Consider Conservation Improvements this Spring

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As I am sitting down to write on this late April day, I cannot help but look outside. It’s cool, gloomy, and wet, and the 10-day forecast shows no changes. Normally, I would already be out in the fields, but not this year. All the equipment is ready to go once the weather breaks.

I’ve thought of ways to make the operation more efficient and speed things up. Ideas include anything from bigger equipment to make fewer passes to reduced tillage and implementing more no-till where it is feasible. Of course, with new and bigger equipment comes a high price tag, which means dipping into savings or taking out a high-interest loan. One alternative to these is the Ag BMP (Best Management Practices) Loan Program.

The Ag BMP Loan Program is a low-interest loan for farmers and landowners looking to better their operation by reducing nutrient runoff and soil erosion. Practices eligible for this program vary broadly, from no-till drills and field erosion control practices to ag waste facilities and manure management equipment. As long as the project involves water quality improvements, it may be eligible. Septic and well systems may also be eligible.

If you are interested in the Ag BMP Loan Program, the first step is to contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to verify that the project is eligible under the program. If it is eligible, you will need to fill out a short application form describing your farm location and current farming practices as well as how the project will improve water quality or reduce soil erosion.

You will also need to provide a copy of the project estimate to be approved for the loan amount you are seeking. Once the application is complete and approved, it is sent to a lender of your choice that works with the Ag BMP Loan Program. From that point on, the specifics of the loan term and payments are completed.

As we move into May and the temperatures finally rise, we will make our way back out to the fields. If you come across erosion problems as you begin planting, consider making the change to reduced tillage or no-till.

If you have any questions regarding the Ag BMP Loan Program in Rice County, please contact me at 507-332-5408 or by email at Jarett.spitzack@riceswcd.org. Ag BMP funds are limited so don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or potential projects you may have.

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