Conservation Stewardship Program offers varied assistance to agricultural producers
Agricultural producers who want to enhance their current conservation efforts are encouraged to apply for the Conservation Stewardship Program offered by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to help private landowners build their business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation. NRCS plans to enroll up to 10 million acres in CSP in 2018, according to a recent USDA news release.
While applications for CSP are accepted year round, applications must be received by March 2 to be considered for the current funding period.
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, ecologically based pest management, buffer strips and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat – all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land. CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.
The announcement says benefits of CSP include improved cattle gains per acre; increased crop yields; decreased inputs; wildlife population improvements and better resilience to weather extremes.
NRCS recently made several updates to the program to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see up front why they are or are not meeting stewardship thresholds, and allow them to pick practices and enhancements that work for their conservation objectives. These tools also enable producers to see potential payment scenarios for conservation early in the process.
Popular CSP activities in Missouri include:
• Cover crop to reduce water quality degradation by utilizing excess soil nutrients;
• Conservation cover to provide food habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects;
• Reduced tillage to increase soil health and soil organic matter content;
• Leave standing grain crops unharvested to benefit wildlife food sources;
• Forage and biomass planting for water erosion to improve soil health;
• Reduce risk of pesticides in surface water by utilizing precision pesticide application techniques;
• Improving nutrient uptake efficiency and reducing risk of nutrient losses to surface water; and
• Tree/Shrub Establishment.
For more information, contact the NRCS / USDA service center in Ava at 417-683-4212 or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.