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Conservation Corner

Conservation keeps me busy.

Wed, August 16, 2017

Conservation has kept me busy this year that I have not had much time to do blogging on this site.

I hope to pick that up in the near future.  The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has been busy this year in Tazewell County.  We submitted over a $1 million dollars in EQIP applications in late March. 

We have obligated over $667,000 in EQIP contracts and at the present time are working on 3 last minute applications selected for funding for another $247,000.  That amounts to 8 contracts encompassing $919,270 dollars in conservation funding for Tazewell County.

Already we are working on planning for EQIP applications for 2018 funding.  However 2017 will be hard to top for the dollar amount obligated.

Some of these contracts (3) involve animal waste storage facilities for swine operations, composters, closure of waste impoundments, access roads, agitators, and nutrient management.  Others funded include best management practices such as cover crops, grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures, water & sediment control basins, forest management plans, and monarch butterfly habitat.

Tazewell County also hosted livestock training for NRCS/SWCD employees in Area 2 in June.  June also saw me go away for a week of Soil Health training in Champaign, IL. 

I was able to get a day and a half of turkey hunting in before I had to come back to participate in the NRCS State Office Quality Assurance Review of the Pekin Field Office.  So I gave up the later 3 days of fourth season turkey hunting to be present for the review.  Which went real well.  In addition we had some good field visits that week to tour the Spring Lake WRP project.  In addition to visiting several livestock farms with our State Office Engineers and discuss the projects that NRCS has assisted local producers install on their farms.  It was a real good experience for me and the producers involved to have our NRCS State Engineers Ruth Book, Matt Robert, and Civil Engineer Technician Jeff Hyett see the operations and projects installed over the years.

I have been squirrel hunting once but not seen a squirrel moving yet before the neighbors dogs got out and started barking.  Then the chain saws started operating on the neighbors on the other side of the woodlot.  So it was a wasted morning.  There will be other times. 

I was unable to draw a blind at the Spring Lake duck blind drawing in July.  However I did go in with a neighbor on a goose pit over in Fulton County.

Cover crops are a topic right now as the farmers are getting ready to get those seeded.  Keep in mind that turnips, oats, winter peas, wheat can be seeded and wildlife will utilize these as a food source.  It was a couple of years ago that a farmer friend of mine seeded radishes, oats, and rape in 60 acres of cover crops.  When we went out to see them, the deer were on site feeding away on the cover crops, which were knee high having been planted by drill in early August following wheat harvest.  As we drove through the fields, the deer went into the timber.  As we returned from inspecting the back fields, the deer were already back in the first fields.

Those cover crops got so tall that they had to mow paths in order to get to their deer stands!  Nothing better for a farmer and his kids than the government paying them an incentive to plant cover crops and they attract the deer for hunting purposes.

Soil health is a big topic right now and I don’t see it going away.  This coming year in Tazewell we will be working on EQIP applications under the Regional Conservation Partnership Program RCPP for Precision Conservation Management.  PCM has EQIP funds in targeted watersheds in Illinois of which Tazewell is one.  Cover Crops, grassed waterways, grade stabilization structures, and water & sediment control basins are some practices that I see being submitted under RCPP PCM. 

Till later.