Policies on Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration

Some of compost’s most valuable benefits yield from its ability to efficiently build and bolster soil health. Compost application increases soil organic matter, in turn reducing the need for chemical fertilizers, building soil biodiversity, decreasing the likelihood of plant disease and pest issues, increasing soil capacity to absorb water, and building soil’s overall resilience to extreme weather. Thus, compost’s role in building soil health is particularly important to farmers for maintaining farm soil health.

Application of compost to soils not only builds healthier soils, but also contributes to carbon sequestration and storage. In accordance with soil health science, many state and local governments are enacting policy measures that consider the benefits of composting with the understanding of soil’s ability to preserve ecosystems, bolster biodiversity, support food systems, build resilience, and even mitigate climate change. Featured here are examples of policies that aim to bring these benefits of soil health and carbon sequestration to fruition through the encouragement of soil-supportive practices.

*Not all model legislation actually makes it into law. Check out this crowd-sourced State healthy soils policy tracker map that includes passed, drafted, and related policy as well as policy activity on healthy soils.

California – Healthy Soils Program

In 2017, the California Healthy Soils Program (HSP) was launched with the goal of sequestering carbon, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improving soil health in the state.… Read More

Hawai’i – Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force

In June 2018, Hawaii’s Governor Ige signed HB 2182 into law as “Act 15,” establishing a permanent Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force in the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development. Act 15 repealed Act 33 (2017), replacing the Carbon Farming Task Force with the new Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GHGSTF).… Read More

New York – Soil Health and Climate Resiliency

New York State’s Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act aims to reduce the effects of farming on climate change and to enable farmers to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change by focusing on sustainable water management and soil health on farms. It establishes the Soil Health and Climate Resiliency Act, the Soil Health Program, and the Climate Resilient Farming Initiative. … Read More

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Sophia Jones

Sophia Jones is a Policy Fellow with ILSR’s Composting for Community initiative, where she researches, analyzes and supports the building of US policy that advances local composting. Her background in sustainable development and agriculture reflects her interest in solutions-based, community-led development initiatives.