Applications for CSP due by Jan. 17

DES MOINES — USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting applications at local field offices for the 2014 Conservation Stewardship Program signup. Iowa farmers who apply by Jan. 17 will receive first consideration for funding selections.

CSP is offered through a continuous signup, but NRCS periodically makes funding selections. Last year, Iowa NRCS obligated more than $3.8 million through 381 contracts covering 175,346 acres.

The program emphasizes conservation performance — producers earn higher payments for higher performance. Through CSP, producers install conservation enhancements to make positive changes in soil health, soil erosion, water quality, water quantity, air quality, plant resources, animal resources and energy.

CSP also supports the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy through various enhancement options. The Iowa strategy includes practices designed to reduce nutrient loads from nonpoint sources such as farm fields. Some popular nutrient reduction enhancements used by Iowa farmers include:

• Cover crops to scavenge residual nitrogen;

• Precision application technology to apply nutrients;

• Split nitrogen application (50 percent after crop emergence or pasture green-up);

• Plant tissue tests and analysis to improve nitrogen management.

A CSP self-screening checklist is available to help producers determine if the program is suitable for their operation. The checklist highlights basic information about CSP eligibility requirements, stewardship threshold requirements and payment types.

Learn more about CSP by visiting the Iowa NRCS website or your local NRCS field office.