May 26, 2023

Land within the Lewis and Clark Natural Resources District (LCNRD) boundaries has experienced considerable conversion of pasture and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to row crop. Grassland acres with steep slopes which are broken out and brought into crop production run a high risk for erosion which could lead to sediment problems for downstream neighbors.

When converting pasture or CRP to row crop, landowners need to be aware of all consequences associated with bringing land into production. The Nebraska Erosion and Sediment Control Act (ESCA) and associated rules and regulations are established for landowners experiencing excessive erosion and sediment damage from upstream landowners. If excessive erosion and sediment deposition occurs during normal rainfall events, impacted landowners can file a complaint to address the issue. Complaints that meet ESCA criteria can result in required crop rotation on the acres causing the sediment damage.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also administers sodbuster regulations outlined in the current farm bill. If the conservation plan, that controls erosion rates, is not being followed, the landowner can be deemed ineligible for all USDA benefits and programs. This includes all payments associated with commodity payments, CRP, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), farm loans, just to name a few.

Over the long term, establishment and maintenance of sufficient crop residue and root mass, through crop rotation and cover crops, can help reduce soil loss. NRCS and LCNRD implement cost share programs to enhance soil health and/or reduce soil erosion or cropped acres. LCNRD and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (NGP) offer an incentive payment for including small grains in your crop rotation. If you are interested in establishing a cover crop or including small grains on your acres, please contact the NRCS office in Cedar, Dixon, or Knox Counties for more information.

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