DES MOINES - Landowners interested in enrolling cropland in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have less than a week to make an offer at their local USDA Farm Service Agency office.
"This is the last chance for now to take advantage of the general CRP signup to reduce erosion, improve water quality and make a difference for upland bird populations," said Todd Bogenschutz, the DNR's pheasant biologist.
The program is voluntary for farmers and ranchers who want to see environmental benefits on their most vulnerable land. Landowners receive rental payments, cost-share and technical assistance in exchange for planting long-term, resource-conserving vegetation such as grass, grass-wildflower mixes or trees.
Rental rates have been updated since the last general CRP signup in 2010.
Bogenschutz added that the general CRP program often provides better bird habitat than the continuous CRP signup because the ground is usually on hillsides that are not subject to flooding. "The last few years we've had lots of water during May and June, the crucial times for nesting," he said.
Putting permanent vegetation on upland sites improves the nesting success of pheasant, quail, songbirds, turkey and ducks. He suggests visiting the local FSA office before April 15 to ensure plenty of planning time.