Producers may be reluctant to set aside land because of the potential for financial loss from reduced yields if these areas are not farmed. In response to this reluctance, the proposed Critical Area Seeding Incentive Program provides a financial incentive for producers to seed high-risk erosion areas in permanent vegetation for 3 years. The target areas are concentrated flow paths through corn and soybean fields. Additionally these small areas must be where a grass waterway is not practical. Grass waterways are typically not practical due to small drainage areas or small field sizes.
To qualify for the proposed program, participants must meet the following criteria:
- The critical area must be in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District’s Jurisdictional Boundary
- The critical area must currently be farmed as a part of a crop rotation that includes soybeans and/or corn silage.
- The critical area seeding must have a minimum width of whichever is greater: 20 feet, or the width necessary to treat the critical area.
- The critical area must be kept undisturbed for at least 3 years after the date of planting.
- Participants must notify Licking Soil & Water within 5 days of completing critical area seeding.
- Establishment of vegetation must follow Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Critical Area Planting Standard (342) such as seeding rates, dates and approved methods.
- Plantings must be successfully established before cost-share funds are paid.
- Seeding must be completed by May 31st.
The project proposal will require landowners to maintain the installed critical area for at least 3 years from the time of planting. By requiring this baseline, it allows time to observe the benefits over several years, rather than quickly converting ground back into crops. The goal is that after seeing the benefits for several years, through varying yearly weather patterns and diverse conditions, farmers will be more likely to continue to maintain these areas long term. Experience has shown that once producers observe the conservation and economic benefits of these types of practices first hand, they are more likely to continue to apply them across their operations.
The cost share rate is 100% with $500 per acre not to exceed 1 acre per participant. Cost share will not exceed actual receipts for the seeding. Licking County has been approved to fund up to 4 acres of critical area seeding cost share.