LYONS, Neb. — The sign-up period for farmers and ranchers interested in enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is open. In South Dakota, the deadline to submit initial paperwork is March 26.

“For farmers and ranchers who are already incorporating conservation in their operations, CSP is a great opportunity to add additional practices,” said Kate Hansen, policy assistant for the Center for Rural Affairs.

Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CSP is one of the leading programs providing financial and technical assistance for producers to maintain agricultural production on their land, and simultaneously address resource concerns with conservation practices.

“I would encourage operators to strongly consider CSP, especially if they are either practicing a lot of good conservation measures, or if they’re willing to try something new,” said Madison farmer Charlie Johnson.

In 2019, there were more than 600,000 acres actively enrolled in South Dakota. Top practices include cover crops, integrated pest management, nutrient management, and herbaceous weed control.

When applying for a CSP contract, producers develop a conservation plan with their local NRCS staff, which can include an assortment of practices and enhancements to benefit a wide array of natural resources, such as water quality and soil health.

Farmers interested in applying should call their local NRCS office to set up an appointment.

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