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March 26, 2010   Email to Friend 

Darryal Ray
(334) 613-4187
March 26, 2010

Precision Farming Incentive encourages adoption of variable-rate application of nutrients and pesticides.
AUBURN, Ala. -- April 2 is a day many farmers may want to mark on their calendar as that is the application deadline for 2010 funding for three financial assistance programs administered by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

A precision farming incentive and two programs for limited resource farmers and forest landowners are made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

EQIP is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers who face threats to soil, water, air, and related natural resources on their land. Applying for EQIP funding is continuous; however, selecting applications for funding is completed periodically through batching periods with specific cutoff dates.

According to the State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett, the Precision Farming Incentive is designed to encourage the adoption of variable-rate application of nutrients and pesticides and promote the use of GPS-enabled precision agricultural technology and equipment.

The goals of the Precision Farming Incentive include improving water quality by targeting areas for reduced nutrient and pesticide application, reducing runoff and leaching of pesticides, enhancing soil quality through reduced erosion and soil compaction and energy conservation through accurate and efficient application of crop inputs. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) is partnering on this initiative.

Under the Precision Farming Incentive, cropland producing annually planted crops in the following counties are eligible for 2010: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Cherokee, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickens and Russell.

April 2 is also the cutoff date for a partnership initiative with the Limited Resource Landowner Education and Assistance Network (LRLEAN). This is a statewide signup targeting Underserved Forest Landowners under EQIP.

The initiative will work to assist private underserved landowners apply needed forestry conservation practices that benefit soil, water, and wildlife resources. LRLEAN and NRCS will also have the assistance of several collaborating partners: The Alabama Treasure Forest Association (ATFA), Alabama A&M University (AAMU), Tuskegee University (TU), National Wildlife Federation (NWF), Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC) and the Community-Based Land Development Consortium (CBLD).

Conservation practices include: Prescribed burning, firebreaks, fuel breaks, thinning and other forest improvement practices, hardwood tree planting, loblolly tree planting, longleaf tree planting and site preparation practices for tree planting.

The 2008 Farm Bill authorized special emphasis funding for beginning, socially disadvantaged and limited-resource farmers and ranchers.

Underserved forest landowners in 13 Alabama counties may qualify for the third EQIP program, a partnership initiative with the Alabama Forestry Commission.

The eligible counties are Bullock, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Sumter and Wilcox.

Producers interested in any of these programs should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local NRCS or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process. NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line at offices.sc.egov.usda.gov.

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