PARTNER SPOTLIGHT — THEODORE ROOSEVELT CONSERVATION PARTNERSHIP

The mission of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership (TRCP) is to guarantee all Americans quality places to hunt and fish.

TRCP works to unite and amplify partner voices to advance America’s legacy of conservation, habitat, and access. In order to accomplish their goal, they collaborate with non-profits, businesses, donors, lawmakers, and sportsmen and sportswomen. Their statement of values guides all those who work with them toward their goal.

In 1912, Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.” While in the political arena, he succeeded in making conservation a top-tier national issue. Roosevelt had the foresight to address these issues still so significant to sportsmen today, understanding that if we want to safeguard critical habitat, productive hunting grounds, and favorite fishing holes for future generations, we must plan carefully today.

Read the blog or learn more about how you can help.

WEBINAR REMINDER — STARTS TOMORROW!

Here’s a reminder to check out our upcoming webinar series as we discuss ways to be more sustainable and conservation minded in your own backyard. You can sign up by emailing our Urban Conservation Education Coordinator, Alina Krone-Hedman, or register using the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/SXJGLPC

We’re looking forward to seeing you then!

AMERICAN FARMLAND TRUST UPDATES SOIL HEALTH ECONOMIC INDICATOR

Last week, the American Farmland Trust (AFT) updated its Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator (R-SHEC) Tool, providing farmers and the conservation community with a means of evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of soil health conservation practices with 2020 price and crop data.

The previous version of the tool used 2019 information. This updated pricing allows farmers to obtain a more accurate picture of the costs and benefits of their investments in soil health.

The R-SHEC Tool is part of a comprehensive set of resources available online and free of charge from AFT on the Soil Health Case Study Methods and Tool Kit webpage.

Learn more in AFT’s press release.

NEW RESOURCE AIDS FARMERS WITH IMPLEMENTING CONSERVATION PROGRAMS

The Center for Rural Affairs has released a series of resource guides that aims to help farmers and ranchers new to implementing conservation practices like cover crops. The resources provide details on two of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s flagship working lands conservation programs: the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). 

Written in both English and Spanish, these resources cover topics such as:

  • What to Know About Working with your USDA Service Center
  • What to know about Eligibility and Enrollment for CSP
  • What to Know About EQIP Application Rankings and Advance Payment Option

For many producers, conservation is an important tool in keeping their farm or ranch resilient for years to come. Oftentimes, producers receive support for implementing conservation practices through programs offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. And that’s where the Center for Rural Affairs says it is hoping to help farmers.

Both CSP and EQIP offer financial and technical assistance to producers who want to improve their natural resources, including soil, water, and wildlife habitat, without taking land out of production.

“This new resource addresses some of the common questions we’ve received from years of connecting with farmers and ranchers, such as ‘Can I participate in federal cost-share programs if I rent the land I farm?’ to ‘How do payments and taxes work for these programs?’” said Kalee Olson, a policy associate at the center.

“One of the most important things a farmer or rancher can do is develop a good relationship with their local NRCS and Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices,” Olson said. “We hope farmers and ranchers will use these resources as a template for starting that partnership.”

The resource guides can be downloaded here.

SOURCE: AgDaily.com

COME JOIN US ON JULY 28 AND 29!

Check out our upcoming webinar series discussing ways to be more sustainable and conservation minded in your own backyard. You can sign up by contacting our Urban Conservation Education Coordinator, Alina Krone-Hedman, at minnehaha.urbanconservation@gmail.com or use this registration link:

USDA OFFERS DISASTER ASSISTANCE TO SOUTH DAKOTA FARMERS AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCERS IMPACTED BY DROUGHT

HURON, S.D., July 9, 2021 – South Dakota agricultural operations have been significantly impacted by the ongoing, severe drought. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has technical and financial assistance available to help farmers and livestock producers recover. As agricultural producers move into recovery mode and assess damages, they should contact their local USDA Service Center to report losses and learn more about program options available to assist in their recovery from crop, land, infrastructure, and livestock losses and damages.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).

NRCS: SOUND GRAZING PRACTICES CRITICAL IN DROUGHT
South Dakota Ag Connection – 07/07/2021

While the rain that fell across South Dakota in varying amounts over the past weekend was welcome, it didn’t change grazing recommendations from the USDA in a drought.

