It is time to submit applications for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) through USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Agricultural producers have an incentive to manage their operations with a conservation outlook since their livelihood depends on the quality of the soil and water they use to produce the food, fiber, forage, and fuel for the world’s growing population.

EQIP is one of the best programs to assist local producers with installing conservation practices on their land. It was established to address resource concerns on cropland, pastures, and forests. EQIP provides financial assistance for conservation management and practices as well as for technical assistance to develop a conservation plan. These practices benefit the public by improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, improving soil health and wildlife habitat, and conserving energy.

Applications are accepted at local Natural Resources Conservation Service offices on a continuous basis with the current sign up period ending on Friday, Nov. 18, 2016.

A special EQIP sign up is open that date, for those in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed who would like to implement phosphorus reducing best management practices. Funding for this program comes through the USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed covers parts of Delaware, Knox, Licking, and Morrow counties.

Practices may include: cover crops, field borders, filter strips, conservation cover, reduced tillage and residue management, structures for water control, nutrient management, drainage water management, conservation crop rotation, underground outlets for water quality, grass waterways, grade stabilization structures, and amending soil properties with gypsum products.

If you are interested in learning how to protect your natural resources while promoting agricultural production as well as the specifics of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, call your local NRCS office. For those in the Upper Big Walnut Creek watershed call:

Delaware NRCS at 740-362-4011.

Knox NRCS at 740-392-7806.

Licking NRCS at 740-670-5330.

Morrow NRCS at 419-946-3755.

Deadlines are fast approaching. Eligible producers who sign up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program may receive a payment based on the statewide average cost for installing planned conservation practices. Socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers are eligible for a higher payment rate. Veteran farmers who are also new or beginning farmers receive the higher payment rate. It is recommended that agricultural producers call and schedule an appointment to start the application process.

For additional conservation ideas visit the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District’s new website at

Bonnie Dailey

For The Gazette

Bonnie Dailey is deputy administrator for the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District.