Friday, June 12, 2009

Recovery Act Funding In Louisiana

Recovery Act Funding In Louisiana

$4,470,00 Million from Recovery Act for Rehabilitating of Two Louisiana Watersheds
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on April 16, 2009, that the USDA will be sending $4,470,000 to Louisiana state and local governments to improve water quality, increase water supply, decrease soil erosion, and improve fish and wildlife habitat in rural communities as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Major benefits include improved community safety and health, flood mitigation, sediment control, and enhanced fish and wildlife habitat.

ARRA funds will be used in Red Bayou and Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Watersheds in Louisiana to develop conservation measures such as planting vegetative cover and creating shallow water ponds to improve wildlife habitat, improving irrigation efficiency and conserving water, installing filter strips and soil erosion control practices, and enhancing stream corridor and floodplain function.NRCS has worked closely with sponsors to identify projects that are ready for immediate implementation. Projects to be funded are the Red Bayou and Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Watersheds. NRCS Louisiana State Conservationist Kevin Norton said “Louisiana’s Red Bayou project funding will reduce soil erosion and sedimentation; improve water quality in Red Bayou and its tributaries; improve fish and wildlife habitat, and increase efficiency of existing irrigation systems. The project will lead to a reduction of 6,200 tons per year of sediment delivered to water supplies.”

“Funding for the Bayou Duralde-Lower Nezpique Project will treat 33,300 acres of critically eroding cropland by installing 1,451 grade stabilization structures, 60 filter strips, 32 miles of irrigation pipeline, and 21,250 acres of irrigation land leveling in the three parishes of the watershed,” said Norton. “Nearly 45,450 tons of soil will be saved from offsite deposition which will improve water quality for 135 miles of drainage canals and 200 acres of lakes, 36,600 acre/feet of water will be saved annually which equates to a 19% reduction in the demand for groundwater, Improved wildlife habitat on 14,800 acres of bottomland hardwoods, and 15,000 acres will receive 54% less soil deposition and retain its function and values for a longer time period.”

Master Farmer Phase 2 Training

Phase II:
Since its inception over seven years ago, 2300 agricultural producers have participated in the first environmental stewardship program offered through a cooperative conservation effort among Louisiana State University Ag Center, Farm Bureau Federation, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Louisiana Cattlemen's Association, Soil & Water Conservation District's (SWCD) and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. This program was designed for producers, regardless of commodity, to learn about local and national environmental issues, such as Total Maximum Daily Loads and Nonpoint Source Pollution, and how they can address these issues on their own farms. This voluntary certification program consists of three phases:• Phase I: 8 hours of environmental lecture• Phase II: Touring a “model farm” where BMPs are installed• Phase III: Develop and implement a comprehensive conservation plan on farming operationPhase I trainings are held each spring and fall, through distance education. The training is taught from the Dean Lee Research Station in Alexandria and broadcast to several sites, including the Red River Research Station, Oak Grove, Scott Center in Winnsboro, and Crowley. Below is the summer and fall schedule for Master Farmer field days for 2009. Some of these are research station field days and NRCS tours or workshops and all of them fulfill the Phase II requirement for the program.

Please contact Donna Morgan, LSU AgCenter,
at 318-613-9278 with any questions.

2009 Louisiana Master Farmer Phase II Training Schedule
Date Site

June 16 - Stephen Logan Farm, Gilliam (row-crops)
June 17- Northeast Research Station Field Day, St. Joe (row-crops)
June 18 - Red River Research Station Field Day, Bossier (row-crops)
June 18 - Precision Ag Workshop, Donovan Taves Farm, Lake Providence (row-crops)
July 7 - Kent Lounsberry's Farm (Vermilion Parish Rice Tour), Lake Arthur (rice)
July 8 - Rougon-Jones-Rummler Farm, New Roads (sugarcane)
July 14 - Paul Hylan Farm (Pasture Walk), Athens (cattle/forages)
July 17 - Wiggers Farm, Winnsboro (row-crops)
July 22- Iberia-St.Mary-Vermillion Parish Sugarcane Tour
August 20 - Dean Lee Research Station Field Day, Alexandria (row-crops)
October 1 - Hill Farm Field Day, Homer (cattle/forages)
Fall (TBA)- Raymond Fontenot Farm, Abbeville (cattle)
Fall (TBA) - Cattle Field Day, Iberia Parish

Conservation Partnership Efforts

Conservation Partnership Efforts

Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCD) in Cooperation with the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS Pumping Plant and Irrigation System Efficiency Evaluation Unit

