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i_wrrc_2018a_2018-08-07t09:03:47z3 Hearing Summary




PUBLIC
BILL SUMMARY For BENEFITS OF HEALTHY SOIL

INTERIM COMMITTEE  WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
Date Aug 7, 2018      
Location HCR 0112



Benefits of Healthy Soil - Committee Discussion Only

02:00:00 PM  

The committee came back to order.

02:00:30 PM  

Dr. Matthew Wallenstein, Dr. Jim Ippolito, and Dr. Steven Fonte, Colorado State University, introduced themselves to the committee.  The panel distributed a copy of their presentation to the committee [Attachment D].  The panel discussed soil erosion caused by wind and water and how that impacts soil health.  Soil health is the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans.  Healthy soil supports has physical, chemical, and biological benefits and supplies nutrients to crops.  Dr. Fonte discussed soil structure and how well aggregated soil improves water capture and soil control.  Dr. Ippolito discussed how the health of soil, and specifically soil moisture can improve with reduced tillage.  He provided an example of how strip tillage can improve soil health and decrease soil erosion.

02:14:04 PM  

Dr. Wallenstein discussed practices for restoring soil organic matter and soil health including reduced tillage technologies, residue and retention, integration of cover crops, organic matter additions, and other soil additives.  He also discussed innovation and job creation in this sector.  Dr. Wallenstein provided the committee with examples of companies investing in healthy soil technology.

02:17:32 PM  

The panel responded to questions from the committee regarding the application of biochar in healthy soil and discussed the nutritive value of trees killed by pine beetles.  The panel also responded to questions regarding the impediments of investing in healthy soil practices, and discussed the uncertainty of the return on investment with regards to healthy soil practices.  Dr. Wallenstein emphasized the importance of educating farmers on healthy soil practices.  The panel also responded to questions from the committee regarding microbes in the soil and the impact of fallowing on agricultural soil.  Committee discussion ensued regarding the availability of biochar materials.

02:32:19 PM  

Committee discussion continued, and the panel responded to questions concerning soil erosion in Colorado.

02:39:30 PM  

Clint Evans, U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), introduced himself to the committee and provided a background on USDA-NRCS.

02:46:00 PM  

Hilary Cooper, San Miguel County Commissioner, introduced herself to the committee and provided the committee with information on farmers and ranchers' struggles in San Miguel County, specifically citing struggles in maintaining the land.  Ms. Cooper discussed soil health and possible solutions to increase the emphasis on soil health as a statewide policy.  Ms. Cooper responded to questions from the committee regarding the prioritization of soil health funding at the state level.

02:58:48 PM  

Helen Silver, Environmental Management Attorney, introduced herself to the committee and responded to questions from the committee regarding possible draft legislation that would create a soil health program at the state level.  Ms. Silver and Ms. Cooper distributed two possible pieces of legislation for the committee's consideration [Attachment E] and [Attachment F].  Dr. Wallenstein continued to respond to questions from the committee regarding possible legislation.  Committee discussion ensued.