If you’re like us, it feels like we’re all very focused on what’s going on across the country as far as COVID-19 is concerned. It was almost a relief to read these articles and feel somewhat “normal” again. For a brief respite from the fears and concerns, read on.

Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides our members and partners with the latest news in what’s driving conservation. These articles are not indicative of NACD policy and are the opinions of their authors, unless otherwise noted. If you have a relevant submission or need assistance with accessing articles, please contact the NACD Communications Team.

NACD Blog: NACD offers educational pollinator field day guide

Conservation districts now have a new tool in their toolkit for teaching the important topic of pollinators.  NACD has released a free, first-of-its-kind curriculum, “A Guide to Conducting a Pollinator Conservation Field Day,” which is available for download through NACD’s new Conservation Education Hub.

AgDaily: Ag groups unite to advocate for conservation funding support

[This Thursday], 76 leading farm, conservation, and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress requesting full funding for conservation programs and technical assistance in fiscal year 2021 appropriations.

GrowingGeorgia: NACD Announces $8.5 Million in Grants to Conservation Districts

This is the third year of the Technical Assistance Grants program, created with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S.

Farm and Dairy: Conservation planning helps save our soil
By Irene Moore

Now, more than ever before, American farmers and ranchers face a seemingly impossible task — to feed a rapidly growing global population. This challenge is being met with fewer farmable acres, less freshwater and more pronounced climate change. In an effort to assist the landowners and operators to meet these challenges, the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP) was formed to emphasize the critical role that conservation planning plays in advancing voluntary conservation efforts on private lands.

Agri-Pulse: Agri-Pulse Poll: Farmers back carbon markets, but divided on climate change
By Philip Brasher

(Subscriber Only) Nearly one in every two American farmers would be interested in being paid to help reduce climate change, even though the climate issue is a relatively low priority and producers aren’t necessarily worried about its impact on their operations. The poll, conducted between Feb. 19 and March 13, also found that large majorities of farmers already have undertaken many practices that conserve carbon in the soil, reduce the use of pesticides and other inputs, or curb runoff of pollutants that can foul streams and lakes.

TIME Magazine: ‘Without Empathy, Nothing Works.’ Chef José Andrés Wants to Feed the World Through the Pandemic
By Sean Gregory

José Andrés’ rapidly expanding charity, World Central Kitchen, is as prepared as anyone for this moment of unprecedented global crisis. The nonprofit stands up field kitchens to feed thousands of people fresh, nourishing, often hot meals as soon as possible at the scene of a hurricane, earthquake, tornado or flood.

EurekAlert!: Changing forests

Using the U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis database, researchers at UC Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and the U.S. Forest Service have studied how the traits of tree communities are shifting across the contiguous United States. The results indicate that communities, particularly in more arid regions, are becoming more drought tolerant, primarily through the death of less hardy trees.

Bay Journal: Forests’ hidden wetlands work for wildlife, water quality
By Kathy Reshetiloff

Many forested wetlands have standing water on a seasonal or temporary basis. They provide the same benefits as marshes even if it is not as apparent.

PennState: Organic soybean producers can be competitive using little or no tillage
By Jeff Mulhollem

Organic soybean producers using no-till and reduced-tillage production methods that incorporate cover crops — strategies that protect soil health and water quality — can achieve similar yields at competitive costs compared to tillage-based production.

Yale Environment 360: Can ‘Carbon Smart’ Farming Play a Key Role in the Climate Fight?
By Gabriel Popkin

Markets are emerging to pay farmers to store more carbon in the soil by using improved agricultural practices. But flows of greenhouse gases into and out of soil are complex, and some scientists are questioning whether these efforts will actually help slow global warming.

Phys.org: Researchers forecast longer, more extreme wildfire seasons

In California, a changing climate has made autumn feel more like summer, with hotter, drier weather that increases the risk of longer, more dangerous wildfire seasons, according to a new Stanford-led study.

E&E News: Bernhardt approves 11K miles of fire breaks out West
By Scott Streater

(Subscriber Only) The Interior Department announced today that it has formally approved a sweeping plan designed to protect communities and wildlife habitat in six Western states from the threat of wildfires.

ABC News: Largest U.S. dam removal stirs debate over coveted West water
By Gillian Flaccus

The second-largest river in California has sustained Native American tribes with plentiful salmon for millennia, provided upstream farmers with irrigation water for generations and served as a haven for retirees who built dream homes along its banks. With so many competing demands, the Klamath River has come to symbolize a larger struggle over the increasingly precious water resources of the U.S. West, and who has the biggest claim to them.

Phys.org: Impacts of cover crop planting dates on soil properties after 4 years

In a recent article in Agronomy Journal, researchers investigated how broadcasting cover crops pre-harvest or drilling post-harvest affected biomass production and soil properties after four years.

SOURCE: https://www.nacdnet.org/news-and-events/publications/conservation-clips/


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is accepting proposals through May 11 for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), now in its second year. On-Farm Trials, part of the agency’s Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program, help support the adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches on agricultural land.

“NRCS has achieved tremendous success seeking innovative technologies and approaches to enhance conservation for agricultural producers and forest landowners for nearly 20 years,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “The 2018 Farm Bill enhanced CIG by strengthening its demonstration component, allowing the agency to work with producers and partners to discover new conservation approaches and tools or enhance existing ones.”

