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Soil health equipment grants availableSoil health equipment grants available

Additional money is available after success of pilot project.

Kevin Schulz

July 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Tractor cultivating a field
IMPROVING SOIL HEALTH: The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has $2.375 million in cost-share grants available in each of the next two years. The grants are for farmers to use to purchase equipment that will improve soil health on their farms.Farm Progress

Interest in a soil health equipment grant pilot program earlier this year shows just how involved Minnesota farmers are in the improvement of their soils.

This project through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture had about $500,000 available for producers to purchase or retrofit equipment to help with the soil health journey.

“It was a pretty competitive opportunity,” says Jessica Jurcek of that pilot project. Jurcek is a Minnesota Ag Water Quality Certification Program project specialist with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “There were 230 applications totaling $6.5 million, and we only had $500,000 for grants.” Sixteen applicants received grants.

The Minnesota Legislature saw the interest in that pilot project and has now upped the ante to $2.375 million in grants for each of the next two years. Jurcek says grants will range from $500 to $50,000 in up to 50% cost-share for purchase of new or used equipment, as well as parts to retrofit existing equipment — and all equipment must advance soil health in Minnesota.

Jurcek says individual farmers, producer groups and local government agencies are eligible to apply.

The application will require the cost of the equipment, an explanation of how the equipment will be used to advance soil health on your farm and the number of acres the equipment will be used on, among other information.

Hold off on buying

Though farmers will be anxious to get the ball rolling, Jurcek encourages them to wait to purchase equipment until they have been approved to receive a grant. “These are reimbursement grants, so we cannot give you money for equipment that you have already purchased,” she says. She presented information on the program at a Minnesota Soil Health Coalition field day July 6 held at the Matt Tiffany farm near Redwood Falls, just a day after the dates and dollar amounts of the program were finalized.

The application link and request for proposals will be available by Aug. 1, and applications are due Sept. 15.

Jurcek says the MDA hopes to have grant recipients announced by the first of the year “at the latest, but probably more like the end of November, early December.” Upon grant approval, there will be additional paperwork — a process that typically takes a week.

“So, you probably would be able to spend the money by the middle of December — but at the latest, the middle of January,” she says.

Not ready to make an equipment purchase? Jurcek encourages farmers to keep the program in mind, as the pool of $2.375 million remains in place for next year.

Visit the MDA website for more information or contact Jurcek with questions at 651-802-3059 or [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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