Conservation funding aims to improve irrigation efficiency, protect and enhance sage-grouse habitat, manage livestock and reduce soil loss

nvfarmbureauFeatured, Nevada Ag News

Apply by October 20 for Fiscal Year 2018 EQIP Funding

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering financial and technical assistance to help agricultural producers apply conservation practices on their private land as well as their public land allotments. Agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for funds available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications must be received before 4 p.m. on October 20, 2017 to be considered in the first batching period.

 EQIP is a voluntary, financial assistance program that provides funding for the implementation of conservation practices to protect and enhance sage-grouse habitat, manage livestock, improve irrigation efficiency and reduce soil loss.

 For Stan Hardy and his father, Glen, owners of the Hardy Farm, the hands-on technical assistance provided through NRCS has not only benefited the environment with water savings and improved soil health, but it has yielded positive benefits for their alfalfa production and farm.

 In Moapa Valley and the surrounding areas, high demand for water continues to rise with increasing population, business pressures, drought and other climate concerns, so water efficiency is critical to ensure producers survive and have a sustainable water supply.

 NRCS has worked with three generations of the Hardy family to develop and implement conservation plans for leased land parcels throughout the Moapa Valley, as well as provide technical and financial assistance for installing the recommended conservation practices. The valley water is supplied by the irrigation district through an open concrete ditch system, which allows water to evaporate. NRCS has helped the Hardys improve the efficiency of their irrigation system with pipes and easy to operate controls, reducing evaporation, input costs and time managing water distribution in the fields. The Hardys also land leveled to improve water delivery to their alfalfa fields that has increased yields and decreased use of herbicides.

 “Before this improved system, we had to have dozers and workers on hand to keep the water where it was supposed to go when we got our allotment,” said Stan Hardy. “Now with this more efficient system, we are able to maximize water usage, while minimizing equipment and labor costs, increasing the bottom line to use acres that we have not been able to use before.”

 “NRCS is able to work with the landowners to address their short-term and long-term goals and concerns for their farm or ranch to increase efficiency while protecting their natural resources, like we did for the Hardys,” said Teri Knight, district conservationist in the Las Vegas NRCS office. “This allows them to better manage the use and distribution of their water allotment, which results in a win-win for everyone.”

 USDA Financial Assistance Programs such as these give producers the opportunity to construct or improve water management or irrigation structures, plant trees for windbreaks or to improve water quality. They also can mitigate risk through production diversification, or by implementing innovative management strategies including soil erosion control, integrated pest management or transitioning to organic farming and practices that improve soil health on croplands, pastures and rangeland.

 “Applications for EQIP are accepted year-round on a continuous basis with batching periods announced so that applications can be ranked and funded. We encourage producers to consider this early batching period to allow conservation plans to be completed in the fall for earlier implementation of the practices the following spring,” said Gary Roeder, assistant state conservationist for programs.

Applicants must meet USDA program eligibility requirements for land eligibility and person eligibility.  Eligibility requirements include Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limitations for individuals and entities, with entities also required to have a DUNS number and be registered in SAMS to participate. Applicants must meet the eligibility criteria to be considered for ranking and funding decisions. Farm Bill programs have strict payment limits, and the amount of financial assistance producers may receive varies by program and will depend on future allocations received under the Farm Bill authority. Limited resource producers, beginning farmers and ranchers, or socially disadvantaged agricultural producers may be eligible for up to 15 percent higher payments, not to exceed 90 percent of the estimated cost to install the practice.

To learn more, contact your local NRCS office or go online to:

Persons requiring special accommodations or materials in an alternative format or language should contact Heather Emmons, Public Affairs Officer, (775) 857-8500 x 105.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

By maximizing irrigation efficiency and water usage, the Hardys’ alfalfa hay fields have seen an increase in yields and quality that benefit the livestock they feed and their hay buyers’ livestock.