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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Madison, Wisconsin » U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center » Dairy Forage Research » Research » Research Project #441654

Research Project: Comprehensive Soil Health: Conservation & Remediation Practices for Urban Agriculture

Location: Dairy Forage Research

Project Number: 5090-21500-002-016-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2023
End Date: Jul 31, 2024

The ARS PI and the Cooperator will work collaboratively to: Objective 1: Improve long-term soil health and develop sustainable growing practices in the Chicagoland foodshed to increase nutrition and reduce soil toxicity. Objective 2: Provide comprehensive resources to urban farmers for soil amendment implementation following recommendations generated from soil testing. Objective 3: Increase access to resources on culturally-relevant soil health-supporting practices for historically under-served communities. Objective 4: Generate a clearer understanding of the soil conditions urban agriculture practitioners are working in and account for racial equity gaps and inequalities.

The Cooperator will undertake two activities to address the objectives outlined above. For Objective 1, Cooperator will work with local soil scientists and laboratories to analyze and interpret soil test results. Cooperator and their partners have identified soil testing as a critical need due to the high levels of toxins in urban soils. By quantifying toxins and concentrations, growers can start remediation practices to safely grow food in urban soils. For Objective 2, Cooperator will compile comprehensive resources and support for growers to implement amendment recommendations. Cooperator will provide logistical and financial resources to cover the costs of amendments and reduce financial barriers to urban growers. Cooperator and their partners have identified these as resource barriers to implementation of remediation and conservation practices. For Objective 3, Cooperator will work with community partners and local artists with experience in conservation and remediation to host 15 educational workshops and 1 visual art project related to soil health and sustainable growing practices to increase outreach and impact. For Objective 4, Cooperator will work with technical assistance specialists and an evaluator to monitor data and impacts, and analyze broader trends related to environmental issues and create an impact report.