California Air Quality Programs
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Each fiscal year, NRCS focuses financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Air Quality Initiatives.
The National Air Quality Initiative is available to specific states and counties federally designated as “Nonattainment” of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards by the EPA. In California, the typical conservation treatment for the National Air Quality Initiative is the removal from service and permanent destruction of in-use diesel-powered internal combustion engines that power and self-propel off-road mobile agricultural vehicles or equipment and replacement with new diesel-powered engines meeting current model-year California emission standards (i.e. Tier-certification for off-road diesel engines) as determined by the applicable EPA Engine Family Name and State of California Air Resources Board (ARB) Executive Order. Significant emission reduction benefits of ozone precursors, particulate matter, and hazardous air pollutants are achieved when high-polluting off-road diesel engines are retired earlier than through normal turnover and replaced with cleaner new model-year off-road diesel engines.
The California Air Quality Initiative is available in California and includes four separate initiatives:
Stationary Pumping Plants: Permanently removing in-use agricultural engines utilized for pumping irrigation water and replacing with new electric motors or with new emissions-certified diesel irrigation engines that meet or exceed Federal state, or local emission standards and guidelines. The primary air quality resource concerns are primarily ozone precursors and particulate matter. Priority is placed on replacing stationary irrigation engines with new electric motors because this eliminates the air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions from the source.
Ozone Reduction: Ambient ozone reductions are achieved by reducing two primary pollutants from its source, oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). The priorities with addressing this air quality resource concern is reducing VOC emissions by implementing precision spray application technologies or integrated pest management strategies, and limiting reactive nitrogen and odors through manure injection methods on dairies.
Particulate Matter: Many agricultural operations are sources of “fugitive dust”, of which may contain direct particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) or 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in mean diameter. The priorities with addressing this air quality resource concern is reducing particulate matter emissions by treating unpaved roads and traffic areas, adopting on-field conservation tillage and residue management practices, establishing windbreaks and shelterbelts around animal feeding operations, and chipping orchard or vineyard removal debris in lieu of open burning.
Chipping Orchards and Vineyards: Chipping woody debris from removed orchards or vineyards that are no longer being irrigated due to the extreme drought conditions. These crops are located within the San Joaquin Valley in areas where surface water deliveries are severely curtailed or suspended and no other sources of water are available for continued irrigation. Chipping the woody debris in lieu of burning will avoid smoke emissions created from agricultural burning; reducing ozone precursors and particulate matter emissions, and reducing smoke impacts to downwind receptors. Removing the orchard or vineyard expeditiously will help reduce the threat of harboring pests and disease. Applying the chipped debris to the fallowed land surface from where the orchard or vineyard originated stabilizes the surface area to limit fugitive dust emissions from occurring due to wind erosion and helps improve soil health by increasing soil carbon, organic matter and water retention. The wood chips may also be hauled away to a nearby composting facility or to a biomass-fueled power plant where the chips are consumed as renewable fuel for producing electricity.
Comprehensive Air Quality Management Plan
A Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) is developed by a NRCS Technical Service Provider to assist producers with identifying the applicable conservation practices needed to address specific natural resource concerns. These plans are specific to certain kinds of land uses and include developing management plans that address energy or air quality concerns. With a CAP, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices.
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126-Comprehensive Air Quality Management Plan (CAQMP) (PDF; 97 KB)
This CAP assess practices and strategies adopted by agricultural operations to address environmental concerns directly related to air quality and atmospheric change.
Conservation Innovation Grants
The Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production.
For assistance, please contact your local Service Center.
EQIP Air Quality Fact Sheets
Ted Strauss, Director of Air Quality, Climate Change and Energy Conservation
Phone: 559-252-2191, ext 110
Johnnie Siliznoff, California Air Quality Specialist
Phone: 559-252-2191, ext 112