Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

Soil Health Principles with Rick Haney


A presentation by Rick Haney of the USDA Agricultural Research Service at the National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health.

The session covered basic soil health principles necessary to build soil health, such as minimizing soil disturbance, keeping the soil covered at all times, growing a living root all year long, and using plant diversity above ground to increase diversity below.  It also reviewed soil health testing procedures.

Watch the video here.

Explanation of Haney Soil Test
The Haney Test is a dual extraction procedure that allows the producer to assess overall soil health. The test is used to track changes in soil health based on management decisions. This test examines total organic carbon and total organic nitrogen to determine a C:N ratio used to make general cover crop recommendations. This test also includes the Solvita CO2 Burst Test to look at microbial activity and potentially mineralizable nitrogen. The weak acid (H3A) extraction represents some available plant nutrients.

Interview with Rick Haney


When Terriers Attack: Working Dogs Return to Their Rat-Hunting Roots


From left: Holy Mole, Itsa Bella Bella, Huckleberry Hunter, Golly Gurl and Grumpy Dog. Bella and Holy Mole now live in Washington state, while Huckleberry has moved to a farm. Golly Gurl and Grumpy Dog are current members of the Mongrol Hoard.

“I can smell the rats,” says Jordan Reed as he walks into a feed mill in a small Northern California town. At his feet are two small dogs, all muscle and alertness. 

Reed, 33, has bright eyes, an auburn beard and a septum piercing, like a bull. He is direct and wry, cracking wise about the expensive-looking rig he’s driving: “All rat catchers drive trucks like this. Just kidding; my friend is out of town and he let me borrow it.” A jack of all agricultural trades, Reed lives on a vineyard in Sonoma County, where he runs a wine cellar. He’s a certified sheep shearer, has raised poultry and worked farmers markets.

From Modern Farmer.  Continue reading the article here.  

Western land managers will need all available tools for adapting to climate change, including grazing


From the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences – Rangeland Watershed Laboratory

In a previous article, Beschta et al. (Environ Manag 51(2):474-491, 2013) argue that grazing by large ungulates (both native and domestic) should be eliminated or greatly reduced on western public lands to reduce potential climate change impacts. The authors did not present a balanced synthesis of the scientific literature, and their publication is more of an opinion article. Their conclusions do not reflect the complexities associated with herbivore grazing. Because grazing is a complex ecological process, synthesis of the scientific literature can be a challenge. Legacy effects of uncontrolled grazing during the homestead era further complicate analysis of current grazing impacts. Interactions of climate change and grazing will depend on the specific situation. For example, increasing atmospheric CO₂ and temperatures may increase accumulation of fine fuels (primarily grasses) and thus increase wildfire risk. Prescribed grazing by livestock is one of the few management tools available for reducing fine fuel accumulation. While there are certainly points on the landscape where herbivore impacts can be identified, there are also vast grazed areas where impacts are minimal. Broad scale reduction of domestic and wild herbivores to help native plant communities cope with climate change will be unnecessary because over the past 20-50 years land managers have actively sought to bring populations of native and domestic herbivores in balance with the potential of vegetation and soils. To cope with a changing climate, land managers will need access to all available vegetation management tools, including grazing.




From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalitionread more here.  

On May 2, USDA released data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture.  The Census of Agriculture has been conducted since 1840 and currently is collected once every five years.  This is the fourth in a series of drilldown posts, looking at particular themes from the Census that relate to beginning farmers and ranchers.

To view the other posts in this series, check out the following links:

Western SARE Competitive Grants Farmer/Rancher Research & Education 2015 Call for Proposals


The Administrative Council of the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program announces the Call for Proposals for Farmer/Rancher Research & Education Grants for 2014. With a Farmer/Rancher Research & Education Grant, a producer, working with a technical advisor, develops a proposal to conduct both research and education on a sustainable agricultural topic and incorporate such items as: on-farm/ranch demonstrations; farmer-to-farmer educational outreach and other approaches to assist in producer adoption in an area of sustainable agriculture. The goal is to achieve results that can be communicated to producers and professionals and can improve income, the environment, communities and quality of life for all citizens.

Farmer/Rancher Involvement: Congress mandates that the SARE grant program depart from “business as usual.” To that end, the Administrative Council requires that agricultural producers (farmers/ranchers) be involved from start to finish in the planning, design, implementation and educational outreach of any SARE-funded Research and Education project.

For more info, please click here.

To apply, please visit:

See the “Helpful Documents” at: Appendixes A-H can be found here.

If you have further questions after consulting this site, please contact our office by phone at 435-797-2257 or email

USDA Announces Programs to Conserve Sensitive Land and Help Beginning Farmers

Programs that Allow Producers to Protect Land and Help New, Minority and Veteran Farmers Get their Start in Agriculture
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that farmers, ranchers and landowners committed to protecting and conserving environmentally sensitive land may sign up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) beginning June 9. The Secretary also announced that retiring farmers enrolled in CRP could receive incentives to transfer a portion of their land to beginning, disadvantaged or veteran farmers through the Transition Incentives Program (TIP).
 “CRP is one of the largest voluntary conservation programs in the country,” said Vilsack. “This initiative helps farmers and ranchers lead the nation in preventing soil erosion, improving water quality and restoring wildlife habitat, all of which will make a difference for future generations.”
 Vilsack continued, “The average age of farmers and ranchers in the United States is 58 years, and twice as many are 65 or older compared to those 45 or younger. The cost of buying land is one of the biggest barriers to many interested in getting started in agriculture. The Transition Incentives Program is very useful as we work to help new farmers and ranchers get started.”
The Conservation Reserve Program provides incentives to producers who utilize conservation methods on environmentally-sensitive lands. For example, farmers are monetarily compensated for establishing long-term vegetative species, such as approved grasses or trees (known as “covers”) to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.