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BCCD to offer cover crop sign-up assistance

The Barton County Conservation District, in cooperation with the Kansas Association of Conservation Districts, will host a sign-up event from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, July 8 to assist farmers with applications for cover crop transition programs. These programs provide technical and financial assistance to reduce risk involved in adding cover crops to an existing rotation.  Conservation experts will be available to answer questions. Programs will include but will not be limited to Farmers for Soil Health and Re:generations. 

Farmers for Soil Health is designed for fields with soybeans and corn in rotation. Numerous other commodity crops, including wheat, may be part of these rotations, but beans and corn are a must. National partners include the National Corn Growers Association, United Soybean Board, National Pork Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and numerous local partners including the Kansas Soil Health Alliance, KACD, the Kansas Soybean Association and the Kansas Corn Commission. Technical Assistance will be provided by Heartland Soil Services. 

Re:generations Initiative requires wheat in its rotation profile. Payments will be made for cover crop transition, in addition to add-on payments for wheat production. This program is presented by ADM and partners. KACD provides technical assistance. 

“Several farmers in Barton and neighboring counties have transitioned to cover crops in recent years to suppress weeds, retain moisture and protect soil from wind and rain erosion,” Veronica Coons, BCCD Manager said. “We’re seeing positive results from these fields. Farmers report decreased inputs and better yields. Drought is a factor, but we’re finding that a living root in the ground provides more benefit overall than naked ground with no live root.”

Since 2022 when the USDA began the Climate-Smart Commodities program, many programs have been introduced, each with unique requirements and payments. The goal of the BCCD cover crop sign up day is to share technical assistance, provide information to compare programs and determine which of the available programs will be the best fit. Same day sign-up, as well as instruction for self-sign-up will be available. Deadlines for sign-up are typically in late summer, and reporting requirements vary.  

Some programs set a specific number of acres they will sign-up in eligible states, so popular programs fill up faster than others, Coons said. Other factors to take into consideration including ability to stack payments from a cover crop program and other local, state, or federal conservation contracts. Depending on the conservation plan, stacking payments can add up to significant savings, absorbing much of the risk of giving cover crops a try.  

Assistance will be available from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, July 8, in the conference room at the USDA office at 926 S. Patton Road in Great Bend. Contact the Barton County Conservation District for more information if needed at 620-792-3346 ext. 303.