Several conservation priorities have been outlined for accelerated funding in California. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California announced ten key areas to focus on. If adopted on a more widescale, the priority practices highlighted by NRCS have the potential to significantly benefit overall conservation efforts. Those who receive contracts for the featured conservation practices can receive incentive payments of up to 90 percent of the nationally identified cost.
“The 2018 Farm Bill provides for us to work with partners to identify this set of conservation practices that are underutilized relative to California’s natural resource needs,” NRCS State Conservationist Carlos Suarez said in a news release. “This allows us more flexibility to tailor our conservation tool chest to offer ‘bigger carrots’ to landowners who incorporate the prioritized practices into their conservation plans,” says Suarez.
Conservation cover, cover crops and cover crop rotation top the list of conservation priorities. The list also includes prescribed grazing, mulching, nutrient management, and upland wildlife habitat management. Forest stand improvement, pest conservation management, along with residue and tillage management are also identified as priorities. Each of the prioritized practices has a particular set of standards necessary to achieve the intended benefits. The practices have been selected from the more than 140 practices used to address various conservation issues in the state.
The list of conservation priorities by NRCS will continue to be reviewed through the State Technical Advisory Committee process every year. Many of the listed practices can be optimized by assistance from supplementary tools like fencing and crop nutrients. Agricultural and conservation potential can be maximized by implementing more than one practice on an operation. Farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners interested in more information are encouraged to contact their local NRCS field offices. Applications are currently being accepted for several of the key conservation practices and others through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program.