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Minnesota Leads Nation in Conservation Stewardship

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PHOTO: The Conservation Stewardship Program provides incentives for farmers that take certain steps to help with things such as water quality and soil health. CREDIT: Derek Bakken
PHOTO: The Conservation Stewardship Program provides incentives for farmers that take certain steps to help with things such as water quality and soil health. CREDIT: Derek Bakken
 By John MichaelsonContact
December 23, 2013

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The annual enrollment for the Conservation Stewardship Program is under way. It's an effort that's finding much success in Minnesota. Under CSP, incentives are provided to farmers to strengthen water quality, protect wildlife habitat and enhance soil health. According to Don Baloun, state conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, those goals are coming to fruition thanks to a variety of practices from using cover crops to nutrient management.

"We know that the producers in CSP that have taken on the enhancement to do site-specific nutrient management, those practices are showing significant benefits to holding the nitrates available for the plant and not allowing leaching or letting the nitrates get into our groundwater or surface waters."

Nationally, enrollment in CSP has now reached nearly 60 million acres, but nowhere is the program more popular than in Minnesota, said Adam Warthesen with the Land Stewardship Project.

"We have over 3,700 contracts from the past four years and over $300 million obligated to family farmers and landowners that are employing conservation on their land," he said.

Farmers and ranchers interested in CSP can apply at their local Natural Resources Conservation Service with a sign-up deadline of January 17. The NRCS has a total of 85 offices across the state.

CSP information is at 1.usa.gov/14O1TUJ.

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