NRCS will invest up to $25 million on On-Farm Trials in 2020. This total includes up to $10 million for the Soil Health Demonstration Trials (SHD) priority.

On-Farm Trials funding is designed to offer, through partners, technical and financial assistance to producers to help compensate for any risks associated with implementation of new conservation practices, systems and approaches. In addition, the trials require evaluation of the innovative conservation practices, systems and approaches at the farm level, including environmental, financial and social, (to the extent possible) impacts of carrying them out.

Visit the grants.gov website and view the On-Farms Trials funding announcement (tinyurl.com/tuuebcw).

NRCS is seeking proposals that address at least one of the following four On-Farm Trial main priorities:

• Irrigation management technologies.

• Precision agriculture technologies and strategies.

• Management technologies and strategies.

• Soil health demonstration trials.

NRCS will accept proposals from the following eligible entities:

• Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture.

• Non-government organizations with experience working with agricultural producers.

• Non-Federal government agencies.

This is the second funding opportunity for On-Farm Trials, authorized through the 2018 Farm Bill. In 2019, NRCS funded 16 On-Farm Trials projects.

The On-Farm Trials component is distinct from the national CIG competitive grants funding, which is used to support early pilot projects or demonstrations of promising conservation approaches and technologies and is not typically provided directly to producers.

For more information, please visit the grants.gov funding opportunity for 2020. or visit NRCS’s On-Farm Trials webpage at tinyurl.com/y6z2h28k.


SOURCE: https://www.aberdeennews.com/farm_forum/usda-seeks-proposals-for-on-farm-conservation-and-soil-health/article_8db2a718-66f8-11ea-b506-a38e9727772c.html



For your reading pleasure, because we just KNOW you’re getting tired of watching TV or waiting to plant, we offer to you the latest edition of Plant Chat. There’s a lot of good info in this one!

Seed Testing Reminder

As spring approaches, it is important to remind producers about germination requirements of any purchased seed or carryover seed they may be using for NRCS cost-share programs. Germination testing is important to help assure that proper seeding rates are being planted. When seed is sold, seed laws in each state specify a limit for the age of a germination test (Table 1). These requirements also apply to seed used for NRCS cost share programs. When a producer purchases seed, they should verify that germination testing dates meet their State seed law and NRCS program rules. Seed that is stored or carried over by a producer also needs to meet the germination testing standard. Seed vendors are aware of testing requirements, but it is easy to forget about retesting older purchased seed stored in a bin or shop. Seed lots with test dates that do not meet the standard need to have a new germination test run by an accredited seed testing lab (a tetrazolium test is not an acceptable substitute for a germination test). Even if germination testing is not required, a new test may be warranted if seed has been improperly stored. Heat and high humidity can greatly reduce germination and are the major killers of stored seed. Germination tests for grass and forb species generally take 14 to 28 days, so it is important to plan ahead.


The speech contest originally scheduled for tomorrow, March 24, is cancelled due to the coronavirus. Please check back for updates.

Also, we cannot make any in-person appointments at this time. If you have any questions or concerns for the Minnehaha Conservation District, please contact John at 605-370-3480 or Hersh at 605-336-1527. To contact the NRCS, call 605-330-4515 ext. 3.

Like you, we hope all of this passes sooner rather than later. We are doing our part to “flatten the curve”. Thanks for your patience and understanding.


The Minnehaha Conservation District will not be holding a meeting in March, due to mandated meeting numbers and the Corona virus.  The next scheduled meeting is on Tuesday, April 14 at 3:00 pm due to Monday, April 13 being a state holiday.


This week, the National Conservation Partnership held discussions and agreed to send a joint message on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Beginning Monday, March 23, USDA service centers will be instituting locked door policies, with no public access to USDA offices. One employee per agency will be permitted in the office (one conservation district employee, one NRCS employee, one FSA employee, etc.) on a rotating schedule. High-risk employees will not be subject to rotation during this full telework plan.

Many state open meeting rules have temporarily changed to accommodate teleconference or video conferencing, with signatures only occurring when necessary outside of the service center facility.

Field work where necessary may continue to occur, but with only one employee per vehicle, with social distancing between them and their cooperator strictly observed. There is work to be done, and our field work will continue, but we must adapt to support getting this work done with limited personal contact. It is of the utmost importance that we all do our part to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19.

This situation is rapidly evolving. USDA anticipates program deadlines will likely be extended, but the agency intends to make payments to our nation’s producers and landowners on time. USDA will be making another assessment about this full telework policy on April 3, but changes to plans may occur between now and then. Visit USDA’s COVID-19 website for national updates.

The Minnehaha Conservation District — Sioux falls office is open by appointment only. Clients will be screened and access determined. To make an appointment, contact John at 605-370-3480 or Hersh at 605-336-1527. To contact the NRCS, call 605-330-4515 ext. 3.

Although the exact effect on conservation in the next few weeks is yet to be determined, we know that conservation efforts cannot come to a complete halt. We stand together to continue to work as a partnership on this important issue and provide information when appropriate. We must adapt during this unprecedented time to protect the health and safety of our employees, customers, cooperators and communities by limiting exposure.