CRP offers a variety of ways to protect topsoil

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Under the Conservation Reserve Program established in 1985, producers of cropland in Marion County have the opportunity to receive technical and financial assistance to protect soil, water and related natural-resource concerns on their lands.

Thanks to a newer program called CRP Continuous Sign-up, eligible producers can install conservation buffers on farm or ranch land.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the following is a list of some of the types of buffers eligible for Continuous Sign-up in Marion County:

—  Riparian buffers are considered plantings of trees, shrubs and grasses that catch pollutants in both surface runoff and ground water before those pollutants reach a water body, such as a stream or lake. Riparian buffers also improve fish and wildlife habitat.

—  Filter strips are strips of grass used to trap sediment, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants before they reach streams and lakes.

—  Grassed waterways are strips of grass seeded within cropland where water tends to concentrate or flow off of a field. While they are primarily used to prevent gully erosion, waterways can be combined with filter strips or riparian buffers to trap sediment and other pollutants.

—  Shelterbelts/field windbreaks refers to a row of trees or shrubs used to reduce wind erosion, protect young crops and control blowing snow. These practices also provide excellent protection for wildlife, livestock, houses and farm buildings.

Field windbreaks are similar to shelterbelts but are located along field borders or within the field. In some areas, field windbreaks may be called hedgerow plantings.

—  Contour grass strips are narrow bands of perennial vegetative cover planted on the contour in a crop field and alternated down the slope with strips of crops.

If designed and maintained properly, contour strips can reduce soil erosion, minimize transport of sediment and other water-born contaminants and provide wildlife habitat.

—  Shallow water areas for wildlife are areas of shallow water near or within crop fields that are protected by permanent trees, shrubs and grasses. These areas are vital to enhance wildlife habitat.

For more information about CRP Continuous Sign-up, contact Gary Schuler, district conservationist for the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Marion at 620-382-3714, ext. 30.

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