NACD HONORS NATIONAL AWARD WINNERS

Today, NACD recognized winners of its national service awards, and two are from South Dakota!

“NACD is pleased to join with our partners to honor the individuals and conservation districts who have made outstanding contributions to the locally-led conservation movement,” NACD President Tim Palmer said.

Richard and Sara Grim of Grim Ranch in Bonesteel, SD, received the award for producers in recognition of their innovative conservation efforts on their family ranch. The staff of the Gregory County Conservation District and their NRCS field office will also receive recognition for exceptional service in conservation planning as exemplified by Richard and Sara’s stewardship. The Grims are both leaders in their community and are helping producers in their region better understand how to safely use burning as a conservation tool.

USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation, Kevin Norton, presented the NACD/NRCS Olin Sims Conservation Leadership Award to Jamie Johnson of Frankfort, SD, for her meticulous work to preserve the 2,300 acres of crop and grassland she farms with her husband, Brian. Both are NACD Soil Health Champions and employ the five principles of soil health on their operation, including implementing cover crops and practicing no-till. Jamie is a leader in her community as the Spink County Conservation District supervisor, as well as director of the South Dakota Soybean Association.

Congratulations to all, from the Minnehaha Conservation District!

THINK SPRING!

Here’s this year’s order form! Please note that the deadline for ordering is March 3, 2021.

LETTER FROM DAVE REUTER, CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
Pheasants Forever Inc and Quails Forever

Purchase with a Purpose – all proceeds from the seed program support their mission of putting more habitat on the ground, youth in the fields, and birds in the air. 

Conservation Partners,

Hope your new year has started off well. I want to express our sincere gratitude for all your efforts to put quality habitat on the ground — benefitting soil health, water quality, pollinators, birds, and all of wildlife.

We are excited to share our 2021 Seed Program with you. This form includes our 2021 pre-designed mixes with current pricing.  Feel free to pass this along to your cooperators in need of seed mixes.

5 items to remember:

  • Please include Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever on your county vendor list for our seed program.
  • Mixes are available online at www.pfhabitatstore.com where you can view each mix in the SD seed calculator.
  • We provide custom quotes and mixes. Just send your mix to seed@pheasantsforever.org for a price quote.
  • Conservation Districts are eligible to sign up for our partner program for discounts on seed, online access to customized mixes, order history, invoices, seed tags and more. Let me know if you have any questions.
  • We encourage input on additional mixes that you would like to see on the Habitat Store Website and on our existing pre-designed mixes.

In addition to providing excellent habitat at an affordable price, we strive to provide the best technical assistance and customer experience for our cooperators.

Sincerely,

Dave Reuter, Conservation Specialist

Pheasants Forever, Inc and Quail Forever

phone: Office: 563-327-0060, Cell: 563-590-1908

email: dreuter@pheasantsforever.org

Order Seed: 1-866-914-7373

www.pheasantsforever.orgwww.quailforever.org

www.pfhabitatstore.com

UPCOMING GARDEN WEBINARS!

Join Alina on Thursdays at noon to learn more about different kinds of gardens!

WHAT’S GOING ON ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

Conservation Clips is a weekly collection of articles distributed by NACD that provides 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: Pierce CD participates in carbon credit forestry program
01/19/21

The Pierce Conservation District (CD) in Washington is participating in a unique program that will establish urban forestry carbon credits for a county that is home to nearly a million people.

NACD Blog: Minnesota district improves forest management with drone surveillance
01/19/21

The Aitkin County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is taking to the sky to improve forest management in Minnesota.

NCPP SEEKS INPUT FROM PRODUCERS IN NATIONWIDE SURVEY

NACD is part of the National Conservation Planning Partnership (NCPP), a collaboration of five key national conservation partners working to make conservation planning better for our customers.

“The NCPP is currently relying on input from producers across the country as it continues its effort to reinvigorate conservation planning.

We are asking that you help us distribute this survey to farmers, ranchers, and foresters within your conservation district’s region. The survey will obtain feedback on additional ways to strengthen the value of a conservation plan and to improve the delivery of conservation planning assistance to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. Please feel free to circulate this NCPP letter from the NCPP Leadership Team Co-Chair Mike Brown to your planning clients, which describes the goal of the survey and a bit of NCPP’s background.

