The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Minnesota is offering a special Environmental Quality Incentive Program sign-up for farmers who couldn’t plant their crops because of flooded or wet fields. The deadline for sign-up is Friday, July 12.

This EQIP sign-up is an opportunity for farmers to plant a cover crop, which they could later cut for hay or graze. It provides an alternative to letting fields go fallow and uncovered. Landowners should coordinate with other USDA farm agencies when participating in related programs.

The goal of the program is to encourage farmers to plant cover crops to increase water quality, suppress weeds, and improve soil health on areas not planted to crops. Cover crops also bring soil vitality by adding nutrients and organic matter. Many fields that are saturated for a long time face a loss of soil organisms. Cover crop roots reestablish soil health and create pathways for air and water to move through the soil, which is key to restoring it.

For more information or to apply for this special EQIP, contact your The Rice County office, 1810 30th St., Suite 1, Faribault or at 507-334-1887. The deadline for sign-up is Friday, July 12. Applications will be ranked based on environmental benefits.

Reach Regional Managing Editor Suzanne Rook at 507-333-3134. Follow her on Twitter @rooksuzy

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