By Janet Lagler
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Your CRP is expiring
Land that is CRP is considered cropland, however, not all cropland is created equal in terms of erosion and yield potential. In fact, many of the acres enrolled in CRP may be best suited to other land uses such as cropland with buffers, pasture, hayland, or wildlife habitat.
It’s a good idea to take a look at your soils and consider these land use alternatives before making any decisions. Areas with steep slopes or more erosive soils may be best suited to stay in CRP or used for pasture and hayland with some renovation and investment.
Other areas, including wetlands, concentrated flow areas, field borders or areas where you may have established trees or shrubs could continue to these areas may be eligible enrollment in Continuous CRP.
Land coming out of CRP also presents a unique opportunity to initiate a continuous no-till or organic cropping system.
More than likely the decision you make will depend on a variety of factors:
• Personal goals and interest
• Soil and site limitations
• Rental rates
• Family situations
• Yield expectation
• Livestock access–cost share may be available
Your choices impact the local economy, landscape and environment.
• Enroll eligible acres into Continuous CRP
• Return to a cropland rotation
• Utilize and enhance forage as pasture or hayland
• Manage the expired CRP for wildlife
• Potential contract extension or re-enrollment in general CRP
For the best potential for the use of your land feel free to discuss these questions or issues with the staff at the Grant NRCS field office - 352-4776, ext. 3.
CTA is our program
The Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA) is NRCS’s oldest program, and it functions as the catalyst that allows all other NRCS programs to work.
CTA has been around since our agency’s origin, and provides the foundation for delivering technical assistance to our customers–landowners, conservation districts, tribes, states, local governments, and other individuals and groups.
The program focuses on natural resource issues at the local level that are local, state, multi-state and natural concern.
But CTA may be the least understood of all NRCS’s programs, perhaps because of the array of activities that are carried out under the program.
What is Conservation Technical Assistance?
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s principal agency for providing conservation technical assistance to private landowners, conservation districts, Tribes, and other organizations.
NRCS delivers conservation technical assistance through its voluntary Conservation Technical Assistance Program (CTA). CTA is available to any group or individual interested in conserving our natural resources and sustaining agricultural production in this country.
The CTA program functions through a nation network of locally-based, professional conservationists located in nearly every county of the United States.
Conservation technical assistance is the help NRCS and its partners provide to land users to address opportunities, concerns and problems related to the use of natural resources and to help land users make sound natural resource management decisions on private, tribal, and other non-federal lands.
This assistance can help land users:
• Maintain and improve private lands and their management
• Implement better land management technologies
• Protect and improve water quality and quantity
• Maintain and improve wildlife and fish habitat
• Enhance recreational opportunities on their land
• Maintain and improve the aesthetic character of private land
• Explore opportunities to diversify agricultural operations and
• Develop and apply sustainable agricultural systems
This assistance may be in the form of resource assessment, practice design, resource monitoring, or follow-up of installed practices.
Although the CTA program does not include financial or cost-share assistance, clients may develop conservation plans, which may serve as a springboard for those interested in participating in USDA financial assistance programs. CTA planning can also serve as a door to financial assistance and easement conservation programs provided by other federal, state, and local programs.
Who Needs Conservation Technical Assistance?
NRCS and its partners use the CTA program to provide technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, local units of government, citizen groups, recreational groups, tribal government, professional consultants, state and federal agencies, and other interested in conserving natural resources.
The working relationship that landowners and communities have with their local NRCS staff is unique. One-on-one help through flexible, voluntary programs occurs every day in local NRCS offices across the country. It is the way NRCS does business, and it works.
To obtain conservation technical assistance, contact the Grant NRCS office at 352-4776