The U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting a four-week general sign-up for the conservation reserve program that ends Friday. CRP protects the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the U.S.
About 319,000 acres currently are enrolled in CRP in Ohio. Producers that 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 length of the contract, which may be 10 to 15 years.
Contracts on approximately 55,000 acres of CRP in Ohio are set to expire Sept. 30. Producers with expiring contracts or environmentally sensitive land are encouraged to evaluate their options under CRP.
More information about the CRP general sign-up may be found online or by calling the Wyandot County FSA office at 419-294-2127.
CRP participations: Think twice before mowing
In the past, mowing of CRP grass cover was a widely accepted practice 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 and improve water quality and is more beneficial to wildlife than annually mowed grass covers.
Undisturbed CRP covers could appear unattractive to those who do not understand their 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 and teasel, or woody species like trees and multiflora rose. These noxious weeds must be controlled by spot mowing affected areas or spot spraying of an approved herbicide. 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 CRP cover is considered a violation of the terms and conditions of the CRP contract and conservation plan. Violations potentially could result in penalties, including contract termination and refund of all contract related payments.
Properly maintained CRP cover can be attractive if noxious weeds and invasive species are controlled and grasses and wildflowers are allowed to mature. Before weeds go to seed, scout CRP fields.
Contact the Wyandot County FSA office for permission to spot treat CRP grass cover during Ohio’s primary nesting season, which runs March 1 through July 15. Producers should plan to have their CRP cover assessed for the need of mid-contract management activities that are designed to enhance CRP cover for wildlife. Mid-contract management is a contractual obligation that is outlined in each CRP-1 appendix and conservation plan.
For more information on proper maintenance and management of CRP practice cover, contact the Wyandot County FSA office.
By CHARLOTTE SCHMACHTENBERGER