DES MOINES — Iowa farmers seeking conservation planning and financial assistance should contact their local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service office soon about help with implementing conservation practices on their land.

Iowa NRCS has program signup cutoff dates coming soon for the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS accepts conservation program applications on a continuous basis, but periodically makes application selections as funding allows. NRCS will rank CSP applications March 2 and EQIP applications beginning March 16.

NRCS has at least one office in every Iowa county, located at the USDA Service Center.

In 2017, NRCS obligated more than $30 million to Iowa farmers through CSP and EQIP. NRCS helps private landowners build their business through CSP, while implementing conservation practices that help ensure the sustainability of their operation.

CSP also encourages the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and new management techniques such as precision agriculture applications, on-site carbon storage and planting for high carbon sequestration rate, and new soil amendments to improve water quality.

Through EQIP, farmers can adopt structural and management practices that optimize environmental benefits. Along with traditional conservation practices such as terraces, grassed waterways and buffer strips, farmers can use EQIP to help implement practices that improve manure, nutrient, and pasture management. EQIP can also assist with organic transition, adding pollinator habitat, building a high tunnel system, or to construct a denitrifying bioreactor.

NRCS sets aside 10 percent of EQIP funding for the historically underserved, which include beginning farmers socially disadvantaged farmers, limited resource producers, Tribal farmers and veterans.

Interested producers should contact their local USDA service center or visit www.nrcs.usda.gov/GetStarted.