The survey was developed to expand on the feedback NCPP received in previous employee and client listening sessions in 2018 and 2019. As a result of those sessions, hundreds of suggestions were received and recorded and have been moved forward to improve the conservation planning experience for our valued clients.

The survey will close on Monday, February 15, 2021. All responses will be confidential, and any background information provided will be used for statistical purposes only. Results of this survey will be available in May 2021 on the NCPP website.

As the voice of conservation districts nationwide, we are proud to be part of NCPP’s work in supporting and strengthening our nation’s landowners in protecting our natural resources. Conservation planning is a core of our mission, and we look forward to the work we will accomplish together in increasing productivity and sustainability across our land.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to help share this important survey and for all you do in helping support our conservation mission,

NACD”

SOUTH DAKOTA SOIL HEALTH COALITION RELEASES NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK

The South Dakota Soil Health Coalition (SDSHC) has released a fun, educational, and agriculturally accurate children’s book titled, “The Soil Quilt.” Geared for third graders, “The Soil Quilt” uses the metaphor of a patchwork quilt that layers the planet to explain how a healthy soil covers the landscape.

“SDSHC did a survey with vocational ag teachers and students, and one of the take-aways was that the earlier we start teaching students about soil health, the greater impact it will have,” SDSHC Coordinator Cindy Zenk said. “So we decided to create a book to help children learn about the importance of soil to our lives and our communities. We hope children will learn that what happens in the soil not only produces our food but also creates the diverse landscape we enjoy, strengthens our families, and builds our communities.”

Published by Ag Storytellers, “The Soil Quilt” was written by Amanda Radke of Mitchell, SD, and illustrated by Michelle Weber of Lake Benton, MN. This is Ag Storytellers’ fourth children’s book, with previous titles including “Levi’s Lost Calf,” “Can-Do Cowkids,” and “A Home Run for Peanuts.”

“With their backgrounds in agriculture, Radke and Weber were the perfect team to make this book a reality,” Zenk said. “Amanda’s understanding of rural life helped her write a story that drives home the point that good soil health is about more than just growing food – it’s about growing our families and communities. Michelle’s artistic skills allowed her to bring Amanda’s story to life through fantastic illustrations that highlight the beauty of life in Rural America.”

“The Soil Quilt” is designed to be enjoyed at home and in the classroom. With a glossary of new vocabulary words to study plus a hands-on learning activity, the book is the perfect way to launch discussions about how everyone can play a role in promoting soil health.

“The mission of the SDSHC is to promote improved soil health,” Zenk said. “We hope young readers will enjoy this story and become passionate about the life beneath our feet and the impact it provides.”

The new book is available for purchase on Amazon or by reaching out to the author and illustrator. Radke’s website is www.amandaradke.com and Weber’s is webercustompainting.com. Also visit www.agstorytellers.com to learn more about how Ag Storytellers is promoting agricultural literacy, one book at a time.

For more information about SDSHC, check out www.sdsoilhealthcoalition.org.

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SDSHC is a producer-led, non-profit, membership organization created to promote soil health through education and research.

Ag Storytellers is a publishing company in South Dakota that works to promote agricultural literacy through accurate, engaging, and vibrant books for kids.

PLEASE TAKE OUR SURVEY

Minnehaha Conservation District is asking farmers or individuals interested in urban agriculture throughout Minnehaha County and the surrounding area to please take this brief survey. Responses will help gain a better understanding of local interest in sustainable agriculture in the hopes of developing assistance programs in the future. For questions, or to find out more, please email Alina Krone-Hedman.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

Wishing you a new year filled with new hope, new joy, and new beginnings!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The board and staff of the Minnehaha Conservation District wish all of you a blessed holiday season!

OUR AMAZING GRASSLANDS
Gilbert Family, Buffalo, SD

“I think that’s the big thing about any type of grazing practice, whether you are completely holistic, whether you are doing a two-time-over, whether you’re doing rotational mob grazing, you have to be so aware at all times: What are your grasses doing? What’s happening? What’s the result of this decision?” — Linda Gilbert

The SD Grassland Coalition partnered with the organizations listed below to enhance the Grassland Planner with a release of a short video story each month during 2020 promoting healthy soils, grasslands, and ecosystems.

