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News Release

NRCS Awards Funding for Shore Fertilizer-Clean Water Initiative

 

Contact: Wade Biddix, NRCS - 804-287-1675 / Chuck Epes, CBF - 804-780-1392

Richmond, November 14, 2012 – The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has awarded special funding for a Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) partnership project to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases on farms on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  

This funding will support a joint CBF-Virginia Tech Conservation Innovation Grant initiative to more efficiently apply fertilizer and improve water quality. The grant is among nine projects nationally eligible for the $10 million of additional funding.

 The funding will be available via the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to farmers in Accomack and Northampton counties who are interested in using innovative technology that helps them apply fertilizer only where it is needed most. Resulting reductions of fertilizer will not only decrease potential nitrogen runoff into streams and rivers but will cut air emissions of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas. Applications to participate are accepted on a continual basis, but NRCS encourages eligible farmers to apply on or before January 18, 2013, to be considered for funding in fiscal year 2013. 

 “This new technology promises to take conservation to the next level with benefits for farmers and the environment,” said John A. Bricker, State Conservationist for NRCS in Virginia. “Applying the right amount of nitrogen in the right place at the right time will help producers increase their yields and reduce fertilizer costs while offering them a potential new revenue stream. The soil health and water quality benefits of these earth-friendly production methods will extend beyond the Eastern Shore, with positive impacts for Virginians in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and beyond.”

 Beth McGee, CBF senior water quality scientist, said, “The purpose of the grant is to promote the use of variable rate fertilizer technology, then quantify the benefits of pollution reductions to water and air. Since we expect reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we hope the project will ultimately facilitate Chesapeake region farmers’ participation in and financial gain from the sale of carbon offsets.”

This project builds on a partnership between CBF, Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES), and Sterling Planet in which WGES and Sterling Planet contribute to a Carbon Reduction Fund that CBF manages. Funding is triggered by the sale of WGES's green product, WGES CleanSteps Carbon offsets. To date, WGES and Sterling Planet have contributed more than $400,000 to this Carbon Reduction Fund to implement projects, primarily with agricultural producers, which generate carbon offset credits while also reducing pollution to the Chesapeake Bay.

Accomack and Northampton farmers who want more information about the project may contact NRCS District Conservationist Tina Jerome at the Accomac Service Center by calling 757-787-0918, ext. 120, or emailing tina.jerome@va.usda.gov