Tractors are humming as fields are prepared for planting, but a local conservationist says people who are enrolled in USDA programs must continue to comply with conservation rules.
"It's still important to carry out those conservation practices on cropland in order to remain eligible for all farm program benefits," said Jim Lahn, Natural Resource Conservation Service director for Plymouth County.
People who are enrolled in any government ag programs must comply with conservation rules, he explained. Farmers who don't comply risk losing their eligibility for USDA programs such as loan deficiency payments (LDPs), he said.
Requirements that include leaving some crop residue on top of the soil after tillage must be followed. Lahn said that is especially important. Farmers also should reseed end rows after disking.
Lahn said farmers sometimes forget to reseed end row areas. It's OK to plant crops in end rows for a couple of years, he said, but farmers must maintain their conservation compliance.
"They can revise their plan, but they have to work with conservation and not ignore it," Lahn said. Any other conservation plan revisions also need clearance through the conservation office, he added.
Lahn said studies continue to support farming on contours and utilizing terraces.
Farmers need to take particular care when injecting liquid hog manure into fields with bean stubble. Doing that reduces the bean stubble residue, which can result in erosion, Lahn explained.
There is much less concern about phosphorous pollution when conservation practices are in place, he said.
"The phosphorous index is very low for producers who have their lands terraced," Lahn said.
Conservation officials conduct random field checks each year to make certain that USDA program participants are in compliance with conservation regulations. Plymouth County farmers who have questions about their conservation requirements are asked to call Lahn at 546-8858.