The USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to farmers to implement a wide variety of practices designed to protect resources. Ohio NRCS recently withdrew the Nov. 15, 2014, signup deadline from its website. Farmers are welcome to submit applications to EQIP on an ongoing basis.

Among the many EQIP program options are Nutrient Management Conservation Activity Plans (CAP 104), to evaluate current practices and improve nutrient application timing, placement, product selection and application methods. NRCS 590 Nutrient Management is available to implement nutrient management plans, while Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans are an option for livestock operations. The Conservation Stewardship Program supports ongoing implementation of resource management practices.

These programs can help keep fertilizer on farm fields and out of rivers, lakes and streams. According to Dr. Thomas Green, president of the IPM Institute, an independent nonprofit working to improve Lake Erie water quality, “When nutrients are lost from cropland, farmers lose money and water quality can suffer. We’re working to help growers gain access to NRCS programs to improve resource use efficiency and water quality in the Western Lake Erie Basin.”

The CAP104 process involves working with a qualified crop consultant to look at the entire farm and develop a plan to address any concerns, including erosion, compaction and nutrient losses that can negatively impact water quality and affect farmers economically. With a completed CAP104 in hand, producers will be eligible for additional NRCS financial and technical assistance to implement improvements.

Applications are available online or at your local NRCS office. Please contact your NRCS District Conservationist if you are interested in developing a CAP for your farm. Additional information about the EQIP programs can be found online at:

Michigan: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/mi/programs/financial/eqip/

Indiana: www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/in/programs/financial/eqip/

Ohio: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/oh/home/?cid=nrcs144p2_029505