The past drought may provide farmers a false sense of security when it comes to wetland compliance, according to the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Conservationists warn producers to think about wetland provisions when installing tile, clearing trees or completing other land altering measures.
"Farmers are advised to ask NRCS to check for wetlands before tiling or removing trees or when tiling areas that were cropped the last two years because of the drier-than- normal conditions," says Jay Mar, state conservationist for Iowa NRCS.
Persons who request benefits on land that they own or operate that is subject to Wetland Conservation provisions are required to file Form AD-1026 certification at their Farm Service Agency county office. To maintain eligibility for USDA program benefits, USDA participants must certify that they have not produced crops on wetlands converted after Dec. 23, 1985, and that they did not convert a wetland to make agricultural production possible after Nov. 28, 1990.
Don't be fooled by past dry growing seasons, remember to ask NRCS to check for wetlands determination
Any activity that alters natural wetlands, making the production of an agricultural commodity or forage crop more possible is prohibited. These conversion activities may include:
* Draining (surface ditching or subsurface tiling)
* Land leveling
* Clearing woody vegetation where stumps are removed
* Diverting run-off water from a wetland (i.e. building a diversion)~~~PAGE_BREAK_HERE~~~
Farmers could lose eligibility for USDA programs if they violate wetland conservation provisions, according to USDA FSA state director John Whitaker. For more information or to request a wetland determination, please visit your local USDA Service Center.
NRCS is asking farmers to rethink tillage as a choice for cover crop termination
In other conservation-related news, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service is asking farmers to rethink the decision to use tillage as a termination method for their cover crops, instead of herbicide, according to Barb Stewart, state agronomist with the NRCS in Des Moines.
"These farmers are concerned the cool, soggy spring may reduce the plant's ability absorb the chemicals," says Stewart.
However, tilling the soil under these conditions will cause severe compaction and damage to soil structure undoing many of the benefits created by the cover crops, she adds. "By the time field conditions improve enough for a tillage pass, the conditions will also be good for herbicide termination of cover crops," said Stewart.
Cover crops still need to be terminated at planting time, as specified by crop insurance rules
NRCS conservationists recommend waiting it out until conditions are better for herbicide application and avoiding tillage to terminate cover crops. "This will protect soil health and productivity," says Stewart.
Bob Hartzler, weed management specialist with ISU Extension, says when using Roundup to terminate rye it's best to apply a few weeks before planting corn. "With soybeans it's less critical," he says. Due to the cool, wet spring the Regional USDA Risk Management Agency is allowing approved insurance providers, at their sole discretion, to extend the grazing period for cover crops to May 22. Producers must check with their local insurance provider. Cover crops still need to be terminated at planting time and planting dates have not changed.