Nebraska is one of five states selected by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to take part in a pilot project that will provide financial assistance to farmers to address ephemeral gullies on highly erodible land.
State Conservationist Craig Derickson said there is an application deadline of July 19, 2019, for the $2 million available in Nebraska through the pilot project. He said priority will be given to applicants with tracts that were selected for conservation compliance reviews in the past two years and received variances to address ephemeral gully erosion.
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. A non-compliance ruling can affect benefits that farmers receive from USDA agencies, including Conservation Reserve Program payments and Price Loss Coverage. If erosion control issues are identified during compliance reviews, farmers may be given variances, which provide time for farmers to make adjustments and install needed conservation practices.
Ephemeral gullies are those areas in cropland fields where small gullies appear after heavy rains. Discing an ephemeral gully leaves nutrient-rich topsoil vulnerable to erosion. Fixing the gullies with conservation practices protects productivity and water quality and allows farmers with highly erodible land to continue receiving USDA benefits.
Derickson said the pilot project will provide cost-share funding to farmers to implement conservation practices such as cover crops, crop rotation, no-till, contour farming, buffer strips, terraces, waterways and others.
“Our advice to a farmer with an ephemeral gully is to ‘fix it, don’t disc it.’ Work with your local NRCS staff to develop conservation alternatives that will address your erosion issue,” Derickson said. “As a natural resources agency we are dedicated to working with farmers and ranchers to figure out ways for them to produce agricultural products in ways that are both economical to them while protecting the resources. This pilot provides us with additional funding to do that.”
Other states involved in the pilot project are Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, and Missouri. For more information or to apply for assistance contact the NRCS office serving your county. NRCS offices can be found in the phone book under “U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture,” or online at http://offices.sc.egov. usda.gov/locator/app.