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National Air Quality Initiative

Overview

Under the Agricultural Act of 2018, the Secretary shall provide eligible producers with technical and financial opportunities to address serious air quality concerns from agricultural operations and help meet regulatory requirements.

In Fiscal Year 2020 (FY2020), the NAQI ranking pool is designed to help agricultural producers meet air quality compliance requirements and offer opportunities to support practices that reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOC), and particulate matter (PM) emissions from agricultural sources.  Reducing emissions helps achieve and maintain the health- and welfare-based National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) in California.

Financial assistance priority is targeted toward counties identified as having significant air quality resource concerns based on the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “nonattainment” designations for Ozone and Particulate Matter or predesignated as “Attainment (Maintenance Area)” for PM10 or PM2.5.  These areas experience air pollution levels that persistently exceed the NAAQS established by the Clean Air Act.  EPA posts the NAAQS nonattainment area designations on-line.

The conservation treatment for the National Air Quality Initiative is to reduce diesel exhaust emissions through the removal from service and permanent destruction of:

  • A fully functional in-use off-road mobile agricultural equipment rated at 25 or greater brake-horsepower (bhp) and powered and self-propelled by a nonroad compression-ignition engine (e.g. diesel-fueled engines); and,
  • Replace with a new “like” off-road mobile agricultural equipment rated at 25 or greater bhp (not exceeding 125 percent of the baseline horsepower rating) and powered and self-propelled by a new nonroad diesel engine that meets Tier 4-Final emissions-certification, as determined by the applicable EPA Engine Family Name and State of California Air Resources Board (ARB) Executive Order (or EPA Certificate of Conformity, when applicable).  Emissions certified under an EPA or ARB Flexibility Provision will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis for equivalency with 2019 or 2020 model-year standards.

Significant emission reduction benefits are achieved when higher-polluting off-road agricultural equipment are retired earlier than through normal turnover and replaced with new “like” equipment powered by emissions-certified nonroad diesel engines.  The applicable NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) is 372 – Combustion System Improvement.

Equipment horsepower is based on the manufacturer’s advertised horsepower rating of the equipment and model.  The emission benefits must report at least a 30 percent reduction in NOx emissions and no increase in PM emission.

Off-road mobile equipment powered and self-propelled by nonroad diesel engines and used exclusively in agriculture are eligible for the NAQI (e.g. “L” designation in the EPA Engine Family Name on Tier-certified engines).  Equipment may include industrial and construction equipment used exclusively in agriculture:

  • Wheeled Tractors
  • Tracked Tractors
  • Bulldozers
  • Harrowbeds
  • Class V Forklifts
  • Rough-Terrain Forklifts
  • Harvesters
  • Sprayers
  • Sweepers
  • Combines
  • Swathers
  • Forage Harvesters
  • Backhoe Loaders
  • Articulating Loaders
  • Skid-Steer Loaders
  • Skip Loaders

Examples of equipment used in agriculture and not eligible for NAQI:

  • On-Road Trucks
  • Bale squeeze
  • Cranes
  • Manure spreaders
  • All-terrain vehicles
  • Portable elevators
  • Irrigation engines
  • Farm implements
  • Pull-behind sprayers
  • Gensets
  • Equipment not in-use or none-functional
  • Equipment powered with spark-ignition engines
  • Equipment powered with Tier 3 or 4 diesel engines
  • Equipment rated at less than 25 bhp
  • Forklifts, other than Class V or Rough-Terrain
  • Forklifts designed for mounting on a carrier

Documentation Worksheets for Off-Road Mobile Equipment

  1. California In-Use Existing Equipment/Engine (Baseline) Worksheet and Instructions
  2. California New Equipment/Engine Worksheet (Proposed) and Instructions
  3. California Equipment/Engine Destruction Certification Worksheet
  4. California Emissions Calculation Worksheet
  5. San Joaquin Valley Annual Reporting Worksheet

The first two worksheets are for the client to document the proposed in-use and new nonroad engines and equipment information for submittal to the NRCS with an EQIP application.  The participant may use the third worksheet to document equipment and engine destruction and disposal in accordance with CPS 372-Specifications.  The fourth worksheet is used by the conservation planner and/or the participant for calculating the estimated emissions and emission reductions associated with the conservation practice.  The fifth worksheet is for San Joaquin Valley participants providing annual reports to the NRCS that documents their new equipment usage annually over the 10-year practice lifespan. 

California Air Resources Board State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the San Joaquin Valley

Beginning in 2009, a partnership developed with agricultural stakeholders and representatives from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD), California Air Resources Board (ARB), EPA, and NRCS to help identify the mechanisms where voluntary measures through incentive-based emission reductions could receive credit towards meeting California’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) goals and objectives for the San Joaquin Valley.  The overall benefits would account for improvements to air quality, public health and welfare, and progress toward attaining the NAAQS pursuant to the Clean Air Act though voluntary measures, thereby postponing or perhaps eliminating any action by ARB to adopt new mobile farm equipment prohibitory rules and regulations.

Applying voluntary incentive-based emission reductions through programs like EQIP towards SIP emission reduction goals had never been tried before.  As ARB and SJVAPCD also administer their own respective voluntary incentive programs, this direction led toward the SJVAPCD adopting Rule 9610 in June 2013.  Overall, Rule 9610 ensures the emission reductions achieved through voluntary incentive programs in the San Joaquin Valley become eligible for SIP credit in accordance with the Clean Air Act.

