By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
The Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has reported an enthusiastic response to the new Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). During the first sign up, Nebraska had more than 2,650 applications for over 2.7 million acres.
Nationally, 21,300 applications have been received to participate, covering an estimated 33 million acres.
In Chase County, according to NRCS’s Nadine Bishop, who oversees Chase, Dundy and Perkins Counties, 23 applications were recieved, with 88 in the three-county district.
She said she doesn’t have a way to query the number of acres in the three-county area involved in the program.
Bishop said the NRCS assesses each application and ranks them according to possibility for participation. NRCS employees are now meeting with the applying producers to discuss their eligibility for the program.
All producers who applied in the first sign up will be meeting with the NRCS before Oct. 30. The NRCS will contact applicants for appointments.
Nebraska NRCS State Conservationist Steve Chick said, “CSP helps Nebraska farmers and ranchers achieve a higher level of conservation management. Conserving natural resources on private land benefits all of Nebraska.”
CSP provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural and forestry producers to conserve and enhance soil, water, air and related natural resources on their land, and asks producers to voluntarily implement more conservation practices and improve, maintain and manage existing ones.
Bishop said some of these practices include: testing plant tissue samples to determine nitrogen fertilizer needs; creating wildlife-friendly adaptations to stock tanks to enable trapped animals to exit the stock tanks without drowning; using low drift nozzles to apply pesticides and herbicides, and establishing wildlife corridors by planting grassy areas in between existing corridors.
Lands accepted into CSP include cropland, pastureland, rangeland and non-industrial private forestland—a new land use for the program—and agricultural land under the jurisdiction of an Indian tribe.
Individual landowners/operators, legal entities, corporations and Indian tribes are eligible to apply for CSP assistance.
Bishop said sign up for CSP is continuous, but the next ranking deadline hasn’t been announced yet.
For additional information about CSP, including eligibility requirements, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/new_csp, or visit the Imperial USDA office.