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Minnesota to spend $475,000 in grants to buy or retrofit soil health equipment

(The Center Square) – Minnesota will provide $475,000 in grants to buy or retrofit soil health equipment, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday.

Applications have opened for the department’s new Soil Health Financial Assistance Pilot Program grants, which are available to individual producers, producer groups and local governments, according to a news release. The grant awards will provide up to 50% cost-share for awards between $500 and $50,000.

“We recognize that building soil health is important to water quality and our other natural resources in Minnesota,” MDA Commissioner Thom Petersen said in the release. “Implementing soil health practices on farms, however, often requires specialized, expensive equipment and machinery. The Soil Health Financial Assistance Pilot Program will help offset equipment costs, helping to expand the number of farmers and acres engaged in soil health activities.”

No-till drills, air seeders, highboys and variable-rate equipment, along with retrofit projects to allow no-till planting and parts and materials used to retrofit existing equipment (unless the tools can be used again on another project) are among the items eligible for grant support.

The soil health efforts are part of the State Water Plan,Nutrient Reduction Strategy, emission reduction targets and Climate Action Framework.

The department said this is one of the first programs to reimburse for equipment. Grant applicants can receive support for buying new or used equipment and parts to retrofit existing equipment.

Local governments that receive grants must make the purchases available for public use.

Applications must state the cost of the equipment, explain how the equipment will improve soil health on a farm and note the number of acres the equipment will be used on. Awarded contracts will last for a year.

Applications involving equipment that will help implement an Natural Resource Conservation Service Resource Management System plan and applicants who belong to historically underserved communities will receive priority, as will applicants who are actively certified or assessed and working toward certification in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program.

Applications are due at 4 p.m. March 20 for the grants.

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