AgDM newsletter article, November 1998

Conservation Reserve Program – 18th sign-up

Ralph Mayerby Ralph Mayer, Extension Farm Management Specialist, 515-842-2014,

The next general Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) sign-up is scheduled for October 26 through December 11, 1998 at county Farm Service Agency offices.  Contracts for accepted offers will begin on October 1, 1999.  The sign-up will be on a competitive process. 

Offers on tracts may be divided between the general sign-up and the continuous sign-up as some of the land eligible for the general sign-up may be eligible for the continuous sign-up as well. The continuous sign-up often pays more as some practices have a bonus payment.

Environmental Benefits Index

Offers will be accepted based on a score determined by the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). Iowans will compete with landowners on a nationwide basis.  Offers were accepted for the 15th sign-up (spring 1997) with 259 or more points and in the 16th sign-up (fall 1997) with 247 or more points.

The EBI is based on seven factors.  They include:

Influence the decision

Of the total of 435 possible points, landowners can have some impact over about 200.  Areas where a landowner can influence the point score are discussed below.

Wildlife habitat cover
There are five basic choices for habitat cover. Your cover choice determines the points you receive.

Soil erosion control benefits
Land with more erosion potential – higher erosion index (EI) scores higher. The range is from zero points for an EI of three or less to 100 points for an EI of 21 or greater.  The EI is based on soil type, slope length and slope steepness, and climate. Carefully evaluating which parcels to offer can significantly impact total EBI points.

Enduring benefits 
Landowners can get points for enduring benefits for planting trees based on the acres of trees planted. Points are based on the cover and then weighted against the offered acres. Up to 50 points may be obtained for this practice.

When you make an offer, you find out the maximum rental rate possible for the offer.  You will receive one point for every $1 under the rental cap up to $15.  After all offers are made, additional points may be given to landowners who offer land at a rental rate of more than $15 below the maximum.  You can also receive 10 points by declining cost share.

Key decisions

Key decisions a landowner must consider in offering land for enrollment in CRP are:

Answers to these questions will require investigation.  Therefore, it is to your benefit to apply early in the sign-up period in order to have adequate time to obtain the needed answers. Each of these decisions impacts your total EBI score and likelihood of acceptance.

* A forb is basically any broadleaf (wildflower) plant which may or may not be a legume. For CRP purposes it must also be a native plant. NRCS has a list of approved native broadleaf plants which meet the definition.


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