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Resources

Photo credit: CAMPO Collective's Stoneboat Farm, by Jamie Thrower

Disclaimer

 OrCAN shares resources related to  soil health, from a variety of sources. OrCAN does not necessarily endorse all of the content on this page and may not share the views and opinions of the authors or associated organizations. 

Soil Health in Oregon

An introduction to the current state of soil health in Oregon. To stay up to date with the most current announcements about resources and opportunities in Oregon related to soil health and climate resilience, subscribe to our newsletter through our Network Survey. 

Lay of the Land & Levers for Change: Farming for Climate Resilience in Oregon 2021 and Beyond
A report of OrCAN’s findings as a result of focusing on these key questions from March 2020 - June 2021: What does an agricultural economy resilient to a changing climate in Oregon look like? What is already happening in Oregon to make this vision a reality? How do farmers and ranchers need
and want to improve their operations? Where are the gaps in research, outreach, and technical support for farmers?

Oregon Forests and Farms Can Fight Climate Change

January 2020 study from The Nature Conservancy and Portland State University finding that natural and working lands have the potential to reduce emissions and help limit the impacts of climate change when paired with a transition to clean, renewable energy. 

Beating the Heat: Statewide Assessment of Drought and Heat Mitigation Practices (and Needs) with Oregon Farmers and Ranchers

2022 report from Oregon State University Extension Service. Explore a story map summary of the findings, or read the full report. The report provides an overview of what actions are already being taken by producers to manage drought and heat and what resources and support they need to become more resilient in the face of these challenges.

Potential for Conservation Practices to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sequester Carbon on Croplands and Grazing Lands in Oregon

This 2021 state report provides an overview of county-level greenhouse gas (GHG) emission estimates for cropland and grazing land under current and projected conservation management practice scenarios. 

Want to learn more about the state of soil health in Oregon?

The science behind soil health and climate resilient practices

Additional scientific studies, reports, and findings on what soil health and climate resilient practices are, and what their impacts can be, including: carbon sequestration, water and wildlife conservation, and more. Resources in this section are not necessarily specific to Oregon.

What is soil health?

Unlock the Secrets in the Soil: Principles for High Functioning Soils
A resource published by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service which defines soil health and describes the four principles of soil health, associated practices and their benefits. 

ABC's of Soil Health

This Natural Resources Conservation Services interactive story map will walk you through some amazing facts about soil’s role in agriculture while supporting life on this planet. Flip through the ABCs to learn the fundamentals of Soil health, and access a range of videos on soil conservation and management practices. 

In Search of Soil
A weekly podcast hosted and produced by Diego Footer, featuring scientists and experts sharing insights into topics like soil science, composting, cover cropping, biochar, no-till, fungi, and more!

Soil health and climate mitigation

Combating Climate Change on US Cropland: Affirming the technical capacity of cover cropping and no-till to sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

This 2021 report from American Farmland Trust focuses on the significant potential of no-till and cover crop practices to increase soil carbon sequestration and reduce nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions for a net reduction in GHG emissions. It summarizes soil science as well as the social science of practice adoption.

The role of soil carbon in natural climate solutions

This 2020 study examined the role of soil carbon in natural (land-based) climate solutions and estimated that soil carbon could deliver up to 25% of the potential of all natural climate solutions combined (total potential, 23.8 Gt of CO2-equivalent
per year), of which 40% is protection of existing soil carbon and 60% is rebuilding depleted stocks. Specifically, soil carbon comprises 9% of the mitigation potential of forests, 72% for wetlands and 47% for agriculture and grasslands.

Climate Mitigation Potential of Regenerative Agriculture is Significant!

June 2020 report from leading scientists asserting that “the science is clear that regenerative agriculture can in fact contribute significant emission reductions and CO2 removal, as well as improve soil health.” 

Natural climate solutions for the United States

2018 study published in Science Advances. The study quantifies the soil carbon sequestration and reduced greenhouse gas potential of natural climate solutions, including agricultural solutions, in the US. It also recognizes the additional benefits of these solutions for water use efficiency, flood control, soil health, wildlife habitat and climate resilience. 

Carbon Sequestration Potential on Agricultural Lands: A Review of Current Science and Available Practices

A 2015 review that includes a section on Soil Carbon 101, and explores agricultural systems that could sequester carbon.

Climate change mitigation as a co-benefit of regenerative ranching: insights from Australia and the United States

A 2020 study exploring the principles and practices associated with the larger enterprise of ‘regenerative ranching’, which includes managed grazing but infuses the practice with holistic decision-making. The authors argue that this broader approach is appealing due to a suite of ecological, economic and social benefits, making climate change mitigation an afterthought, or ‘co-benefit’.

Practical Application

​These resources focus on the practical application of soil health practices. Resources in this section may be relevant to farmers, ranchers, technical assistance providers, farm service providers, and anyone else implementing, or supporting implementation of, soil health practices.

