Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Soil Health Initiative and WSDA looking for samples, participants

Dani Gelardi
WSDA Soil Health Scientist

Healthy soil is the key to success in farming. With healthy soil, farms are more successful, our environment is cleaner, and Washington can keep growing nutritious food for generations to come. With more than 300 different commodities grown in the state, healthy soil looks different from place to place and from crop to crop. 


Soil sampling. 

In the fall of 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA) awarded a $500,000 specialty crop block grant to WSDA’s Natural Resources Assessment Section (NRAS) that funded a soil health survey project in partnership with Washington State University (WSU). In spring of 2020 the state Legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 6306 that created the Washington Soil Health Initiative (WaSHI), which provided $200,000 of additional funding to NRAS for more soil health research and outreach.

WSDA looking for more soil samples

Researchers have already been collecting soil samples as part of this initiative. But as the program begins to launch, coordinators are looking for Washingtonians who may be interested in contributing soils data to the WaSHI State of the Soils Assessment

If you’re a grower, an agricultural professional, a graduate student, or a conservation district staff member who wants to soil sample, we want to hear from you. 

Beginning in March of 2022, WSDA will pay for a laboratory soil health analysis for eligible projects, in exchange for support in collecting soil samples and grower management surveys. WSDA will also provide training and individualized soil health reports for participating growers. 

Soils data will be used to measure soil health across different regions and crops in Washington. This information will help WSDA protect grower livelihoods, environmental sustainability, and food security in Washington.

The deadline to apply to participate is 5 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. For more information or to apply, visit the NRAS Partnerships in Soil Health webpage

WSDA will also be hosting a virtual Q&A on Tuesday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m.