Short-term Habitat Approaches (Immediate – 12 months)
Approach 1 – Expand existing saline soil program.
Build upon the existing saline and sodic soil program currently implemented by Pheasants Forever and SD Corn by using one-time funds to further market the program and enroll additional landowners. Under this approach, each additional $1 million could enroll approximately 5,000 acres of marginal saline and sodic soils and provide habitat for upland nesting birds and other wildlife.
Approach 2 – Implementation of conservation provisions of the Farm Bill.
GFP and other conservation partners will be ready to provide assistance to USDA to implement conservation provisions of the newly passed Farm Bill.
- Emphasis will be to maximize landowner enrollment into the CRP program by providing assistance through the various partnership positions across the state.
- Workshops and informational meetings will be carried out in partnership with various partners.
- GFP will work with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve and maximize habitat opportunities through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and other conservation programs.
Approach 3 – Provide incentive for landowners enrolling in SHIPP.
Under the new Farm Bill, the Soil Health and Income Protection Program (SHIPP) will be a 50,000 acre pilot program to be enrolled by the end of 2020, available in Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) states. It is uncertain how those acres will be enrolled or distributed across the five states within the PPR.
- GFP cost-share incentive will be made available for those lands enrolled in a 5-year agreement to help cover the cost of seed to be planted to a conservation cover.
- The cost-share incentive excludes haying and mowing in 2 of the 5 years.
Long-term Habitat Approaches (6 months – 3 years)
Approach 4 – Continue working lands conservation through a USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
Moving forward and once the Federal Farm Bill conservation programs are ready for implementation, the next practical step would be to leverage available federal funding by drafting and submitting a proposal to NRCS through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP).
- Explore the development of a RCPP for SD to continue the SHIPP program concept above and beyond the one-time pilot approach.
- Additionally, the RCPP proposal to include further utilizing CRP as that program has been added to RCPP in the new Farm Bill.
- This working lands and habitat RCPP approach would require partners to generate the funding match; leveraging funds will provide the opportunities to have a larger impact.
Approach 5 – Every Acre Counts.
This research effort at SDSU will improve the profitability, diversity, and ecosystem benefits of agriculture by using precision technologies to empower producers to make sound management decisions for every acre of their operation. By determining the return on investment of alternative practices on marginal lands and developing the decision support tools needed to enable producers to successfully transition to these management strategies, this project will directly benefit the economic stability of farming while applying conservation measures on the ground with the supplementary benefit of more wildlife habitat.