Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences
Improving irrigation efficiency and reducing dependence on ground water for irrigation are top priorities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Fortunately for Arkansas producers, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to implement irrigation practices through its cost-share programs.
Farmers should take advantage of these programs that help agriculture producers implement water management practices and install systems for water conservation, said Dr. Henry English, head of the Small Farm Program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
The Irrigation Systems, Surface and Subsurface (443) conservation practice includes EQIP payments for poly irrigation tubing that can be used with the Irrigation Water Management Plan (449) to improve the overall efficiency of the irrigation system, he said.
An irrigation water management plan helps farmers schedule irrigations and monitor the volume of irrigation water used throughout the growing season; however records must be kept to receive payments on the conservation practices.
Many producers already follow some water management and conservation practices, but they do not sign up for them or list them in their water management plans. This is a mistake as acceptance into EQIP and funding are on a point basis, said Dr. English. Producers are passing up points and money. Payments are made after practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan are implemented. Contracts can last up to five years.
Although EQIP sign up is continuous, farmers have until Nov. 20, 2015, to sign up for financial assistance to implement conservation practices through EQIP for the 2016 program year. Farmers can sign up at their local NRCS county office.
For more information, contact your local NRCS district conservationist or a UAPB Extension associate. Area associates include Arlanda Jacobs (870) 714-5531, Lee, Monroe, Phillips and Arkansas counties; Stephan Walker (870) 575-7237, Pulaski, Lonoke, Jefferson and Lincoln counties; Alex Cole (870) 630-2005, St. Francis, Crittenden, Cross, Woodruff, Jackson and Mississippi counties; and Travis Collins (870) 355-7007, Chicot, Desha and Drew counties.
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.