IMPERIAL — Like all National Resources Conservation Service offices statewide, the office in Imperial offers farmers and ranchers conservation technical assistance, planning, and potential financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), according to a recent NRCS press release.
Additionally, the report said Imperial area farmers have a secure pot of approximately $4.3 million in EQIP-RCPP funds to invest in improving air, water quality, and habitat conditions associated with rehabilitating the Salton Sea. These funds come through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and are scheduled to end in 2020. However, a one-year extension request is currently in progress to extend funds through 2021.
Eric Peitz and his team at the Imperial conservation office said in the release that they were pleased with the interest from farmers so far this season. But the team wanted to encourage all growers in the region to learn about opportunities to get conservation plans and contract this year to improve local air and water quality.
“We have 83 applications so far, which is significantly ahead of recent years,” said Peitz in the news release. “There is plenty of work to do and it looks like there are plenty of farmers willing to tackle it — and that’s great.”
The current application ranking deadline ends on June 14, according to the release. Peitz said any unfunded applications will automatically be rolled over for consideration in future funding cycles.
“We realize there is a lot of interest in protecting air and water quality and we offer some great practices that helps farmers with those goals,” said Peitz.
Conservationists encourage growers to bundle efficient micro-irrigation systems and management with cultural practices like cover crops, rotation, and nutrient management, the release said. Using just enough water and fertilizer for the crop is key said Peitz. Adding cover crops helps reduce wind erosion and adds soil organic matter.
Also popular in Imperial County, according to the release, is the National Air Quality Initiative the agency offers. It helps farmers replace older, more polluting tractors and farm equipment with newer, cleaner engines.
A new farm bill was signed into law December 20, 2018. According to the release, that meant the farmers are beginning with a “clean slate” in terms of conservation funding, which cannot exceed $450,000 over the life of a farm bill. Visit the local NRCS office at 2407 Marshall Ave., Suite E, in Imperial. Call 760-355-2208 to make an appointment.