To improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin, including water quality and wildlife habitat, the Natural Resources Conservation Service is developing the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI). Through this new Initiative, NRCS and its partners will help producers in selected watersheds in the Mississippi River Basin voluntarily implement conservation practices that avoid, control, and trap nutrient runoff; improve wildlife habitat; and maintain agricultural productivity.
These improvements will be accomplished through a conservation systems approach to manage and optimize nitrogen and phosphorous within fields to minimize runoff and reduce downstream nutrient loading. NRCS will provide producers assistance with a system of practices that will control soil erosion, improve soil quality, and provide wildlife habitat while managing runoff and drainage water for improved water quality.
The Initiative builds on the past efforts of producers, NRCS, partners, and other State and Federal agencies in the 13-State Initiative area to address nutrient loading in the Mississippi River Basin. Nutrient loading contributes to both local water quality problems and the hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. The participating states are Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
NRCS accepts and processes MRBI applications on a continuous basis. However, NRCS sets dates to prioritize applications as funding allows. The next application cutoff date for Fiscal Year 2021 applications is Dec. 18, 2020.