Champaign, IL--State Conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Ivan Dozier announced availability of funding through the Agricultural Water Enhancement Program (AWEP), a federally-funded program that can provide financial and technical assistance to help farmers implement agricultural water enhancement activities to conserve ground and surface water and improve water quality. The 2008 Farm Bill established AWEP as a component of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). NRCS administers the program, which is available for eligible applicants in approved project areas.
In Illinois, NRCS selected the Mason County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to administer the AWEP project for irrigated crop growers in the central part of the state. The Illinois AWEP project area includes Mason County and adjacent counties of Tazewell, Cass, Menard, and Logan. Funding is available for producers in need of irrigation system upgrades.
The Illinois AWEP project includes assistance with improvements for center pivot irrigation systems: installing new nozzles and end gun system to improve the uniformity of irrigation water distribution over the crop field, and potentially replacing the motor to convert the system to a lower pressure, resulting in energy conservation. The project also encourages producers to follow an Irrigation Water Management Plan to help with irrigation scheduling based on crop needs.
In order to be eligible for AWEP, applicants must meet the following criteria:
1) Have a center-pivot irrigation system that is at least two years old,
2) Have had an irrigation system field evaluation completed within the last three years, and
3) The irrigation evaluation must show that the distribution uniformity (DU) is less than 75% and that nozzles are the cause of low performance.
While NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis, there will only be one application cutoff for AWEP in Illinois on Friday, May 17, 2013. Applications submitted by the application deadline will be ranked and will compete for funding against other ranked applications within the AWEP project area.
To apply for AWEP, eligible producers should contact their local NRCS field office in Mason, Tazewell, Cass, Menard, or Logan County. For more information about AWEP and NRCS’ programs, initiatives and services in Illinois, visit us online at www.il.nrcs.usda.gov.
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