Sustainable Conservation Profile picture
May 3, 2023 38 tweets 12 min read Read on X
HAPPENING NOW! Join us as we explore the soil-water nexus and what it means for California's climate goals Image
Dr. Sarah Castle welcomes everyone and gives a little more information about @SusCon_CA & our BRAND NEW soil health program

Thanks to our amazing sponsors @esassoc @Holland_Knight @IronHorseVyds & @SpottswoodeWine!
If you missed our first #webinar in our soils series, you can watch it right here
Let's welcome our panel members: Janaki Anagha, Director of Community Advocacy at @CWaterC, @HDWaterhouse of UC Santa Cruz, and @SusCon_CA's Policy Director, Charles Delgado

Each comes in today with a wealth of expertise on soils, and unique perspectives
Anagha shares more info about Community Water Center and the communities who work with the org on water quality and quantity issues as a result of agricultural development in California
Anagha comes from a farming and soils background, and sees soil as inextricably linked with the lives of community members on the ground and their challenges - especially insecure, contaminated drinking water
"As we ask ourselves how we can heal soil, we ultimately end up with the question of how we can heal our agricultural system"
Delgado came to SC from the State Water Board and helped us make a real link between our water quality & quantity work and the potential of healthy soils to help us meet our goals

We know there are beneficial practices, and translating them into our current reg environment...
... is both a challenge and an opportunity to collaborate, encourage implementation and adoption, and quantifying benefits
Dr. Waterhouse is a soil scientist first and foremost, so she centers that in her work

"Soil is at the interface of water and air - the quality of all three determines human and ecosystem health"
What makes soil so important for water quality and quantity?

Waterhouse kicks us off with a metaphor: soils are a scaffolding for microorganisms, and how we manage it influences the abundance and activity of these small construction workers/engines in our soil ecosystem
They have a huge impact on how water flows into and out of soils. They hold soil in place during big rain events, which means less topsoil erosion and nutrient runoff to our sensitive water bodies
They also increase infiltration to make sure that water makes it to our aquifers, and even hold water in our soils to make a sponge-like environment that both filters contaminants and keeps water available for plants
One of the main nutrients plants need - and can potentially contaminate our groundwater - are nitrates

Chemistry-wise, nitrates are super mobile in our soil, so if we irrigate right after we apply nitrogen it's very likely to make it into our aquifers
Nitrates have a host of human-health related hazards, and they interfere with the body's ability to absorb oxygen from our blood

So, how do we balance what plants need with protecting our drinking water?
Anagha points out that if soils are organically fertile (if we've built up all those microbial communities, etc.) we'll have to apply less synthetic nutrients

Nitrate is one of the regulated contaminants under the Safe Drinking Water Act, so this drives most change
But we can have a holistic, far-reaching conversation

"We come to the question of soil health by looking at a lot of variables - it's not just a one-shot question of 'is there nitrate, or xyz in this soil' - and that's how we want to approach community health as well"
#Groundwater is the most common drinking water source in the San Joaquin Valley - most community wells draw from shallower aquifers that are the most likely to be contaminated

The $$ to fix these problems is high - but mitigation won't fix the source issue
If we can "shut off the faucet" to begin with, we stand a better chance of safeguarding communities

And it's even more complicated now with the extreme drought and flood cycles we see in California - our "weather whiplash"
Just because there's surface water - a LOT of surface water - doesn't mean it's making it back into aquifers, and if it does, it doesn't mean it's doing so safely unless we recharge with water quality in mind…
Anagha also speaks to subsidence - another acute issue that can't be fixed immediately by better soil health, but can be addressed over time if we put some of these practices in place
Delgado digs into the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) - our state road map aiming to bring our groundwater resources back into balance

California was one of the last states in the country to implement a groundwater use framework & we have a fraught water history
For more on the ins and outs of SGMA and what it means for #cawater management…
As we try to implement the plans formed under SGMA, we're starting to see the first limitations on groundwater pumping

Re: water quality, there're a few regulatory mandates & bodies growers have to comply with when it comes to nitrate applications and limits
For more on the intersection of all of these (complicated!) and potentially complimentary policies and groups, check out our former GrizzlyCorps fellow Mikayla Tran's work…
How's CA focusing on #soils and water together?

Locally, measuring ET (evapotranspiration) and other monitored factors can give us a sense of how much water plants take up, how much evaporates, and how much makes it back into the aquifer or is held in our soils = baseline
"We're all learning, but farmers are learning with their livelihood"

Incentives and state support will be key for growers to try things that can boost soil health - and technical assistance helps them monitor, assess impact, and tweak to their specific growing conditions
How can we get policies to do good things?

Anagha says that through an environmental justice framework, soil health is an alliance-building opportunity - and how the ag industry can shift how they think about soil --> a living thing
We can't just regulate for minimum outcomes or basic survival - we can build a healthy, living environment with thriving microbes to grow nutritious food, and protect farmworker and community health
"Creating policy that's responsive to this time means looking at communities the way we look at the soil beneath our feet. How do we cultivate life and maintain a healthy environment?

It's all about the little guys who live in the soil, and sustaining that life"
Waterhouse mentions looking at all the trade-offs in our strategies, and uses land fallowing as an example

SGMA will lead to some land fallowing, which equals less groundwater use but air quality issues with that fallowed land if we don't consider how it's used
Waterhouse also mentioned cover cropping incentives - while they can be helpful, many growers mention they can conflict with their cropping timelines, have strict biomass requirements AND use water to grow
Additionally, if a farmer owns land they have a chance to see the long-term benefits of soil health practices

If a farmer leases land, they likely won't - incentives need to exist, and they in turn need to be accessible
For more on Ag Order 4.0 and the cover crop incentive included, check out our blog…
Q&A time!
Stay tuned for a recording of this event, and for more gatherings like this one in our series
Become a California Conservationist today to support our events and experts as we chart a course for #cawater - receive exclusive benefits for as little as $5/month!… Image
Connect with us:
SusCon newsletter -
Twitter –
Instagram –…
LinkedIn –…
Facebook –…

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Sustainable Conservation

Sustainable Conservation Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us!