March 28, 2018
Farmers wanting to enhance their current soil and water conservation efforts are encouraged to renew their Conservation Stewardship Program contract.
Through CSP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners build their farming business while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their entire operation.
Participants with existing CSP contracts expiring on Dec. 31 can access the benefits of the recent program changes through an option to renew their contracts for another five years if they agree to adopt additional activities to achieve higher levels of conservation on their lands.
NRCS will mail contract renewal notification letters to all participants whose contracts expire in 2018, and those letters will have instructions on how to apply for CSP contract renewal. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by April 13.
Through CSP, agricultural producers and forest landowners earn payments for actively managing, maintaining and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, nutrient management, buffer strips, grazing management, and pollinator and beneficial insect habitat — all while maintaining active agriculture production on their land.
CSP also encourages adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques, such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and plantings for a high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.
Some of the benefits of CSP include:
• improved cattle gains per acre
• increased crop yields
• decreased inputs
• enhanced wildlife populations
• better resilience to weather extremes
NRCS recently made several updates to CSP to help producers better evaluate their conservation options and the benefits to their farming operations and natural resources. New methods and software for evaluating applications help producers see upfront 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.
Farmers and landowners interested in CSP are recommended to contact their local USDA service center or visit nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.
Johnson is public affairs specialist for NRCS in Iowa.
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