NRCS unit collecting data

Throughout Louisiana farmers are utilizing pumping plants and irrigation systems, but do we know just how efficient these pumps are operating on the farm? Are they saving farmers energy, fuel and expense while at the same time operating at peak performance? With the cost of fuel and energy on the rise, testing the operational efficiency of pumping plants and irrigation systems will provide recommendations for energy conservation, reduced fuel consumption and more efficient production of irrigation water.The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), in partnership with Louisiana State University Ag-Center, is now offering a new tool to landowners, which is designed to help find ways to increase efficiency of irrigation systems. NRCS Pumping Plant and Irrigation System Efficiency Evaluation Unit is a mobile unit that can be driven on site to test irrigations systems, providing producers with data to help them achieve maximum overall efficiency for water production and energy conservation.
“Louisiana State University and NRCS are working in partnership together to better serve producers across Louisiana to conserve water and energy." said NRCS State Engineer Ed Giering.A flow meter is utilized to determine the amount of fuel consumption for diesel power plants, and the electric meter is read to determine to power consumption for electric power plants. A flow meter is utilized to gauge the amount discharge from the pumping plant. These measurements are used to evaluate energy input and output of the pumping plant to determine an overall efficiency. Knowing the efficiency of the pumping plant, information can be provided to the landowner that can assist them in improving their pumping efficiency, potentially saving energy and reducing the cost per unit of irrigation water pumped. Also knowing the actual pumping rate will allow the landowner to more effectively manage the application of the irrigation water.There are numerous benefits to using the Unit.

NRCS Pumping Plant and Irrigation System Efficiency Evaluation Unit
“First, by measuring flows, producers will be provided with data showing the amount of water the pump is producing," said Giering. "Secondly, landowners will know if and how efficiently their pump is operating and lastly the Unit can be used to determine how efficiently the pump power plant (natural gas engine, electric motor, or diesel engine) is operating." “NRCS will also provide recommendations to producers regarding the speed that they should operate their drivers to ensure efficient fuel consumption," said Giering.
In most cases, the producer will receive results from NRCS at the time of the site visit, as well as, learn about steps and measure that can be taken to improve operational performance. In the future, NRCS will be able to provide customers with a print-out of the efficiency evaluation that will include annual savings on site. The Unit is already being utilized in the state and has evaluated 12 wells and two bayou pumps Southwest Louisiana and 12 wells in Northeast Louisiana.“Conserving energy and water consumption is just a taste of what NRCS is doing throughout Louisiana to help people help the land,” said Giering. “This active mobile unit is a giant step in water and energy conservation on the farm.”NRCS is now taking applications from producer who would like to have their pumping plants evaluated. If you are interested in this service you should contact your local field office. Please visit NRCS on the web to locate a field office near you at:

Staff Contact: Ed Giering, State Conservation Engineer
Phone:(318) 473-7673 FAX: (318) 473-7750

NRCS Civil Engineer Brad Sticker collecting data
NRCS Technician Shannon Walters measuring volume of fuel
NRCS Civil Engineer Mike Kennedy collecting data on water flow and volume

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Organic Initiative Offered Through the 2008 Farm Bill to Louisiana Farmers

Organic farming is one of the fastest growing segments in U.S. Agriculture. The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill) provides specific opportunities for organic producers and those transitioning to organic farming. Louisiana farmers who are transitioning to organic or who are currently certified organic can now apply to receive assistance under the Organic Initiative through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

The USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers EQIP and is now taking applications for the Organic Initiative. Under the Organic Initiative, approved applicants can receive up to $20,000 per year or $80,000 over six years.

A number of "core" organic conservation practices may be funded through the Organic Initiative, including cover crops, conservation crop rotation, prescribed grazing, pest management, nutrient management, and forage harvest management. All conservation practices offered under "general" EQIP are also available through the Organic Initiative, including but not limited to fence and watering facilities for rotational grazing, erosion control practices, irrigation management, field borders, etc.

EQIP is a voluntary conservation program reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill. It supports production agriculture and environmental quality as compatible goals. Through EQIP, eligible producers may receive financial and technical help with structural, vegetative, and management conservation practices on agricultural land and private non-industrial forestland.

Applications for EQIP are taken continuously throughout the year. However, to be considered for Fiscal Year 2009 funding under the Organic Initiative, producers need to have an application signed and returned to their local NRCS office by June 12, 2009. Applicants who are currently certified organic will need to include their organic system plan (OSP) reviewed by a USDA
accredited organic certifier when applying for financial assistance in the Organic Initiative under EQIP. Applicants who are transitioning to organic will need to submit a self-certification form to the NRCS acknowledging that agree to develop and implement conservation practices for certified organic production that are consistent with an organic system plan. The self-certification form may be obtained at time of application from any NRCS Service Center.

Some participants are eligible to receive a higher payment rate; those are limited resource farmers, beginning farmers, and socially disadvantaged groups. For more information, go to For more information in Jackson Parish visit the NRCS Ruston Field Office at 1803 Trade Drive in Ruston or contact us at (318) 255- 3136 extension 3. For more information in Winn Parish visit the NRCS Natchitoches Field Office at 6949 LA Hwy 1 Bypass in Natchitoches or contact us at (318) 357- 8366 extension 3. For more information in Caldwell Parish visit the NRCS Columbia Field Office at 7128 Hwy 165 South in Columbia or contact us at (318) 649-2651 extension 3.

You can also learn more about the NRCS and Farm Bill programs by visiting us on the Web at or by contacting the Dugdemona SWCD.