The NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers farmers significant funding opportunities to implement a wide array of conservation practices on their farms. EQIP offers landowners and producers an opportunity to receive a one-time incentive payment to assist with implementation of various conservation practices. These practices can improve water quality, soil health and create and enhance wildlife habitat on private lands.
Kelsey Fleming, a senior farm bill wildlife biologist in Adair and Madison counties, says precision technology is a valuable tool that can aid producers anywhere in Iowa in identifying unprofitable areas of the farm, to investigate more profitable alternatives, and ultimately to understand the positive financial impacts that targeted conservation practices through EQIP can have in those areas. A few of the alternatives she uses include seeding down specific areas to perennial grasses and forbs, shaping waterways, restoring wetlands, planting field borders or filter strips, and much more. By utilizing these kinds of conservation practices, producers can reduce the inputs on those areas, and in return, increase the return on investment on the rest of the farm.
In addition to the direct financial benefits, these conservation alternatives can also help increase soil health, improve water quality and even create wildlife habitat. Applications for EQIP are accepted on a continuous basis. However, Iowa has a cutoff date for ranking applications, with the next one March 20. So whether you work to enroll now or later, and no matter your goal, to create habitat for pollinators, reduce erosion by incorporating no-till, increasing soil health by planting cover crops, controlling invasive species in woodlands, providing quality forage for livestock, or making agricultural operations more resilient and productive by targeting unprofitable acres, Pheasants Forever staff and your county USDA field office staff are available to work one-on-one with landowners and producers to develop a conservation plan to meet your goals and vision for your farm.