CRP: An alternative to flooded and/or eroded cropland

Posted June 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm

Flooding occurred along the Willow Creek, Big Sioux, Floyd and other Plymouth County Rivers in 2010 and now again in 2013. With the deluge of rain that hit last week and with the potential for an additional rainfall this week sensitive acres are under water or have received heavy erosion or siltation.

The Conservation Reserve Program can provide an alternative to the expense of replanting, loss of crop and decreased yields. Dr. Michael Swanson, Agriculture Economist states that 20 percent of cropland loses money, 20 percent breaks even and 60 percent turns a profit. To optimize your net income, farm your best land and place the riskier/smaller hard to farm acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Fortunately, there is a silver lining! USDA is again accepting applications for all CRP. The General CRP signup 45 is currently underway and will conclude on June 14.

CRP rental payments have been updated and have risen significantly to be more attractive to potential participants. Continuous CRP rental rates of $250 – $352/acre are now possible with certain CRP practices.

Continuous CRP practices such as filter strips, grassed waterways and wetland restoration have an additional annual rental rate incentive of 20 percent for some of the bottom land, wetter and concentrated flow area soils. Those soils would calculate to a $405/acre rental rate.

Also, some CRP practices are also eligible for a onetime $100/acre – $150/acre signup incentive payment. There is also a 50 percent cost share for eligible costs associated with initially establishing their new CRP with an additional 40 percent Practice Incentive Payment when the practice is installed.

This return of wetter weather has been bittersweet to local farmers who are both worried about restoring subsoil moisture and now trying to get all of their crops planted. Depression areas and river bottoms that have been dry the last couple of years due to the drought are once again temporarily ponded with water.

Fortunately with the return of CRP, landowners and producers in this situation have another option through filter strips, wetland restoration, and gaining ground for wildlife CRP practices to deal with those risky and sensitive acres to farm. Additionally, the heavy rains also caused many gullies which can potentially be repaired and seeded down with the Grass Waterway CRP practice. Cost share is available for tile & seedings.

Qualifying lands will be enrolled in CRP for a contract length of 10 years and landowners will receive an annual rental payment established for the three predominant soils on the property. Many of the seedings that can be cost-shared through this program directly benefit the ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite quail, and many other species that rely on the food and cover that grasses and wildflowers provide.

To check if your land is eligible or learn about which CRP practices would meet your needs, contact Randy Phelan, Farm Bill Biologist with Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever at (712) 229-8274 or e-mail Randy at rphelan@pheasantsforever.org or contact your USDA Service Center at 1100 12th St Le Mars or call (712) 546-8858.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have more than 130,000 members and 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent – the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

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