Tuesday, April 27, 2010
We applied for federal funding through the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service). They pay farmers a financial incentive to adopt certain agricultural practices such as farming organically, conserving water through more efficient irrigation, managing pests without conventional chemicals, etc. The areas we applied for include: Organic cover crops, organic nutrient management, organic pest management, and crop residue incorporation. Organic cover crops are things like clover that you plant in the fall and allow to grow during the winter. They fix the nitrogen in the soil, meaning we use less fertilizer. We plan to grow crimson clover. Organic nutrient management is a plan that involves use of organic fertilizers. We are using organic compost tea instead of conventional fertilizer on a few hundred acres. Organic pest management is similar to the nutrient management that just means we will use organic pesticide where needed instead of conventional. And finally crops residue incorporation means we will plow less and incorporate the wheat and grass stubble into the soil instead of taking off straw. It helps the soil recover faster. The NRCS is paying us a significant amount of money to adopt these practices on about 10 percent of our acreage. We qualified for close to the maximum amount, which is why the payout is only for a small amount of acres. It's great that the government is doing things like this to help growers like us transition to organic. The funding program is called the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.