A new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pilot project will add the expertise of private sector technical service providers (TSP) to help Iowa farmers prevent two major causes of soil erosion, improve soil productivity, and measure the return-on-investment for conservation work addressing those resources.
Producers of annually planted commodities in Iowa, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota will have the opportunity to hire TSPs who will work with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to develop Soil Resources Planning Conservation Activity Plans. These plans, known as CAP 132, will:
• Prevent sheet and rill erosion;
• Restore organic matter in soils; and
• Provide economic information producers can use to make conservation decisions.
“Bringing on TSPs who can leverage precision agriculture technologies and supplement our soil conservation efforts will help more producers use economic information to make sound decisions to protect and regenerate their soils,” said Jon Hubbert, Acting State Conservationist for NRCS in Iowa. “Empowering TSPs to take on these important tasks will also extend the focus on the customer service NRCS provides to ensure producers get the help they need to be productive and profitable.”
NRCS field offices will begin accepting applications for the pilot project immediately. The deadline for applying is NRCS’ close of business on June 15.
Successful practices and methods developed through the pilot project may be adapted for use in other states and help inform future USDA conservation policies. The NRCS administers the project through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
TSPs are individuals or businesses who have technical expertise in conservation planning and design for a variety of conservation activities. Farmers, private businesses, nonprofit organizations and public agencies hire TSPs to provide these services on behalf of the NRCS. The NRCS must approve plans and practices recommended by TSPs to ensure that they meet the agency’s standards.
Every certified TSP must be trained in development of at least one conservation activity plan, and verify they have the essential knowledge, skills and abilities to be a TSP.
The NRCS encourages everyone interested in finding out more about becoming a TSP or the TSP pilot project to contact their local NRCS office.