This year’s general sign-up for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is quickly coming to an end tomorrow, June 14. If you are interested in checking out this program, call your local FSA office today!
CRP protects the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States.
Producers who are accepted in the sign-up can receive cost-share assistance to plant long-term, resource-conserving covers and receive an annual rental payment for the 10- to 15-year length of the contract.
Contracts on more than 50,000 acres of Ohio CRP are expiring Sept. 30, 2013. Producers with expiring contracts or producers with environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
If you have land enrolled in CRP, this is a reminder about how to maintain those fields. In the past, annual mowing of CRP grass cover was done by many participants, if for no other purpose than aesthetics.
Today with more research and understanding, it has been shown that undisturbed grass cover will reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, and is more beneficial to wildlife than annually mowed grass covers.
Undisturbed CRP covers could appear unattractive to those that do not understand its value. Wildlife, especially grassland birds including pheasants and quail, and pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, view undisturbed CRP cover as a source of food and habitat suitable to raise their young.
Wildlife will not be attracted to CRP cover if plants are not allowed to mature. Game birds and bees are disappearing because of habitat loss.
Undisturbed grass cover does not include noxious weeds such as thistle, teasel, woody species, and multiflora rose. These noxious weeds must be controlled by spot mowing the affected areas or spot spraying of an approved herbicide. These treatments will have a minimal effect on the CRP practice cover’s ability to meet the purposes of erosion control, water quality, and wildlife habitat.
Spot mowing is less expensive than mowing the whole practice.
Aesthetic beauty should not replace good land stewardship and economics. Unnecessary disturbance of your CRP cover is considered a violation of the terms and conditions of the CRP contract and conservation plan. Violations could potentially result in hefty penalties including contract termination and refund of all contract related payments. Properly maintained CRP cover can be very attractive if noxious weeds and invasive species are controlled and grasses and wildflowers are allowed to mature.
Please scout your CRP fields before weeds go to seed. Contact your local FSA office for permission to spot treat your CRP grass cover during Ohio’s primary nesting season (March 1 – July 15).
Plan to have your CRP cover assessed for the need of mid-contract management activities that are designed to enhance your CRP cover for wildlife. Mid-contract management is a contractual obligation that is outlined in your CRP-1 Appendix and conservation plan.
Contact your local FSA office for information on maintenance and management of your CRP practice cover.
Remember, beauty is in the eye of the conservationist!
That’s all for now,