 

Practices and strategies

Unlock the Secrets in the Soil: Principles for High Functioning Soils

A resource published by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service which defines soil health and describes the four principles of soil health, associated practices and their benefits. 

Train the Trainer: Climate Resilience Training for Agriculture Professionals

OrCAN’s workshop series designed for agricultural technical assistance providers in Oregon. You can find an abundance of resources in our materials and recordings from previous training sessions at the bottom of the Train the Trainer webpage.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Climate-Smart Mitigation Activities

NRCS’ current list of activities that they’ve determined may deliver quantifiable reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and/or increases in carbon sequestration. Many of these practices offer co-benefits and ancillary benefits that help operations build climate change resilience while addressing other natural resource concerns such as soil health, water quality, pollinator and wildlife habitat and air quality.

Soil Health & Carbon Strategies

A compilation of tools, programs, training and resources from the Oregon Association of Conservation Districts’ perspective. See also the website's companion Carbon Sequestration and Soil Health Guidebook. 

Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches

Outlines the new challenges that changing weather patterns pose in agriculture throughout the United States, and what you can do to make your farm more resilient.

Look for These Soil Health Indicators in the Field

Article by the Noble Research Institute describing how to recognize and interpret soil health indicators on your farm or ranch. 

US Biochar Initiative

A not-for-profit organization promoting the sustainable production and use of biochar through research, policy, technology and implementation.

Opportunities and barriers to application 

Understanding Regenerative Agriculture on Native Farms & Ranches

What regenerative agriculture approaches are Native farmers and ranchers implementing on Native lands? What do producers hope to achieve with these practices? What are some of the benefits that come with a regenerative approach? These are just a few of the questions the Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) set out to answer through a series of interviews with staff and several producer members. Explore this page to discover what they had to say.

Soil Health Case Studies

American Farmland Trust quantified the economic and environmental benefits of soil health practices on farms in nine case studies on different farming systems throughout the US. 

Barriers For Farmers & Ranchers To Adopt Regenerative Ag Practices In The US

An incredibly comprehensive look at what we need to transition to more resilient practices centering equity issues and the needs of farmers. Also check out a January 2021 webinar on the report here

A Discussion on Decolonizing Regenerative Agriculture

A recorded conversation featuring A-dae Romero Briones of the First Nations Development Institute and Mark Muller of the Regenerative Agriculture Foundation.

Beating the Heat: Statewide Assessment of Drought and Heat Mitigation Practices (and Needs) with Oregon Farmers and Ranchers

2022 report from Oregon State University Extension Service. Explore a story map summary of the findings, or read the full report. The report provides an overview of what actions are already being taken by producers to manage drought and heat and what resources and support they need to become more resilient in the face of these challenges.

Funding Opportunities

To stay up to date with the most current announcements about resources and opportunities in Oregon related to soil health and climate resilience, including funding opportunities subscribe to our email announcements using our Network Survey. 

Oregon Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) can provide payment for eligible soil health practices. Your local NRCS staff will be able to help you navigate these resources. 

Oregon Community Food Systems Network (OCFSN)

Farmer & Rancher Disaster Resilience Grant Program
This program from Oregon Community Food Systems Network was created to help Oregon’s small farms to be more resilient to climate disasters. Funding is provided for soil health as a climate resilience strategy. 

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB)

Small Grant Program is an easy-to-engage-in, competitive grant program that awards up to $15,000 for on-the-ground restoration projects on private lands across Oregon. This grant could be a great fit for riparian plantings on farms and ranches. Eligible projects include planting or seeding native riparian species, From planting native plants along streamsides to reducing sedimentation and erosion from upland farms and ranches, citizens everywhere can make a difference.


Who can apply: Watershed Councils, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, or Tribes may apply for a small grant on behalf of landowners and other project hosts.

Carbon Markets 

Climate Solutions for Farmers: Invest in Proven Federal Programs, Not Carbon Markets

A report from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

Are Carbon Markets for Farmers Worth the Hype?

A deep dive into the issues around carbon markets from Civil Eats.

Top 10 Things You Wanted to Know About Ag Carbon Markets

The landscape of agricultural carbon markets and programs is changing rapidly, making it hard to keep it all straight. This guidebook was created in 2024 by American Farmland Trust (AFT) policy and science experts for farmers, ag advisors, and conservation professionals seeking in-depth information.

Here's What a Carbon Offset Actually Looks Like

A solid 2020 carbon offset explainer from Outside Magazine.

Cultivate Oregon’s Informative 2020 Soil Symposium Webinar Recordings
This virtual symposium went live on November 10th and 17th of 2020. The symposium goal was to educate farmers, orchardists, vintners, ranchers, landowners, managers, philanthropists, decision-makers, state agency personnel, and others on how farmers can get financial rewards for producing healthy soil.

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