HARTINGTON — Over the last several years there has been considerable conversion of pasture and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land to row crop throughout areas in northeastern Nebraska according to officials of LCNRD. 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 a 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. The LCNRD offers cost share programs including one to establish cover crops on no-till fields which are 10 to 80 acres in size, and where corn stalks have not been harvested. The LCNRD and Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (NGP) also offers an incentive payment for including small grains in your crop rotation. If you are interested in establishing a cover crop to include small grains on your acres please contact the NRCS office in Cedar, Dixon, or Knox Counties for more information.
An example of sediment deposition due to soil erosion in the Lewis and Clark NRD.