New Hampshire Healthy Soils Policy

Including soil health and soil conservation in the state soil conservation plan

  • Introduced 1/6/2021
  • Passed the House 4/7/2021
  • Passed the Senate 6/24/2021
  • Signed by the Governor 7/30/2021

Legislation:

HB199 

Sponsors: 

Description:

This bill amends current provisions relative to soil conservation to include soil health and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

HB 199 works by expanding the annual state conservation plan, prepared by the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, to include farming practices that preserve and improve soil health to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, including drought. This is done through agreements with producers or through other voluntary methods. Conservation Districts are instructed to promote soil health practices as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation within the context of voluntary conservation measures. 

This bill also defines plant biostimulant and allows the department of agriculture, markets, and foods to make rules relative to the sale and use of plant biostimulants.

Soil Health Definition:

“‘Soil health’ means the overall composition of the soil, including the amount of organic matter in and water holding capacity of the soil, and the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.”

Stated Goals:

  • The purpose of the state conservation plan is “to preserve and improve soil fertility and soil health; to promote mitigation of and adaptation to climate change and environmental change; to promote the economic use and conservation of land; to diminish exploitation and wasteful and unscientific use of natural soil resources; to protect rivers and waterways against the results of soil erosion and aid in flood control; and to reestablish and maintain the ratio between the purchasing power of the net income per person on farms and that of the income per person not on farms”;
  • The goal for Conservation Districts is “to facilitate the joint effort of landowners, land occupiers, and units of government in carrying out measures for the conservation and development of lands within the district, voluntarily and with such assistance as may be available for this purpose from local, state, or federal governmental agencies”.

Program Required Measurements:

  • None specified

Tools & Guidance: 

Conservation Districts may: 

  1. Conduct surveys, investigations and research;
  2. Conduct demonstration projects, including in order to demonstrate “how healthy soils practices can aid in mitigation of and adaptation to climate and environmental change”;
  3. “Carry out preventive and control measures and works of improvement for the health, conservation, and development of the soil, water, and related natural resources within the district”;
  4. Collaborate or contract with other agencies and landowners and disburse grants to carry out such improvements or preventative measures; 
  5. Acquire, maintain, administer and improve property;
  6. Offer  incentives, education, technical assistance, equipment and materials on a voluntary basis in order to foster drought resilience and adapt to a changing climate and environment;
  7. Construct, improve, operate and maintain structures;
  8. “Develop comprehensive plans for changes in land use and for the health, conservation, and development of the soil, water, and related natural resources, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, for land drainage, [and] for the prevention of floodwater and sediment damages within the district and for mitigation of and adaptation to climate and environmental change”;
  9. Accept state or federal funding, donations, gifts, and contributions to carry out operations and act as agent for the United States;
  10. Accept payment for conservation work carried out on private lands.

Funding Source/s: 

  • State or federal funding
  • Private donations, gifts, and contributions
  • Contracts

Funding Type/s: 

  • None specified

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

“’Healthy soils practices’ mean agricultural practices that improve the health of soils, including but not limited to consideration of depth of topsoil horizons, water infiltration rate, organic carbon content, nutrient content, bulk density, biological activity, biological and microbiological diversity, and minimization of bare ground.”

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • N/A

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media:

N/A


Last updated 8/6/21


Questions?

Contact NewHampshire@healthysoilspolicy.org