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NRCS to Help Farmers Measure Conservation Impacts on Water Quality

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the availability of $2 million to help farmers install edge-of-field stations that monitor water quality as it leaves their fields, providing data to evaluate the success of various conservation efforts. The funding is available to farmers located across key watersheds in nine states, including Vermont, and is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to measure the effectiveness of a wide range of conservation initiatives. Applications are due by July 8, 2016.

 The financial assistance is available through the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Eligible farmers who receive funding can install and maintain the monitoring systems for up to nine years, giving time to measure the impact of conservation systems on water quality under different conditions. 

Farmers are already using edge-of-field monitoring data to adjust their strategies to improve the quality of water, soil and other natural resources within their operations. Vermont NRCS State Conservationist Vicky Drew said there are currently eight edge-of-field monitoring stations in the state. 

 In the longer term, data collected from many sources will help producers make the most informed conservation investments possible and document how edge-of-field monitoring of conservation work benefits the public and communities. You can read more about a current Vermont edge-of-field project here.

Testing the quality of water as it leaves a field helps farmers and NRCS understand which conservation practices work best at preventing sediment and nutrient runoff. Verifiable data gives farmers, NRCS and other partners information needed to make targeted conservation investments to improve water quality. “This technology is a great tool to aid in our efforts to protect and improve water quality in Lake Champlain,” said Drew.

The program was launched in 2013 and has led to the installation of stations on private lands in nine states including Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

 Contact your local VT NRCS field office to submit an application before the July 8th deadline.

 For more information, visit the Edge-of-Field Monitoring webpage and your local USDA Service Center.

 For the latest conservation updates, follow Vermont NRCS on Twitter @VermontNRCS.


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