New Legislation Would Improve Soil Health and Water Quality
ARLINGTON, VA | January 29, 2018
Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, D-Ohio, introduced the Collaborative Water and Soil Enhancement Act of 2018 today. The bill aims to help farmers adopt soil health and water quality management practices that support conservation efforts.
“The next Farm Bill is a huge opportunity for the Department of Agriculture and the private sector to work together to help more farmers manage land in ways that enhance soil health and reduce nutrient runoff,” said Lynn Scarlett, The Nature Conservancy’s co-chief external affairs officer. “We thank Rep. Fudge for introducing legislation that would lead to cleaner water and air; less erosion and nutrient loss; and healthier, more productive soils on millions of acres across the U.S.”
Healthy soils support food production, help filter water, trap carbon dioxide and sustain one-fourth of the world’s biodiversity. Soils with more organic matter also require less irrigation, making them critical for keeping farmland productive while increasing the resiliency of crops in the face of drought.
Effective nutrient management enables sustainable farms, diverse ecosystems and healthy communities—and it plays an important role in fighting dead zones. Techniques such as planting cover crops and restoring natural areas, especially around rivers and streams, capture nutrients before they end up in waterways. With the right practices in place, farmlands can stop nutrients from getting into lakes and oceans, where they would cause overgrowth of algae and lead to dead zones.
Fudge’s bill would strengthen the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), two voluntary conservation programs in the Farm Bill that incentivize soil health and nutrient management practices. Through the bill’s emphasis on engagement with the private sector, certified agricultural specialists would help farmers adopt soil health and nutrient management practices on at least 5 million new acres of land each year. These efforts would specifically target watersheds where nutrient delivery to dead zones is highest.
“We are very grateful to Rep. Fudge for introducing this important legislation to improve soil health,” said Jessica D’Ambrosio, agriculture project director for the Conservancy’s Ohio program. “This bill would further strengthen our agricultural conservation efforts in Ohio and help the state more effectively address algal blooms and hypoxic zones in Lake Erie and the Ohio river basin.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.