Many of you know that if you're needing a water and sediment control basin (wascob) or other structure, such as a grassed waterway, there might be an opportunity to obtain cost-share through a government program. That means a visit to either your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office, or to your local soil and water conservation district (SWCD) and/or Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) office.
If your practice qualifies for the Continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CCRP), then cost-share may be a real possibility. However, it's possible that funds in your county are already committed for this fiscal year. EQIP is another option, but that program requires a longer commitment. Funding may also be limited for EQIP as well.
Here's a call for you to investigate other options. Many of you, just by where you live, may be eligible for conservation cost-share, and may not even know it. If you live or farm land in a watershed that's being developed through what's called a 319 grant, you may have special options someone farming outside of the watershed can't get.
The 319 program is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but administered in Indiana by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). A number of two-year grants are in force across Indiana at the present time. Many of these grants are often extended for two additional years. When that happens, part of the extended contract usually involved cost-share dollars to get practices on the land.
The Johnson County SWCD is just beginning phase II of an aggressive program, designed to improve water quality in Young's Creek in Johnson County. A key part of this second phase, organizers say, is cost-share for various practices. So far, few farmers have made application.
In the Sand Creek Watershed in Decatur County, Bob Dawson cost-shares on more than just structures. He actually cost-shares for planter attachments and other equipment needs that someone believes they can use to no-till. Last spring, several farmers put on residue wheels and other techno-gadgets through the cost-share program.
Jeremy Palmer is agronomy technician for the St. Joseph Rivershed Project in Allen County. There, the SWCD offers several tools for rent. Many are the new harrows, billed as part of the new wave of vertical tillage. The district makes these tools available at low cost so that farmers can try them out and see which, if any, might have potential in reduced tillage systems.
Contact your NRCS, SWCD and/or FSA offices today to see if any of the land that you farm might qualify for special cost-sharing.