With spring planting operations getting underway, now is a good time for farmers to evaluate their land and see if problem areas can be resolved by enrolling acres into the continuous Conservation Reserve Program, according to USDA officials.
Steve Chick, Natural Resources Conservation Service State Conservationist, says that sites where erosion is causing rills in a field, areas along water bodies where sediment and chemicals might be trapped, or protection for homes or livestock with a windbreak are all good reasons a buffer strip practice may be of benefit.
As its name implies, the continuous CRP is open for application at any time. It differs from the general CRP in that it is geared to small tracts of land, not whole fields. Also, the general CRP has specific dates in which to apply. However, Mike Johanns, USDA secretary, has announced that there will be no general CRP sign-up this year and likely not one in 2008 either.
There are nine different buffer strip practices available in the continuous CRP: filter strips, riparian filter strips, windbreaks, contour buffer strips, vegetative wind barriers, field borders, cross wind trap strips, and grassed waterways. Each of them allows farmers to target in on a problem area or to prevent a problem, Chick says.
In southwest and east central Nebraska, there are also two separate multi-county areas called Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program areas that offer added incentive payments for buffer practices.
The practices receiving the most interest and acres in application are: filter strips - 21,700 acres, riparian filter strips - 3,200 acres, windbreaks - 29,700 acres, and grassed waterways - 2,100 acres.
Brian Wolford, Farm Service Agency state director, says both of these CREP areas are in a continuous sign-up process. There may also be some added state funds through the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program.
"Any interested producer should first stop at the FSA office to confirm land eligibility. Applications can be considered for grass planting yet this spring or delayed until fall after the crops are removed," Wolford says.
Producers interested in enrolling acres into the continuous CRP should stop at the FSA or NRCS office serving their county.