Irrigated growers in a designated priority area in southwest Kansas may qualify to conserve water on their farms through the USDA's Agricultural Water Enhancement Program.
Producers in Groundwater Management District 3's priority area have until May 27 to apply for the program, which is administered by the Natural Reserouces Conservation Service.
NRCS enters into agreements with conservation partners to help landowners plan and implement conservation practices.
The southwest Kansas GMD 3 project area was funded for a five-year period receiving $1 million for fiscal year 2011. NRCS and the GMD 3 will address water quantity resource concerns converting irrigated cropland to dryland cropland acres and reducing irrigation water use. The eligible areas are located in parts of, Finney, Ford, Grant, Gray, Haskell, Kearny, Meade, Morton, Seward, Stanton, and Stevens Counties.
"With the addition of GMD 3, the NRCS continues to work hard to support efforts to protect and preserve our water resources in Kansas with our partners," said state conservationist Eric Banks. GMDs 2, 4, and 5 are the other AWEP project areas and producers in those GMDs were able to sign up for AWEP funding earlier this year.
AWEP partner proposals are selected using a competitive process that considers several factors including statutorily defined priority areas, emphasis for water conservation activities such as conversion of irrigated land to dryland farming, and assistance to farmers and ranchers to meet regulatory requirements. Approved partners enter into multi-year agreements with the NRCS to promote ground and surface water conservation on eligible agricultural lands in the project area. Additional information about AWEP and a map of project areas is available at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/awep.
AWEP agreements provide assistance to producers through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. All participants must meet EQIP eligibility requirements.
In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to AWEP.
Information about other NRCS conservation programs can be found at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov/programs.