“We’re suggesting ranchers think long-term in their grazing operations, and continue to rotate pastures to leave enough growth for their pastures to recover,” says the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Rangeland Management Specialist Emily Helms.

June 24’s Drought Monitor Map showed nearly the entire state was abnormally dry with most of the state in a moderate or severe drought and about a dozen counties with severe drought. The latest South Dakota NRCS forage production map shows only 70% to 85% of normal production for much of the state.

Tanse Herrmann, South Dakota NRCS State Grazing Lands Soil Health Specialist, says ranchers are running out of grass in some situations, and face some tough decisions.

“There are still options, but grazing pastures short is a short-sighted option,” Herrmann says. “You want to preserve the long-term sustainability and resilience of rangeland resources. Taking those pastures too short in a drought has detrimental effects for more than just next year–a lot of times we see effects two, three and four years later.”

Beau Bendigo, his wife Susanne, and his father Larry, listened to that kind of advice years ago. The resilience they’ve built into land Larry and his wife have leased from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in Ziebach County for more than 50 years is paying off now.

“It was dry in 2002, and we knew we had to do something different,” Bendigo says. “We struggled again in 2006, and began making improvements. We knew there would be more drought.”

“The big changes we made were splitting two big pastures into eight smaller pastures with cross fencing, and adding water tanks to every pasture so they could be rotated and rested,” says Larry.

“We get everything grazed this way,” Beau says. “It’s a night and day difference on even use of the grass.”

Beau says the key to resilience is figuring out what works best on your own land. “Our land isn’t suited to moving cattle every few days. But I figured if we could move cattle every 21 days, we could take half and leave half the forage. So we put the practices in place to do that.”

“You have to be prepared,” Beau adds. “We’re short on moisture, but when you have old grass left, you get more water infiltration and more growth with a little moisture. We’ve got enough grass in our pastures and confidence in our system. It’s working.”

“We never overgrazed, even 20 years ago, and we don’t overgraze now,” Larry adds. “But now Beau can run more cattle on the same land.” Beau says the carrying capacity has increased by 50 head, and there’s enough grass for them even in this drought.

Helms and Herrmann say it’s not too late to use drought management alternatives. They recommend ranchers who are running out of grass talk with an NRCS conservationist and choose a strategy that best fits their operation. Long term, they say, ranchers can build resilience to drought by rotating and then resting pastures, giving plants time to recover and building healthier soils.

The NRCS offers an online Drought Tool and other aids for drought planning, and direct assistance to producers across South Dakota. These include NRCS South Dakota Drought Resources and the South Dakota Grasslands Coalition — Mentor Network.

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT — BOONE AND CROCKETT CLUB

The Boone and Crockett Club’s history is a 130-year long tale of measured and thoughtful commitment to wild land and wildlife conservation. This commitment balances human and wildlife needs and sees deep value in preserving the hunting tradition. It’s a commitment shaped by visionaries and a common-sense, science-based approach to natural resource management. It’s an effort that has saved many wildlife species from extinction and it’s considered one of our nation’s greatest accomplishments.

It is the mission of the Boone and Crockett Club to promote the conservation and management of wildlife, especially big game, and its habitat, to preserve and encourage hunting and to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship in North America.

Join the club, or sign up to receive their newsletter before deciding to join.

SAVE THE DATES FOR CTIC’S 2021 VIRTUAL CONSERVATION IN ACTION TOUR

The 14th annual Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) Conservation in Action Tour will take visitors around the country in a special virtual series of four “stops” in July and August 2021. The four-part online tour series will be broadcast as part of the American Society of Agronomy’s Sustainable Agronomy Conference.

Registration is free, and CEUs will be available to CCAs who attend.

Here’s the lineup:

  • July 20 – Carbon Farming
  • August 3 – Phosphorus Management
  • August 17 -Pollinator Habitat
  • August 24 -Connecting for Conservation

Click here for more information on the tour and a link for free registration. 

NEED ANY NATIVE PLANTS?

We are opening orders for native plants today! Orders are due July 30, 2021.

Click on the image or go to the website to download / print the order form. Plants ordered before July 15 will be available for pick up at the District shed around July 19. Plants ordered after July 15 will be available the first week of August.

As always, we appreciate your business!

