New CRP program to build population of upland birds

A new wildlife project will be available to Kansas landowners and producers through the Conservation Reserve Program, according to the Kansas USDA Farm Service Agency.

CRP?s State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement practice CP38E is intended to improve populations of bobwhite quail, ringneck pheasant, greater prairie chicken and other grassland-associated wildlife by creating nesting/brood-rearing habitat on portions of crop fields.

This SAFE project will establish and maintain 30,100 acres of CRP consisting of diverse native grass and forb cover. Quail, pheasant and other grassland birds are species that will benefit from SAFE enrollments.

Priority will be given to using SAFE to complement local efforts, and project coordinators expect upland birds should respond within the first year of planting.

Acres enrolled in the SAFE project will also provide water quality and reduce soil erosion.

To be eligible, land must be located anywhere in Kansas, with priority for land located in Kansas CRP Conservation Priority areas 2, 5 and 8.

In addition, land must meet the basic CRP eligibility requirements.

Acceptable land is cropland that was planted or considered planted to an agricultural commodity in four out of six years between 1996 and 2001 and which is also physically and legally capable of being planted in a normal manner to an agricultural commodity.

Dryland corners of center-pivot irrigation systems also may be eligible.

Rental rates are based on three predominate soils. FSA bases rental rates on the average value of dry-land cash rent for the past three years and adjusts rates to reflect the relative productivity of soils within each county.

FSA will pay a one-time upfront signing incentive payment of $100 per acre for CRP contracts of 10 years or more after eligibility criteria are met and the CRP contract is approved.

A one-time practice incentive payment equal to 40 percent of the eligible installation costs will be paid after the CRP practice is installed, eligible costs are verified and other payment eligibility criteria are met.

FSA also will pay cost-share payments up to 50 percent of the eligible cost of establishing a permanent cover.

Contracts are for not less than 10, nor more than 15 years. The effective date of the CRP contract is the first day of the month following the month of approval.

In certain circumstances, producers may defer the effective date for up to six months.

Maximum acreage enrollment is five acres for fields less than 25 acres, or 20 percent of a field for fields 25 acres or greater, with a maximum acreage of 80 acres per field.

Fields smaller than five acres may be enrolled in their entirety.

Mid-contract management requirements will apply to CP38E enrollments, with activities designed in the conservation plan to maximize the benefits for wildlife throughout the CRP contract period.

Signup for CP38E was schedule to begin March 17, or if/when Congress reauthorizes the continuation of CRP at local FSA county offices and runs continuously until the acreage goal of 30,100 is met.

A fact sheet with a map of priority areas is available at www.fsa.usda.gov/ks.

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