Conservation Practice Enables Farmers to Measure Benefits of Investments in Lake Champlain Basin
Farmers in Lake Champlain basin encouraged to apply by July 24th for technical assistance to install edge-of-field monitoring stations
COLCHESTER, VERMONT-June 5, 2015 –USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available $2 million to interested farmers to help install voluntary edge-of-field monitoring stations on agricultural lands in eight states, including Vermont. The application deadline is July 24, 2015.
“Edge-of-field water quality monitoring helps us evaluate the benefits of conservation at the field level,” said Vicky Drew, NRCS state conservationist for Vermont. “This voluntary effort will increase economic efficiency for the producer and maximize yields while also conserving natural resources.”
Through edge-of-field monitoring, NRCS works with farmers and conservation partners, such as universities and non-governmental organizations, to monitor the amount of nutrients and sediment in water runoff from a field, and compare the improvements under different conservation systems. Conservation practices typically evaluated include planting cover crops and using no till, irrigation water management, and practices to reduce and trap nutrients and sediment.
Monitoring stations enable NRCS to measure at the edge of farm fields rather than try to estimate conservation effects from in-stream measurements that are subject to influences outside of the farmer’s control. Edge-of-field monitoring, combined with instream monitoring, can provide a more thorough picture of improvements within a watershed.
The funding is available to interested farmers in 327 watersheds across Arkansas, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin, including the Lake Champlain Basin watershed in Vermont.
The financial assistance, available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), helps farmers install and maintain the monitoring systems for up to nine years.
NRCS first introduced edge-of-field monitoring as an opportunity through Farm Bill conservation programs in 2013 and has already funded the installation of 25 monitoring projects, including eight projects in Vermont.
The results of data collected will be maintained confidentially for farmers’ use and for use by the conservation partners responsible for monitoring.
Interested farmers should contact their local USDA service center for more information. For more information about edge of field monitoring, read this success story about one Vermont farmer who is using the technology: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/vt/home/?cid=NRCSEPRD366411