DAVIS, Calif. -- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in California is taking applications from farmers interested in a comprehensive approach to integrated pest management. Those who successfully compete for a contract can receive up to $125 per acre.

Applications are being accepted at all NRCS Service Center locations throughout California. Each application will be ranked according to its environmental benefits reflecting State and local conservation priorities. Applicants willing to combine IPM with other practices to protect multiple natural resources will be more likely to compete successfully. As with all EQIP opportunities, financial assistance does not apply to work done before a contract is awarded.

The incentive payments, made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), are based on University of California research-based checklists guiding agricultural producers in preventive actions, pest monitoring and making pest management decisions.

"We have offered incentive payments in the past for various IPM practices- such as pest monitoring and leaf tissue analysis," says Alan Forkey, NRCS Assistant State Conservationist for Programs. "This year, however, for the first time we are working with the University of California's Cooperative Extension Service to provide a more comprehensive year-round IPM package for those willing to go the distance to optimize crop protection while protecting soil, air and water quality."

NRCS will accept applications for crops for which university IPM guidelines currently exist or are finished by the ranking period. Guidelines exist for almonds, cotton, grapes, nectarines, peaches, plums, and prunes and are underway for alfalfa, avocado, pears, and tomatoes. The deadline to submit an application is Dec. 1. Funds will be allocated and contracts finalized by March 31, 2007.

SOURCE: Natural Resources Conservation Service via PR Newswire.