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Irrigation Improvement in Big Horn and Yellowstone Counties TIP


This Targeted Implementation Plan (TIP) is available in Big Horn and Yellowstone Counties, Montana. TIPs are local-level Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) initiatives used by NRCS in Montana to guide on-the-ground implementation of locally developed Long Range County Plans.

Project Description

County or Counties: Big Horn, Yellowstone (irrigated valleys)
Primary Resource Concern: Plant productivity and health
Time Frame: Fiscal Year 2019 to Fiscal Year 2024

Over the years, there has been a persistent interest in improving the efficiency of field delivery irrigation systems in Big Horn and Yellowstone Counties. Converting flood-irrigated fields to subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) or center pivot irrigation will greatly improve the efficiency of irrigation water application on cropland. While SDI is head and shoulders above other irrigation methods in terms of water savings, it is also an excellent fit for small or odd-shaped fields that would not be a good fit for center pivot irrigation. Center pivot irrigation is often a better fit for larger-scale fields and has a lesser per acre cost than SDI. Improved water use efficiency and irrigation water management will also help to improve soil health, decreasing erosion and improving water quality.

Conservation Practices Offered

  • 441 Irrigation System, Micro-irrigation
  • 442 Sprinkler System, Center Pivot System
  • 533 Pumping Plant
  • 430 Irrigation Pipeline
  • 587 Structure for Water Control
  • 449 Irrigation Water Management (IWM)

Detailed descriptions of these conservation practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4 - Practice Standards and Supporting Documents.

Project Partners

  • Big Horn Conservation District
  • Montana State University Extension Big Horn County
  • Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology

When to Apply

Program applications are accepted on a continual basis. However, NRCS establishes application ranking dates for evaluation, ranking and approval of eligible applications. Applications received after the ranking date will be automatically deferred to the next funding period. See Montana Programs and Application Dates.

Local Ranking Questions

NRCS uses these questions to evaluate eligible applications for this project and to prioritize applications for potential funding.

  1. Using the standard Farm Irrigation Rating Index (FIRI) ranking criteria, will the estimated percent water savings be:
    • less than 15 percent
    • 15 to 25 percent
    • 25 to 35 percent
    • greater then 35 percent
  2. Irrigation Water Management will be applied at greater than the Intermediate Level of IWM.
  3. Will the project convert flood to (442) Sprinkler System?
  4. Will the project convert flood to (441) Irrigation System, Micro-irrigation?
  5. If funded, would this be the applicant's first EQIP contract?
  6. Will the contract be completed in 3 years or less?

Additional Montana Information

Targeted Implementation Plans (TIPs) are local-level Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) initiatives used by NRCS in Montana to guide on-the-ground implementation of locally developed Long Range County Plans. These plans are part of the "Focused Conservation” strategy to guide Montana's EQIP investments. Learn more about Montana Focused Conservation and Targeted Implementation Plans.

Additional Information

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

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How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.