NRCS Encourages Producers to Sign up for Special Cover Crop Initiative
DOVER, Del., Dec. 22, 2010 - The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Delaware is encouraging producers to sign up for a special cover crop initiative offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Interested producers can apply until the sign-up deadline of January 21, 2011.
“Cover crops are proven to improve water quality by absorbing excess nutrients,” said Tim Garrahan, Farm Bill Program Manager. “We recognize the benefits and have always offered financial assistance for cover crops in EQIP, but this year brings about new options.”
Delaware producers can now sign up for one year contracts; previously contracts were required for three years. Environmental benefits increase when cover crops are planted as early as possible; therefore, producers who plant early will receive a higher level of cost-share assistance. Producers planting cover crops prior to October 1 will receive a cost-share rate of $40/acre; those planting after October 1, but before October 15 will receive the cost-share rate of $30/acre. Farmers will have to identify the farm and fields where the cover crop will be planted in the fall of 2011.
Cover crops may follow corn, full-season soybeans, sorghum, vegetables, or potatoes. To be eligible for payment, the producer must meet the following criteria:
1.) Purchase seeds for cover crops that meet Delaware Seed Law and Regulations. If homegrown seed is used, it must be tested prior to planting for purity, germination and noxious weeds by either Maryland or Delaware State Seed Laboratory.
2.) Not allow grazing on cover crop land.
3.) Stop the use of commercial fertilizers or animal manures on fields that will receive or are receiving cover crop payments- certain exclusions may apply.
4.) Participants must self-certify using NRCS standards.
For more information on EQIP or cover crops, contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3. Or visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov.
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