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Montana energy irrigation, tractor, and farm buildings

On-Farm Energy Initiative - Montana

Apply by: October 27, 2023

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) On-Farm Energy Initiative helps farmers and ranchers make voluntary improvements that can boost energy efficiency on the farm.

The On-Farm Energy Initiative is designed to assist producers with identifying ways to improve energy efficiency on their farm or ranch through an Agricultural Energy Assessment (CEMA 228) also known as an on-farm energy audit.

The On-Farm Energy Initiative can also assist producers with developing a design of conservation practices that improve energy efficiency through a Design and Implementation Activity 120 (DIA120) - Agricultural Energy Design.

Learn more about the On-Farm Energy Initiative.

On-Farm Energy Initiative in Montana

An On-Farm Energy Initiative project involves:

  1. Completing a CEMA 228 to provide an assessment of the energy consuming activities on an agricultural operation and recommend core and supporting energy conservation practices.
  2. Completing a DIA 120 to design the recommend energy conservation practices resulting from the CEMA 229.
  3. Completing one or more of the cores and supporting practices below.
  4. Completing Conservation practices 913 - Technical Assistance Checkout to implement and checkout the energy project.
  5. Certifying 913 - Technical Assistance Checkout for the core and supporting practices by the State Conservation Engineer.


Applicants can sign up for the CEMA 228 as a stand-alone practice in FY23; and then sign up the next year for DIA 120 to design the recommended practices and implement one or more of the core and supporting conservation practices identified below.

If an applicant has already completed an on-farm energy audit by a registered Technical Service Provider (TSP) in accordance with the new CEMA 228, they would be eligible to sign up for DIA 120 and core and supporting practices.

Eligible Conservation Practices

The following conservation practices are available through the On-Farm Energy Initiative. After completing a CEMA 228, the following are considered eligible core and supporting practices. Detailed descriptions of these conservation practices can be found in the Field Office Technical Guide, Section 4 - Practice Standards and Supporting Documents.

Core Practices

  • 374 Energy Efficient Agricultural Operation
  • 449 Irrigation Water Management
  • 533 Pumping Plant
  • 670 Energy Efficient Lighting System
  • 672 Energy Efficient Building Envelope

Supporting Practices

  • 430 Irrigation Pipeline
  • 587 Structure for Water Control

Supporting Practices - Reimbursement conservation activities completed by a registered TSP. Learn more about CPAs, DIAs and CEMAs.

  • CEMA 228 Ag Energy Management Plan
  • DIA 120 Agricultural Energy Design
  • 912 Technical Assistance Application
  • 913 Technical Assistance Checkout

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.

Energy Resources

Additional Montana Information

The On-Farm Energy Initiative is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

Related Information

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit

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 number.

If you don’t have a farm 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 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. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

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.