USDA ANNOUNCES DATES FOR CRP GENERAL AND GRASSLANDS SIGNUPS

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has set a July 23, 2021, deadline for agricultural producers and landowners to apply for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) General signup 56. Additionally, USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications for CRP Grasslands from July 12 to August 20. This year, USDA updated both signup options to provide great incentives for producers and increase its conservation benefits, including reducing the impacts of climate change.

Both signups are competitive and will provide for annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

Find the full press release here.

NRCS PROVIDING SUPPORT FOR URBAN FARMING

USDA’S Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has been assisting urban farmers for over 10 years. Since 2010, NRCS state offices have provided more than $18 million to 130 entities in the form of grants and agreements to support urban agriculture and conservation projects.

High tunnels with tomato cultivars

From 2014 to 2019, NRCS completed more than 18,000 conservation practices totaling $41 million on urban farms covering more than 100,000 acres. NRCS can provide urban farmers with technical and financial assistance to make critical on-farm improvements in a variety of ways. This includes things such as:

Soil health practices: NRCS can help urban farmers develop strategies for improving soil conditions tailored to a farm’s specific needs through things like nutrient management plans and cover crop practices. NRCS can also provide best management practices to help farmers avoid growing crops in contaminated soil.

Irrigation and water catchment systems: NRCS develops irrigation water management plans to assist urban farmers such as rainwater catchment, automated pumps, pipelines and water-efficient drip irrigation systems to help reduce water use, soil erosion and maximize yields.

Managing weeds and pests: NRCS can help with pest management practices – advising on crop rotations and various types of mulches to reduce weeds and manage insects that harm crops. NRCS can also help with the installation of bat and owl boxes, promote beneficial insects, and companion plantings.

High tunnels: High tunnels extend the growing season and protect plants from harsh weather, air pollution and pests. By making local produce available for more months in the year, fewer resources are used to transport food. NRCS helped producers construct over 18,500 high tunnels on farms around the nation – 9,000 were constructed between 2016 and 2019.

Pollinator habitat: Pollinator habitats help to increase production yields by attracting birds and beneficial insects, such as butterflies and bees. Pollinator plantings provide habitat along with providing nectar as a food source contributing to a healthy ecosystem that is essential for farmers to grow food.

Windbreaks: Plants can help to reduce soil erosion, conserve energy, reduce heating bills, and serve as a sound barrier in urban neighborhoods and provide shelter for plants and create habitat for wildlife.

Energy efficiency: Urban Farming is part of the green infrastructure movement. Recommendations from NRCS Energy Audits have funded conversions of combustion motors such as those in irrigation pumping systems to the use of electric, solar or gravity fed systems. Audits also encourage the use of high efficiency heating and cooling systems that reduce costs.

To learn more, go to farmers.gov or contact Alina Krone-Hedman or John Parker.

SOURCE: Southeast Agnet

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE?
Episode 8: The Economics of Sustainable Agriculture
By Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

How do you make a farm or ranch more sustainable? There is no single answer, but SARE’s video series “What is Sustainable Agriculture?” highlights some common practices farmers and ranchers across the country use to improve profitability, quality of life, and environmental stewardship. In this final episode we look at the business side of agriculture and profit strategies we can use when sustainability is a priority.

Learn more at https://www.sare.org/resources/what-is-soil-health/.

SOURCE: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

EXCESS TREE SALE

The Minnehaha Conservation District will be selling excess trees next Tuesday, June 15th and Wednesday, June 16th from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. each day at the District shed, located at 1120 E. 72nd St. N., Sioux Falls.  The cost will be $3.00/tree (or $68.00 for a bundle of 25), plus tax. 

These trees will be available on a first come first served basis.  There will be NO EARLY SALES!

Directions to the District shed: 2 miles south of the Renner corner, or ¾ mile north of I-90 and Cliff Avenue on the west side of the road.


WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE?
Episode 7: Sustainable Grazing and Pasture Management
By Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

How do you make a farm or ranch more sustainable? There is no single answer, but SARE’s video series “What is Sustainable Agriculture?” highlights some common practices farmers and ranchers across the country use to improve profitability, quality of life, and environmental stewardship. This episode highlights some common practices farmers and ranchers use to conserve and manage water. “Cover Crops and Soil Health” provides a short, animated outline of basic principles that can be used to introduce or complement more detailed training materials.

Learn more at https://www.sare.org/resources/what-is-soil-health/.

