Farm Progress

USDA requires more erosion control for field gullies

Additional conservation practices are being mandated to treat gully erosion on highly erodible land.

May 4, 2017

2 Min Read
CONTROL EROSION: Missouri farmers will need to address gully erosion if they want to continue in USDA programs. The Office of Inspector General wants more consistency in compliance review procedures nationwide. So, Missouri NRCS will be making adjustments this year that may affect farmers.Photo courtesy of Lynn Betts

Don't disk up those small field gullies just yet. Missouri famers who participate in USDA programs will be required to provide additional control of ephemeral gully erosion on their highly erodible fields, according to J.R. Flores, state conservationist.

Ephemeral gullies are the smaller ditches in fields that farmers often smooth with a disk before planting crops. Flores, who heads the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Missouri, says that previously, compliance was not an issue when fields contained only small areas of ephemeral gully erosion.

He says the change is in response to a recent Office of Inspector General report comparing compliance review procedures in several states. OIG recommended modifications to NRCS' compliance review procedures to provide more consistency across the nation. Thus, Missouri NRCS will be making adjustments during this year's compliance reviews that might impact farmers.

Who's affected?
Since the passage of the 1985 Farm Bill, farmers have been required to control erosion on fields that are classified as highly erodible. Each spring, NRCS conducts compliance reviews on a random selection of highly erodible fields to determine if erosion has been adequately controlled.

Flores says affected farmers will need to consider installing additional conservation practices to better control ephemeral gully erosion.

Kim Viers, acting state executive director of the USDA's Farm Service Agency, explains that a noncompliance ruling could affect benefits that farmers receive from USDA agencies in a number of ways.

Those programs that require farmers to be in compliance with Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation rules include Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), and FSA disaster programs.

Time to adjust
Flores says NRCS employees will work closely with farmers to help them meet erosion-control requirements. He adds that farmers will not be expected to complete these changes immediately. If erosion-control issues are identified during this spring's compliance reviews, producers will be given time to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices. Typical practices used to control ephemeral gullies include no-till farming, cover crops, grassed waterways and terraces.

Missouri NRCS offers financial assistance to help farmers install or implement conservation practices across the state. Landowners can sign up for voluntary farm-bill conservation programs on a continual basis.

Flores stresses the importance for farmers to meet these erosion-control requirements so they will remain eligible for farm-bill program benefits, including federal crop insurance premium subsidies. NRCS staff are available to help farmers identify where ephemeral erosion is or may occur, and then assist them with applying the conservation practices that best fit their farming operations.

For more information, contact NRCS at the USDA Service Center serving your county.

Source: NRCS


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