The second round of a cost-share for irrigation system upgrades and associated practices is now available to producers in 19 Minnesota counties. This cost-share is available through a Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awarded by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).
The program is available to producers with irrigation systems located within Becker, Benton, Cass, Dakota, Douglas, East Otter Tail, Grant, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Wadena, Washington, and West Otter Tail Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCD). Applications will be accepted through December 16, 2022, and are available through the 20 local SWCD offices.
The program provides financial and technical support to irrigators looking to adopt and integrate proven precision irrigation technology and nitrogen management practices to help optimize irrigation system operation. This will help address groundwater quality and quantity issues under irrigated cropland. During the first round of sign-ups this spring, 12 irrigators from seven counties received a total of over $685,000 in cost-share.
The cost-share is available for practices such as installing soil moisture sensors for irrigation scheduling, upgrades of sprinkler packages, conversion to variable rate application, advanced irrigation water management, and fertigation retrofits. The cost-share amount varies; applicants should contact their local SWCD for more information.
Acres receiving cost-share for irrigation practices are also eligible for cost-share money for cover crops, residue and tillage management, and nutrient management.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, USDA NRCS, the 20 SWCDs, Central Lakes College, AgCentric, University of Minnesota, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, state agencies, irrigator associations, and businesses have partnered to offer this program as part of a $3.5 million grant from the NRCS.
In addition to providing the cost-share, a limited number of irrigators will receive a stipend to participate in the AgCentric Farm Business Management Program to provide an annual financial analysis of their operation.
More information is available through the program website: https://agcentric.org/rcpp-precision-irrigation/. Contact your local SWCD for more information about the program and how to apply.