The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced Friday, October 19, 2018, as the deadline to submit applications under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP is a voluntary conservation program where together, NRCS and agricultural producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.
Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil, and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you. Financial assistance is now available in a variety of agricultural categories such as cropland, forestry, pasture operations, and organic growing practices.
Delaware County producers have several special projects also available to them which address water quality, forestry management, improving pollinator populations, applying best management practices and more. These are listed on the Ohio NRCS website at www.nrcs.usda.gov by selecting “EQIP Application Deadlines” near the middle of the landing page.
Of particular interest to landusers who farm in the Upper Big Walnut watershed are the special funds available under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program entitled “Promoting Best Management Practices for Phosphorus.” This program is a collaborative grant amongst Delaware, Knox, Licking, and Morrow Soil & Water Conservation Districts to improve water quality in the watershed through practices such as residue management, grass waterways, field borders, cover crops, and more, all of which are listed on the Ohio NRCS website. To find out more, contact the NRCS office in your county. The number to the Delaware office is 740-362-4011.
A second source of special EQIP funds is targeted towards implementing conservation measures that remove invasive species in woodlots in Delaware County, specifically brush management and herbaceous weed treatment. Healthy trees and woodlands are part of a comprehensive approach to improving water quality and soil quality. Preventing and containing the spread of invasive species is challenging and is vital to the health of native trees and shrubs.
To participate in USDA conservation programs, applicants should be farmers or farm or forest landowners and must meet eligibility criteria. Applications signed and submitted to NRCS by the Oct. 19 deadline will be evaluated for fiscal year 2019 funding which begins Oct. 1, 2019, and runs through Sept. 30, 2019.
Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District’s mission is Helping You Help the Land. Check out our website at www.delawareswcd.org and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
Bonnie Dailey is deputy director of the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to www.delawareswcd.org.