Application deadline nears on water-quality project


Farmers and landowners in Arkansas have until Nov. 8, 2013, to submit applications to receive financial assistance to monitor edge-of-field water quality on agricultural lands in targeted watersheds throughout the state. Applicants can sign up at their local U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service field service center.

Producers can use the data from water quality monitoring and evaluation to measure the effectiveness of conservation practices and systems such as nutrient management, cover crop, and irrigation water management. Evaluation of conservation practice effectiveness through edge of field monitoring will lead to a better understanding of nutrient and sediment loading and will assist NRCS and participants in adapting or validating the application of conservation measures.

“These edge-of-field monitoring projects will support the great work Arkansas producers, working along with our conservation partners, are doing putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality, maintain productivity and enhance wildlife habitat,” said Arkansas State Conservationist Mike Sullivan. “The data from the monitoring will show how voluntary conservation practices are having a direct effect on agricultural lands and give them feedback on the many positive impacts they are making to improve water quality and soil health.”

Funding for these projects comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for monitoring projects in 12-digit priority watersheds which have been targeted for funding.

“NRCS is working aggressively to improve the health of the Mississippi River Basin and other watersheds in the state,” said Sullivan. “This funding will help producers implement edge of field water quality monitoring in 16 Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) project areas.

The MRBI watershed projects that were approved for monitoring in this area are:

• Bayou Boeuf in portions of Ashley and Chicot counties and Morehouse and West Carroll parishes in Louisiana

• Bayou Meto (middle) in portions of Arkansas, Jefferson, Lonoke and Prairie counties

• Lower Arkansas (upper) in portions of Jefferson, Lonoke and Pulaski counties

•Grand Prairie in portions of Arkansas, Lonoke, Prairie and Monroe counties

• Bayou Meto (Arkansas County) in portions of Arkansas, Jefferson and Lonoke counties

• Middle Bayou Macon in portions of Chicot and Desha counties

• Lower Bayou Macon in portions of Chicot County in Arkansas and East Carroll and West Carroll parishes in Louisiana

Landowners will work closely with one or more of the monitoring partners including the USDA Agricultural Research Service, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Arkansas State University. These groups will assist NRCS with monitoring activities within their respective watershed once landowners are approved and equipment has been installed.

For additional information, such as practice cap and to check to see if you are located in a selected watershed, contact Lori Barker at (870) 523-8986, ext. 122; or log on to www.ar.nrcs.usda.gov. To locate a local field office, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/main/national/contact/local.