SOURCE: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

NACD RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT BIDEN’S FY22 BUDGET PROPOSAL

On May 28, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) released a statement regarding President Biden’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year. The budget proposes increases in numerous domestic agencies, including a 21% increase for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a 16% increase for the Interior Department, and a 16% increase for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Within the conservation portfolio, the president’s FY22 budget proposes a funding level of $886 million for Conservation Operations, a $50 million increase to the account that funds conservation planning and technical assistance. The budget requests $774 million for the Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program within Conservation Operations.

“NACD applauds the additional funding for Conservation Operations, which funds Conservation Technical Assistance,” NACD President Michael Crowder said. “This program helps put boots on the ground in our communities to deliver locally-led conservation where it’s needed most.”

Read the full press release in NACD’s Newsroom.

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE?
Episode 6: Sustainable Grazing and Pasture Management
By Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

How do you make a farm or ranch more sustainable? There is no single answer, but SARE’s video series “What is Sustainable Agriculture?” highlights some common practices farmers and ranchers across the country use to improve profitability, quality of life, and environmental stewardship. In this episode we look at livestock grazing and how management that focuses on the health of pastures and rangelands can be better for your farm or ranch. “Cover Crops and Soil Health” provides a short, animated outline of basic principles that can be used to introduce or complement more detailed training materials.

Learn more at https://www.sare.org/resources/what-is-soil-health/.

SOURCE: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

PARTNER SPOTLIGHT — TROUT UNLIMITED

Fishing. Conservation. Community. We look to the future with hope, for even in difficult times, our mission endures. Together, we are working to protect, reconnect, and restore the places we love to fish.

Want to get involved in the local chapter of Trout Unlimited? Contact one of the people below for more information:
Chapter: 194 – Dakota
Council: 9058 – South Dakota
Contact the chapter president 
Contact the council chair 
Contact the NLC rep

WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE?
Episode 5: Ecological Pest Management
By Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)

How do you make a farm or ranch more sustainable? There is no single answer, but SARE’s video series “What is Sustainable Agriculture?” highlights some common practices farmers and ranchers across the country use to improve profitability, quality of life, and environmental stewardship. In this episode we look at ways to manage pests that reduce off-farm inputs and lead to healthy crops. “Cover Crops and Soil Health” provides a short, animated outline of basic principles that can be used to introduce or complement more detailed training materials.

Learn more at https://www.sare.org/resources/what-is-soil-health/.

SOURCE: Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education

USDA TO INVEST $15 MILLION IN THE FUTURE OF CONSERVATION THROUGH INNOVATION GRANTS PROGRAM

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing up to $15 million to support the development of new tools, approaches, practices, and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program.

CIG partners use creative problem solving and innovation to address our nation’s water quality, air quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat challenges, all while improving agricultural operations. This year, funded CIGs will focus on climate-smart strategies for water resources, soil health (focused on carbon sequestration and climate resilience), nutrient management, grazing lands conservation, and strategies to increase conservation adoption. 

“Through Conservation Innovation Grants, we’re able to co-invest with partners on the next generation of agricultural conservation solutions,” said Acting NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “Using creative problem solving and innovation, CIG partners work to address our nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns, all while helping to ensure the health and longevity of American agriculture.”

All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Proposals must be submitted through the NRCS Program Portal by 11:59 p.m. ET on July 19, 2021.

Complete funding announcement information can be accessed through the Conservation Innovation Grants webpage.

About the CIG Program

The CIG program has three components, CIG Classic, CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials and state-level CIG. Today’s funding opportunity announcement is for CIG Classic, which supports early pilot projects or demonstrations of promising new conservation approaches, tools, and technologies. 

CIG Classic grantees must match each federal dollar invested at least one to one.

NRCS intends to expend at least 10% of the total funding for CIG Classic on projects that are focused on providing conservation benefits to historically undeserved producers.

In April, USDA announced $25 million for CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials, which features collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. Incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing new approaches. The On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials funding opportunity deadline is June 21, 2021.

More Information

For more information on CIG, please visit the CIG website.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is engaged in a whole-of-government effort to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect our nation’s lands, biodiversity and natural resources including our soil, air and water. Through conservation practices and partnerships, USDA aims to enhance economic growth and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers and private foresters. Successfully meeting these challenges will require USDA and our agencies to pursue a coordinated approach alongside USDA stakeholders, including State, local and Tribal governments. 

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.