NRCS Funds Expanded Use of Cover Crops

From No-Till Magazine’s managing editor this week, an article about expanded use of federal taxpayer funds for establishing agricultural conservation measures. Click here for the whole article. Below, a portion of that article.

It’s becoming ever more clear that the NRCS believes no-tilling, cover crops and more precise grazing methods will be crucial to shoring up the declining Ogallala aquifer.

And it’s also clear farmers in the southern Plains will continue to feel pressure to reduce or eliminate their dependence on irrigation, or adopt more efficient technology.

The NRCS announced this month that it will invest $8 million in the ongoing Ogallala Aquifer Initiative (OEI) in 2016 to help farmers and ranchers conserve water in the Ogallala’s footprint. This is up from $6.5 million that was spent for 2015.

The NRCS is also adding two new management areas for the OEI:

  • Middle Republican Natural Resource District: The project in southwestern Nebraska addresses groundwater quantity and quality concerns, and will enable participants to voluntarily implement practices to conserve irrigation water and improve groundwater quality.
  • Oklahoma Ogallala Aquifer Initiative: Among other things, this project will help landowners implement conservation practices — including crop residue and tillage management — that decrease water use. One goal is helping farmers convert from irrigated to dryland farming.

The NRCS already has focus areas in Nebraska, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Colorado, which you can read more about by clicking here.

The NRCS says it’s continuing to address problems with the aquifer by working with farmers to build soil health through seeding cover crops and implementing no-till practices, which will improve water-holding capacity and buffer roots from higher temperatures.

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