This past month, we’ve been examining the effects that agriculture and the environment can have on each other. While farming does immeasurable good for people around the world, certain modern practices can take a toll on soil, water supplies, animal habitat, carbon emissions, and more.
This is a multi-layered issue with no singular cause or solution. However, there are various actions we can all take to help curb these changes and ensure a brighter future for our children and our planet.
For farmers and landowners, one very promising solution is to establish native vegetation and wildlife habitat through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).
CRP is a program managed by the USDA that pays farmers and landowners to take marginal or underperforming land out of active production and establish native vegetation such as perennial grasses, forbs, native flowers, etc.
In addition to receiving rental payments on the land enrolled, much of the cost of CRP establishment is also covered under the program. Not only does CRP restore health to your farmlands, but it greatly benefits the environment as a whole.
Soil Health and Carbon Sequestration
One of the primary benefits of CRP is the restoration of soil health. Planting annual row crops year after year strains soil health, draining its nutrients while exposing it to erosion and water runoff. Native vegetation protects soil while allowing it to recover.
Healthier soil is able to store more carbon, which keeps excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, CO2 absorbs heat. When CO2 levels rise too high, the earth’s temperature can rise with it, resulting in changing water levels, season lengths, migration patterns, and more.
CRP promotes carbon sequestration, keeping CO2 in the ground by restoring soil health and decreasing tillage on farmland.
Improving Water Quality
When soil is damaged, rain and irrigation erode it, dragging excess soil deposits into local water supplies. This causes pollutants from herbicides and fertilizer to enter the water, resulting in contamination and ecological events such as hypoxia.
When soil health is restored, it’s able to better absorb water, reducing runoff and contamination. It also cuts down the need for costly fertilizers.
Restoring Wildlife and Pollinator Habitat
Modern farming practices and expansion have eliminated habitat for many local wildlife species including ducks, pheasants, deer, and more. CRP restores this vital habitats, allowing these species to recover and flourish. This has proven to be especially helpful for hunting communities.
Additionally, certain Conservation Practices within CRP establish pollinator habitat. Pollinators play a vital role in agriculture. Yet in recent decades, we’ve seen the populations of our most prominent pollinators decimated.
Establishing pollinator habitat promotes pollinator diversity, which can greatly benefit farmers.
Native warm season grasses used for CRP such as switchgrass have proven to be very useful as biofuel. Compared to traditional fuel oil, switchgrass burns cleaner and more efficiently. Facilities utilizing switchgrass in place of fuel oil have seen savings as high as $2000 per day.
Equally important, while crude oil could run out in less than 100 years, switchgrass is completely renewable.
Increasing Farm Health
While it’s great to see the far-reaching benefits of CRP for the environment as a whole, it’s natural for farmers and landowners to wonder if it does any good for them directly. The answer is yes, it does. Damaged soil, polluted water, and a lack of pollinators results in low crop yields and a growing reliance on fertilizer, irrigation systems, and more.
CRP can renew your soil’s health while providing payment on land that is underperforming. With CRP, everyone wins.
Despite the benefits, however, the enrollment process of CRP can be difficult to navigate. Between choosing a CP, buying CRP seed, renting or purchasing equipment, documenting expenses, and submitting reports for cost-share reimbursement, many contract holders can find themselves overwhelmed.
That’s why FDCE offers full-service CRP solutions, handling the establishment process from start to finish. Not only do we handle the purchasing and planting of CRP seed, but we take care of the documentation and paperwork submission, so you get maximum reimbursement as quickly as possible.
Contact us today to learn what FDCE can do for you. Together, we can help restore some balance to your farmland and the environment as a whole.