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NRCS sets 8 priorities for funds

To better distribute federal dollars, Nebraska conservation folks have identified eight “primary resource concerns” in the state.

“The goal is to align our budget with these eight priorities,” says Craig Derickson, state conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The eight concerns are:

    soil erosion: sheet and rill, ephemeral, wind, organic matter depletion in crops

    inefficient use of irrigation water for crops

    excess nutrients in surface and groundwater from cropland

    undesirable plant productivity and plant health

    excess pathogens/chemicals from manure, biosolids or compost

    excess plant pest pressure, such as insects and invasive plants, in pasture, rangeland and forest areas

    habitat degradation in crops, rangeland and pastures

    inadequate livestock shelter, such as field and farmstead windbreaks

The list represents the majority of concerns in Nebraska, according to Brad Soncksen, assistant NRCS director for programs in Nebraska. NRCS will use input from natural resources districts and other local leaders to determine the ranking of the concerns in individual NRDs.

Derickson says the NRCS in Nebraska, beginning in 2013, will distribute the payment program funds it receives based on the concerns in the list.

The listing stems from a revised state funding allocation process outlined by Dave White, chief of the NRCS in Washington, D.C. “In the past, we waited for funds to be allocated via a ‘wait-and-see’ approach,” Derickson says. “Our chief [White] has turned that around to a process that is more fitting for a planning agency. [It] is based, in part, on our state resource assessment. The goal is to better align NRCS program resources with actual needs and opportunities in the field offices to address state-identified priority resource concerns.”

Nebraska was ahead of the curve. “We were fortunate to have already completed the Nebraska Resources Assessment that listed the state’s resource concerns,” Derickson says.

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CONSERVING SOIL: Soil erosion is one of the eight NRCS priorities in Nebraska.

This article published in the May, 2012 edition of NEBRASKA FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2012.