The Johnson County Soil and Water District will hold their next board meeting via phone conference on Monday, November 2nd, 2020 at 12:30 PM. To participate in the call, dial 1-888-844-9904 and enter in access code 7277681.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

NRCS Sets Dec. 18 Application Cutoff for New EQIP Applications

 
DES MOINES, IA, Nov. 16, 2020 — Iowa farmers interested in treating natural resource concerns on their land have until Dec. 18 to be considered for priority funding through USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for Fiscal Year 2021.
 
Farmers should contact their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office to apply. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NRCS offices are taking in-person visitors by appointment only, so please call ahead.
 
Through EQIP, the NRCS provides conservation planning and financial assistance to implement conservation practices such as no-till, cover crops, terraces, grassed waterways, nutrient management, manure management facilities, and pasture management.
 
EQIP, one of USDA’s most popular conservation programs, is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes application selections as funding allows. In Fiscal Year 2020, NRCS obligated about $30 million in EQIP financial assistance to Iowa farmers.
 
The Dec. 18 application signup cutoff includes EQIP initiatives, such as the National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI), Mississippi River Basin Health Watersheds Initiative (MRBI), Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program, Organic Initiative, High Tunnel Initiative, and On-Farm Energy Initiative.
 
For more information about conservation planning and programs to help treat natural resource issues on your land in Johnson County, Iowa, call us at (319) 337-2322 ext. 3.
 

For immediate release

From: Johnson Soil and Water Conservation District

Local ag producers in Johnson County encouraged to sign up for new S.T.A.R. program

S.T.A.R. enhances soil health and water quality while targeting emerging ag markets


Two critical conservation concepts – managing nutrient loss and protecting soil from erosion –greatly enhance the future of Johnson County agricultural production and help better position farmers for changing weather patterns and to expand into the emerging sustainability marketplace. Today, the Johnson Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) introduces a new program that assists local ag producers who want to target conservation best management practices for their operation with a new program being piloted across the Midwest.


The new program “Saving Tomorrow’s Agriculture Resources” or S.T.A.R.– gives ag producers a free tool that assigns points for each practice producers are using and can use on an individual field level to prove a level of conservation. Crop rotation, no-till, nutrient application, cover crops and other soil conservation activities are graded and points assigned and converted to a rating of 1-to-5 “Stars” for each individual field.


S.T.A.R. makes its debut in Iowa this fall, sponsored by the Conservation Districts of Iowa (CDI) which selected the Johnson SWCD to help inaugurate this significant push to promote soil health and water quality in Iowa.


Johnson SWCD Board Chairman Alex Schmidt encourages local ag producers to sign up now for the free tool and take advantage of the short- and long-term benefits participation reaps. “We’re excited to be one of the first 25 counties in Iowa CDI selected to be part of this pilot program, and I believe local farmers will find value in quantifying the good work they are already doing and seeing how additional practices can improve their score” Schmidt says.


“We have a culture of respect for the land here, with an understanding that farming is a business,” says Schmidt. “The S.T.A.R program works to improve the land through workable conservation practices, while increasing productivity and net profitability. It takes a commitment to accomplish those goals. With uncertain markets, weather and a water quality crisis S.T.A.R. may be the path forward and open newmarketing opportunities for our crops.”


According to CDI President Dennis Carney, landowners and ag producers who sign up for the free S.T.A.R. program can expect “unexpected” benefits. “When a landowner commits to applying sound soil health and water quality practices to their fields in a program that evaluates and documents their success – which S.T.A.R. does – they may see both conservation and economic benefits,” says Carney. “Certainly, we can establish decreased nutrient loss, keep more phosphorus in the field, and prevent water runoff. But also consider the potential for increased net farm income, and a chance to leverage market premiums from buyers who more and more demand proof that farm products be grown in sustainable environments.”


S.T.A.R Program Director Carlee Sabus adds that participation in S.T.A.R. may assist operators in securing local conservation cost share (when available), generate documentation to support potential water quality improvements, and help landowners evaluate a tenants’ level of commitment to conservation when renting their land.


To sign up, Producers fill out a simple field form that Sabus says takes about three minutes to answer questions for one field. Each field is assigned a “S.T.A.R.” rating from one-to-five stars and participants earn certificates to recognize their cooperation and level in the program from Johnson County SWCD and CDI. As the carbon and sustainability markets begin to grow, these certificates provide verified documentation that the commodity from this field was produced sustainably.


“We believe operators who sign up for S.T.A.R. will discover how easy it can be to prevent runoff and protect our water supplies,” says Sabus. “They’ll see the importance of taking the time to plan and execute a sustainable farming strategy that yeilds tremendous rewards.”


For learn more or sign up, please contact S.T.A.R. Program Manager Carlee Sabus at carlee@cdiowa.org

About Us

The Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service can assist you with projects related to soil, water, air, plants, or animals in Johnson County, Iowa.

We provide free technical assistance in protecting these resources and can also assist with applications for funding.

Services

We can help farmers and urban homeowners conserve soil and improve water quality through state and federal cost-share and incentive programs.

Real-time Flood Data by the Iowa Flood Information System

Real-time Water Quality Data by the Iowa Water Quality Information System

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