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NRCS Sets July 18 Application Deadline for Water Quality Monitoring Project

Edge of Field Watershed Map

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is again asking farmers of land in targeted watersheds in Missouri to partner with the agency to monitor the quality of water that runs off their fields.

NRCS State Conservationist J.R. Flores said NRCS will pay for about 75 percent of the cost of monitoring equipment. NRCS will also provide funding to install voluntary conservation practices if landowners agree to allow the effectiveness of those practices to be monitored.

“The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of water that leaves fields,” Flores said. “The first step is to get a good idea of what is in the runoff. Then, where there are problems, we can provide both technical and financial assistance to help farmers solve them.”

Flores said Missouri’s edge-of-field water quality monitoring project is part of NRCS’ goal of improving the quality of water, both locally and all the way to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River. The data will be used to help producers adapt management practices on farms, to document the public benefits of conservation practices, and for national water quality modeling efforts. This is the second year that NRCS has funded the project.

Missouri has 90 small (12-digit priority) watersheds that are eligible in 2014. Those 90 watersheds are contained within seven larger watersheds. They are: Cache River, Little River Ditches, and Lower St. Francis watersheds in southeastern Missouri; North Fork Salt, South Fork Salt and Lower Grand watersheds in the northern part of the state; and Opossum Creek-North Fork Spring River watershed in southwestern Missouri.

The deadline for applying for this edge-of-field monitoring project is July 18. Flores said landowners should contact their local NRCS offices before then to determine if their farms are within one of the included 12-digit priority watersheds and to submit applications. Applications will be evaluated nationally, and compete with water-quality projects in other states for funding under NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program.

In Missouri, monitoring professionals and contractors will work with participants to monitor field runoff after contracts are approved. Flores said that specific data collected via monitoring will only be shared as authorized by the participants.