In October 2018, ARB adopted their “Valley State Strategy” by including new regulatory- and incentive-based control measures for reducing NOx and PM2.5 emissions under the “San Joaquin Valley Supplement to the 2016 Strategy for the State Implementation Plan”.  The Valley State Strategy commitments for improving off-road mobile agricultural equipment seeks 11 tons of NOx per day reductions for the San Joaquin Valley by 2024.  Voluntary measures through State and Federal incentive funding along with participating producer investments will continue as important elements for achieving this emission reduction goal.

Included with CPS 372-Operations and Maintenance, San Joaquin Valley producers participating in the National Air Quality Initiative are to provide NRCS with reports of their new equipment usage annually over the duration of the practice 10-year lifespan.  This information is used to qualify equipment operations and quantify the on-going emission reductions to ensure the air quality benefits continue.  The NRCS submits aggregated emissions summary reports to the SJVAPCD, ARB and EPA annually, void of any information deemed as confidential, by reporting the SIP-creditable emission reductions achieved in the San Joaquin Valley through EQIP funding.

EPA, ARB and SJVAPCD continue to search for science-based and cost-effective emission reductions from agriculture as new strategies for deploying the cleanest emissions technologies are developed.  NRCS and its partners will continue to support voluntary approaches for addressing the air quality resource concerns in the San Joaquin Valley and other air quality challenged regions in California.

More information on the San Joaquin Valley SIP and diesel engines powering off-road mobile agricultural equipment can be found by visiting the ARB and SJVAPCD websites:

Financial and Technical Assistance

Landuses

Only applications for agricultural operations that address resource concerns on at least one land use type listed below will be considered for financial assistance from this EQIP Ranking Pool. The descriptions below are the general NRCS land use definitions - applications should fit within, but do not need to exactly match, these descriptions.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Pasture: Land composed of introduced or domesticated native forage species that is used primarily for the production of livestock. Pastures receive periodic renovation and cultural treatments, such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and may be irrigated. Pastures are not in rotation with crops.
  • Range: Land used primarily for the production of grazing animals. Includes native plant communities and those seeded to native or introduced species, or naturalized by introduced species that are ecologically managed using range management principles.
  • Forest: Land on which the primary vegetation is tree cover (climax, natural or introduced plant community) and use is primarily for production of wood products or non-timber forest products.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.

 Resource Concerns

The objective in conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPA+H).

SWAPA+H
Resource Concern
Resource Concern Component
Air
Air Quality Emissions
Emissions of ozone precursors
Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors
Emissions of Greenhouse Gases - GHGs

 

Emissions of Ozone Precursors:  Ozone (O3) precursor gases are oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) pollutants.  Ambient ozone is formed in the atmosphere through a photochemical reaction of NOx and VOC pollutants in the presence of sunlight, where its reactivity can be influenced by ambient heat.  Exposure to ambient ozone can cause adverse impacts to public health, plants and animals.  Sources of NOx and VOC emissions are from naturally occurring “biogenic sources” and from “anthropogenic sources” that include livestock activities, pesticide application, solvent and gasoline storage and use, nitrification/denitrification processes, and combustion from boilers, engines and open burning.

Emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) and PM Precursors:  Particulate Matter is classified by its size where PM2.5 and PM10 have an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 and 10 micrometers, respectively.  PM2.5 is directly emitted to the atmosphere by combustion processes such as from diesel engine exhaust and open burning, and to a lesser degree by mechanical means such as dust from vehicle traffic on unpaved roads or tillage activities.  PM2.5 is also formed in the atmosphere by chemical reactions of PM precursor gases that primarily include oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and ammonia (NH3).  Sources of these PM2.5 precursor gases can be from combustion activities, fertilizer application, and animal operations. Much of PM10 is mechanically generated and directly emitted to the atmosphere by actions that disaggregate the soil such as tillage operations, unpaved roads and field travel, animal movement, harvesting activities, bulk material storage and handling, and wind erosion.  Visible PM emissions are typically geologic in origin and range in different sizes that may include PM2.5 and PM10.

Emissions of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs): Direct or indirect emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG), primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O), that accumulate in the atmosphere can have a potent impact on the climate. Activities from crop fertilization (natural and synthetic), tillage and agricultural soils management, manure management, livestock enteric fermentation, combustion activities, rice cultivation, and land-use conversion all contribute to excess agricultural GHG emissions into the atmosphere.  Fuel consumption as an energy source contributes to atmospheric COSoil tillage is also a CO2 contributor by increasing the rate of soil organic matter decomposition and releasing soil carbon into the atmosphere.  Methane is produced as part of the normal digestive processes in animals and through anaerobic decomposition of manure and managed waste.  A portion of nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops and grasslands emit N2O by volatilization through the nitrification/denitrification process.

Conservation Practices

All conservation practices planned for financial assistance must be included in the EQIP Plan of Operations and address a resource concern in the client’s conservation plan. Payments are based on the manufacturer’s advertised new vehicle or equipment brake- or gross-horsepower rating. NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this EQIP Initiative are listed in the below table.

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Practice Payment Scenario
Units
Lifespan
372
Combustion System Improvement
Mobile IC, 50-149 bhp
no
10 years
372
Combustion System Improvement
Mobile IC, >= 150 bhp
no
10 years

For more information about conservation practices, visit the NRCS conservation practice standards webpage.

The Combustion System Improvement Practice Standard and more information are available on-line at:

Interested Applicants

Interested owners and operators of land managed for agricultural production within a nonattainment [or attainment (maintenance area)] area for the following counties may be eligible for the National Air Quality Initiative:

Alameda, Butte, Calaveras, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Merced, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Tulare, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation.

Contact

Visit the USDA Service Center Locator webpage to find the NRCS representative for your county.