2020 Grassland Stewardship Communications Project Partners: SD Grassland Coalition, Audubon Dakota, Ducks Unlimited, Partners for Fish and Wildlife, SD Department of Game, Fish and Parks, The Nature Conservancy, Pheasants Forever, SD Soil Health Coalition, South Dakota State University, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

USDA is an Equal Opportunity Provider, Employer and Lender.

FSA ANNOUNCES UPDATED PAYMENT RATES FOR CRP

On Dec. 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced updated payment rates for certain Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) practices by increasing the Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) for certain practices from 5% to 20%. Additionally, producers will receive a 10% PIP for water quality practices on land enrolled in CRP’s continuous signup.

NACD has previously pushed to increase these incentive payments, and this increase will get these payments closer to the 50% cap allowed in the 2018 Farm Bill to further incentivize the enrollment of land that has particularly high conservation benefits.

Continuous enrollments are accepted on a rolling basis, while General CRP applications will be accepted between January 4 – February 12, 2021.

To learn more, visit FSA’s website.

A CLOSER LOOK AT EQIP —
One of NRCS’s Most Popular Conservation Programs
By Sara Wyant

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s EQIP program has put billions of dollars into the hands of producers to address acute conservation needs. The producers must share in the costs of the program.

From coast to coast, farmers and ranchers have found the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to be a great place to find cost share funds to implement practices that can protect the soil and improve water quality. And one of the most popular programs has been the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). But as the program has grown in popularity over the years, demand is far outstripping the number of contracts approved.

SOURCE: Ag Week

2021 Soil Health Conference
January 6-7, 2021

The 2021 Soil Health Conference will be held virtually Jan. 6-7 using the digital tool Whova which will allow for a full schedule of speaker sessions, awards, producer panels, and time to engage with speakers and sponsors. The Whova platform includes an app for your mobile device, so you can join in the fun no matter where you are! Once you register, you will receive email instructions on how to access the Whova website for the conference and download the Whova app.

More information can be found here

REGISTER HERE

Questions? Contact the South Dakota Soil Health Coalition at 605-280-4190 or sdsoilhealth@gmail.com.

Johnson Farms Named Region VII National Environmental Stewardship Award Winner

Johnson Farms of Frankfort, SD, is the Region 7 award winner in the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s National Environmental Stewardship Program. Johnson Farms, along with six other regional finalists, will be considered for the 2021 National Environmental Stewardship Award at the national Cattle Industry Convention in February.

Johnson Farms of Frankfort, South Dakota is operated by Alan and Mickie Johnson, along with their son Brian and his wife Jamie. Love of the land drives all of the Johnson family’s decisions and they are dedicated to improving their soil health through holistic management decisions. Please visit the Environmental Stewardship website for more information.

USDA to Open Signup for the Conservation Reserve Program and CRP Grasslands in Early 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on November 12, 2020 the signup periods for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the CRP Grasslands in 2021. Signup for general CRP will be open from Jan. 4, 2021, to Feb. 12, 2021, and signup for CRP Grasslands runs from March 15, 2021 to April 23, 2021. Both programs are competitive and provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes.

“The Conservation Reserve Program and the many focused programs that come under it, like CRP Grasslands, are some of our most critical tools we have to help producers better manage their operations while conserving natural resources,” said Richard Fordyce, Administrator of USDA’s Farm Service Agency. “As one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors, CRP has proved to protect our valuable resources, and next year’s signup gives our farmers and ranchers an opportunity to enroll for the first time or continue their participation for another term.”

Enrollment Options

CRP―General Signup

Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to the nation’s environment and economy. CRP general signup is held annually. The competitive general signup includes increased opportunities for enrollment of wildlife habitat through the State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) initiative.

Grasslands Signup

CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, and certain other lands while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and improves environmental quality. A separate CRP Grasslands signup is offered each year following general signup.

Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. It was originally intended to primarily control soil erosion and potentially stabilize commodity prices by taking marginal lands out of production. The program has evolved over the years, providing many conservation and economic benefits. The program marks its 35-year anniversary this December. Program successes include:

  • Preventing more than 9 billion tons of soil from eroding, which is enough soil to fill 600 million dump trucks;
  • Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous runoff relative to annually tilled cropland by 95 and 85 percent, respectively;
  • Sequestering an annual average of 49 million tons of greenhouse gases, equal to taking 9 million cars off the road;
  • Creating more than 3 million acres of restored wetlands while protecting more than 175,000 stream miles with riparian forest and grass buffers, which is enough to go around the world seven times; and
  • Benefiting bees and other pollinators and increasing populations of ducks, pheasants, turkey, bobwhite quail, prairie chickens, grasshopper sparrows and many other birds.

The successes of CRP contribute to USDA’s Agriculture Innovation Agenda and its goal of reducing the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture by half by 2050. Earlier this year, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the department-wide initiative to align resources, programs and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. 

For more information on CRP, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local FSA county office.   

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

The Board of Supervisors and staff of the Minnehaha Conservation District would like to thank all of you for your business this year, and wish you a happy, peaceful, healthy Thanksgiving. May we be aware of all of our blessings, large and small, and may we be a blessing in return.

NACD GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS UPDATE ON THE 2021 APPROPRIATIONS BILL
By Eric Hansen, NACD Government Affairs Manager

Even though Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) began on October 1, Congress has not yet passed a full year federal funding bill or appropriations bill. Currently, the federal government is operating under a short-term extension, or continuing resolution (CR), that is set to expire on December 11. Without additional action by Congress, the government will be forced to shut down.

HERE IS THE LATEST EDITION OF THE SOIL HEALTH COALITION’S NEWSLETTER!

The latest edition of “Soil Visions” newsletter has now been released! Click on the image below to view the full PDF. Are you interested in learning more about specific topics? Contact the Soil Health Coalition and/or visit the technical resource pages of their website

FALL 2020 NATIONAL COVER CROP SUMMIT
November 17-18, 2020

Get free access to a diverse learning program of speakers addressing cover crop topics including aerial seeding, feeding livestock cover crops through the winter, incorporating cover crops into crop rotations, and more. Cronin Farms Agronomy Manager / SD Soil Health Coalition Board Member Dan Forgey is presenting!

The third National Cover Crop Summit is free-to-attend, 2-day online event that will feature a series of knowledge-building presentations taught by the foremost authorities on cover crops today. Requiring no travel expense or time away from the office or farm, you will be able to participate from the comfort of your own office through a series of online presentation videos delivering practical tips and information on managing cover crops to improve soil health, protect the environment and enhance on-farm profitability.

You should attend the National Cover Crop Summit if you…

  • Currently use cover crops on your farm.
  • Are interested in beginning to use cover crops on your farm.
  • Want to learn more about cover crop products, techniques, challenges and successes.
  • Are an Extension or NRCS official, certified crop advisor or other educator or stakeholder interested in cover crop applications.
  • Are an equipment dealer or product manufacturer seeking information on how to better serve your customers who are seeding cover crops in their farming operations.

The National Cover Crop Summit is free to attend — Sign up here. However, if you’re looking to make get the most out of your Summit experience, they are offering a VIP ACCESS upgrade for just $49. When you upgrade to VIP you’ll receive:

  • 12-month extended access to all 6 Fall 2020 National Cover Crop Summit presentations.
  • Access to 11 exclusive bonus presentations from the 2019 National Cover Crop Summit. Learn more here.
  • A complimentary package of 3 Cover Crop Management Reports offering practical cover crop ideas and advice from some of today’s leading cover crop experts. Learn more here.

FREE ACCESS EVENT SCHEDULE — Unlike an in-person “live” event, there are no set time slots during which individual sessions will only be viewable. To allow you the opportunity to participate on your own schedule, all presentation videos will be posted online at 8 a.m. CST on Nov. 17, and remain accessible on-demand through Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. CST.

VIP ACCESS EVENT SCHEDULE — Unlike registrants with FREE ACCESS, when you upgrade to VIP you’ll receive extended access meaning you can continue to watch and replay all of the National Cover Crop Summit presentations for 12 additional months after the end of the event.

Questions? Email info@covercropstrategies.com or call (262) 432-0388 or (866) 839-8455 to speak with a customer service representative.