The Natural Resources Conservation Service serving central Washington has announced the 2008 sign-up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and will accept applications through November 16.
EQIP is a voluntary cost-incentive program that helps private landowners to identify, rehabilitate, and protect natural resources on farmland, forestland and wildlife habitat, according to information from Justin Mount at the Conservation Service office in Wenatchee, Washington.
For interested landowners, an NRCS conservationist will conduct site visits to discuss resource concerns and develop applications that will be competitive for the funds allocated to their area. Applications will be ranked and funded according to the amount and priority of the resource concerns they address. Top-ranked applicants will be offered a program contract until funds are exhausted. Contract duration is usually from one to three years, depending on the grower’s objective and conservation goals.
Practices that orchardists might consider include:
- Integrated pest management—includes monitoring, mating disruption, and use of reduced risk pesticides;
- Nutrient management—use of soil and leaf samples to determine fertilizer needs to protect ground water and address fertility needs;
- Irrigation water management—monitoring soil moisture with hardware to determine how often and how much to irrigate;
- Irrigation system improvements—conversion of rill irrigation or impact sprinkler (the latter in north central Washington only) to microsprinkler or drip irrigation, or replacement of a dilapidated waterbox or mainline.
- Wildlife plantings such as hedgerows, riparian buffers, beneficial pollinator habitat, insectaries, and field borders using native plants;
- Windbreaks to reduce potential for pesticide drift into streams and keep crop protection chemicals in the orchard.
Growers can submit applications through November 16, but are strongly encouraged to inquire as soon as practical. Additional details about payments and cost-share for the program can be found on the Washington NRCS Web site at www.wa.nrcs.usda.gov.
Telephone numbers of NCRS offices in north central Washington are: Chelan County (509) 664-0275; Okanogan County (509) 422-2750 ext.3; Nespelem Sub-Office (509) 634-2320; Douglas County (509) 745-8362, ext.3.