Improve Your Pasture and Natural Resources with the Southern Ohio Appalachian Environmental Quality Incentives Program
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Apr. 18, 2014 – Farmers in 10 Appalachian counties can apply now for the Southern Ohio Appalachian Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
Ohio NRCS State Conservationist Terry Cosby allocated $500,000 from the Ohio NRCS EQIP budget for pasture and farmstead improvements in Adams, Athens, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Pike, Scioto, and Vinton Counties. The conservation practices selected for this program do more than improve pasture quality and protect the region’s soil and water resources. The majority of farmers that participate in this program will purchase the materials and labor needed to install the practices locally, giving a boost to the economy in those counties.
The 7,600 farms in the10-county area average about 140 acres each, adding up to over one million acres of farmland. Water draining from this land carries sediment and nutrients from pastures to the Ohio River, eventually ending up in the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The conservation practices offered through the Southern Ohio Appalachian EQIP help prevent this from happening.
Grazing animals can cause erosion problems, especially when the ground is wet and when the animals are contained near the farmstead in colder weather. Conservation practices such as heavy use area protection and designated reinforced stream crossings prevent erosion and keep animals safer. Developing watering areas within the pasture helps with grazing management, as does constructing firm access roads between pastures. Portable fencing makes rotational grazing easier and allows pastures to regrow, improving the quality of pasture forages while also protecting the soil from exposure due to overgrazing. All of these conservation practices used together as part of a prescribed grazing system plan facilitates grazing management, with the added benefit of healthier animals and healthier land.
The NRCS conservationist working with the farmer will develop a conservation plan based on the farmer’s goals. Applicants selected to participate in the Southern Ohio Appalachian EQIP will receive payments from NRCS that cover a part of the cost of implementing the conservation practices they choose to include in their conservation plan.
Those interested in applying should make an appointment with NRCS conservationist serving their county to start the application process. A list of county office telephone numbers is available on-line at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/oh/contact/local/.
To receive consideration for funding this year, apply by June 20, 2014.
Learn more about NRCS programs and services to conserve Ohio’s natural resources at www.oh.nrcs.usda.gov.