will be in addition to the current 26 management practices allowed under the Healthy Soils Incentives Program. Healthy Soils practices sequester carbon and reduce climate warming greenhouse gases.
Whole Orchard Recycling is a practice by which orchards are chipped and incorporated back into the soil. As an alternative to burning, it builds soil organic carbon and microbial biomass, which improves soil health, nutrient levels, structure and water retention. The scientific process developed for quantifying carbon sequestration and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions in agroecosystems has been validated by modeling Whole Orchard Recycling, in partnership with the California Air Resources Board, for more than nine years in an experimental field trial at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension station of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension.
“We are excited to propose a new science-based management practice to be added to the existing list of carbon sequestration practices under the Healthy Soils Incentives Program,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This will allow growers to put a valuable carbon pool from their fields back into the soil, and further climate change adaptation and resiliency.”
A summary of the results and report was presented at the October 17, 2019, public meeting of the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel in San Luis Obispo.
“This practice is timely with California’s increased acreage dedicated to orchard crops and will certainly give farmers another practice to try as part of the Healthy Soils Incentive Program,” said Jocelyn Bridson, Chair of the Environmental Farming Act Science Advisory Panel.
The report for public comment can be found here. The public comment period will be open for three weeks from Friday, October 25 through November 15.
The research was supported by California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment — particularly in disadvantaged communities.
Comments should be submitted to CDFA.OEFI@cdfa.ca.gov no later than November 15, 2019, 5 p.m. PST. For questions, please contact CDFA Public Affairs at 916-654-0433.