The General Conservation Reserve Program is administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA)
. The program cost-shares tree planting
and grass establishment on highly erodible land and pays landowners an annual rental payment for up to 15 years. Although the date of the next general CRP sign-up is uncertain; there is also a continuous sign-up for highly sensitive environmental areas such as riparian areas
adjacent to streams and creek, bottomland areas
, and living snowfences
. For more information contact your county FSA office
. If you have questions regarding tree planting contact your District Forester
Under the general CRP sign-up landowners can receive around $100 per acre land rental rate and 50% cost-share reimbursement for installation of the CRP practice. The CRP bid process is a highly competitive process that utilizes an Environmental Benefits Index (EBI - see below) to score your bid offer. There are several ways to improve your offer the best ways are to:
The Environmental Benefits Index Formula (EBI)
The EBI formula considers several environmental factors. Those factors are: Wildlife, Water Quality, Erosion, Enduring Benefits, Air Quality, and Cost. In order to make your general CRP sign-up bid as competitive as possible you need to understand which of these factors can maximize your bid when selecting the tree planting CRP options.
Evaluates the expected wildlife benefits of the offer and contains the following subfactors that you need to consider:
- Wildlife Habitat Cover (0 to 50 points) - The better your mix for wildlife the more points you generate for your bid. If you are planting trees, your best bet is to plant either a mix of 3 or more hardwood species suited to the wildlife on your area or a stand of mixed northern conifers (750 to 850/acre) with 10 to 20 percent of the field planted to hardwood trees, shrubs, grasses, forbs, and or legumes. Both these mixes give you fifty points. Whether planting trees or grasses it is to your advantage to plant a 50 point mix.
- Wildlife Enhancement (0, 5, or 20) - You can enhance your bid by 5 points by including a wildlife food plot into your bid. Food plots can be between 1 and 5 acres and can occupy no more than 10% of the offered acreage. However, because trees score so highly in other categories you need to consider this factor carefully. By taking these points you may hurt your overall EBI score.
- Wildlife Priority Area (0 or 30 points) - If you are in a wildlife priority area you get 30 points if you are out you get 0. to determine if you are in a Wildlife Priority Area, check the map of the wildlife priority areas.
Water Quality Factor
- Location (0 or 30 points) - If you are in a water quality area you are in and get 30 points. If you are out you get 0 points.
- Groundwater Quality - This factor evaluates the predominant soil types in the field offered and considers the potential of pesticides and nitrogen to leach into groundwater. There is not much you can do to affect this factor.
- Surface Water Quality - Evaluates the amount of sediment that may be delivered into streams or other water courses and the human population impacted. You cannot affect this factor.
Erosion Factor (0 to 100 points) - Evaluates the lands potential to erode as the result of precipitation. The soils water erodibility index (EI) is based upon the predominant 3 soils in the field. The only way to affect this factor is to change the field boundaries in your offer. If you have a predominant soil type in the field offered with a very low EI score you may want to consider dividing the field and removing you low EI soil from your bid offer. This will improve the score for the remaining area offered.
Enduring Benefits Factor (0 to 50 points) - Evaluates the likelihood of certain practices remaining in place beyond the CRP contract period. Planting hardwood trees is the best way to maximize enduring benefits points.
Air Quality Factor (0 to 45 points) - In Iowa the only points available under this factor are through the carbon sequestration subfactor. Ten points are available for tree planting. Planting trees is the best way to maximize air quality points in Iowa.
Cost Factor - Evaluates the cost of the environmental benefit per dollars expended. Offers with lower per acre rental rates may increase probability of acceptance. Offers that do not include cost-share receive ten points. It is probably not wise to refuse cost-share on tree planting projects. Offers below the maximum payment rate will receive one additional point, not to exceed 15 points, for every dollar below the payment rate for the offer. To increase your points in this factor, simply lower your bid offer.
Keep in mind that this information is subject to change. However, it is the best information currently available for the upcoming CRP sign-up. Tree planting is the best way to maximize your EBI points and get into the CRP. If you are planning a tree planting project contact your District Forester for assistance.
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
The EQIP program is administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
. While EQIP legislation in the Farm Bill clearly states the "private, nonindustrial forest land" is eligible for EQIP funding, it is still unclear what funding, if any, will be available for forestry related conservation practices. For additional information check out EQIP on the NRCS
Resource Enhancement And Protection Program (REAP)
REAP is a state cost share program administered through the NRCS. REAP provides cost share assistance for timber stand improvement (woodland thinning), tree planting, site preparation for natural regeneration, and tree planting rescue treatments. The minimum project acreage size is 5 acres for timber stand improvement and 3 acres for tree planting. The cost-share level is 75% of the practice cost.
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
The WHIP program is administered through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). WHIP provides cost-share reimbursement for wildlife habitat practices. A portion of Iowa's WHIP allocation will be set aside for woodland wildlife habitat improvement. WHIP will also cost-share on wildlife practices that improve grassland and aquatic habitat. Contact your District Forester
, Private Lands Biologist
, or District Conservationist for additional information. For additional information check out WHIP on the NRCS
Iowa DNR Shelterbelt Program
The Iowa DNR Wildlife Bureau will provide cost-share assistance on shelterbelts on private lands. Visit the DNR wildlife
page for more information.