Today, many growers are reaping the benefits of cover crops; enhanced soil health, reduced weed pressure, and reduced erosion to name a few. One factor that may be keeping you from planting cover crops is the additional cost. Thankfully, there are many government programs available to help offset this cost. Here’s an overview of a few popular programs.
EQIP: Environmental Quality Incentives Program
This program is for anyone new to cover crops. To qualify, the field must not have been previously planted with cover crops, or you must be making improvements to previous cover crop practices. An example of this would be adding another species when you’ve previously only planted rye. Although the first deadline for EQIP has passed, the second deadline is June 5th, given that there are remaining funds. Applications can be accepted at any time and would be included in the next application period. Since funding is not guaranteed and approval is not a quick process, it’s advised to apply for EQIP a year in advance of implementing cover crops. There is no limit on the number of acres, but an approved grower cannot exceed $450,000 for the life of the current farm bill, which is valid through 2023. Funding can be received for up to 3 years after application approval. When the approved funding timeline is up, growers can apply for EQIP again, however, you must show an improvement to the prior cover crop practice.
The 2020 EQIP annual payment for various cover crops are:
» Basic cover crop (single species of a small grain or legume): $29.82 per acre
» Multiple species (at least two species including a small grain and legume): $35.65 per acre
» Winterkill (single species planted after fall harvest and winterkills): $17.60 per acre
CSP: Conservation Stewardship Program
CSP is great for growers already implementing conservation practices. After enrolling in CSP, a local NRCS conservation planner will evaluate your land and find any resource concerns. They will work with you to create a plan of conservation activities that fit your operation, with cover crops being a common activity. The CSP is a five-year contract with the opportunity for renewal if the contract is fulfilled. In addition to the practice payment below, there is an opportunity for additional enhancement payments, depending on the level of conservation your farm has achieved.
The annual practice payments for CSP in 2020 are:
» Basic cover crop: $5.96 per acre
» Multiple species: $7.13 per acre
» Winterkill: $3.52 per acre
State Cost Share from IDALS (Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship):
IDALS’ has cost share funds available to promote water quality. First time cover crop planters are eligible for $25 per acre, while growers already using cover crops can receive $15 per acre. This cost share funding is limited to 160 acres. These funds will be available in July, and local Soil and Water Conservation District offices are accepting applications now. These funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis with new-to-the-program applicants taking priority. Growers who have previously received cost share funds are put on a wait list.
EQIP, CSP, and IDALS cost share are all great programs, however, only one program can be used at a time for each field. Your local USDA office can give you more information on these programs and guide you in the cover crop cost share process. After locking in your cover crop programs, we can help you identify the best seed options. For those wanting to reap the benefits of cover crops but already know they are short on time in the fall, we offer custom seeding. To learn the specifics on seed or our custom seeding options, give Lucas a call at 319.325.0697.