The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages commercial horticulture producers (including greenhouse growers, in-ground nurseries and sod producers) to implement conservation programs on their agricultural lands. Cost-share and incentive funds are available but the sign-up deadline for the upcoming year is October 31st 2011.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) is a voluntary conservation program that promotes environmental quality in agricultural production. EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to participants to install or implement structural and management practices on agricultural land. EQIP offers 2 to 10 year contracts that provide financial assistance to implement conservation practices.
Incentive payments are being offered to permanent tree and bush crops (e.g. blueberry, grape), sod, and nursery crops for Irrigation Water Management. If you have irrigated a minimum of two of the last five years, you irrigate for a minimum of 9 out of 12 months, and you are willing to install soil moisture monitoring devices and keep records then you could earn up to $16 per acre per year. In greenhouses, conversion to ebb and flow irrigation systems and capillary mats can be cost shared. Irrigation Storage Reservoirs bring $3,693/acre-foot. A special practice called Seasonal High Tunnels is also available under the EQIP program.
Other programs that may fit a few individuals are: Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP); Wetland Reserve Program (WRP); and the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP). Each program has specific qualifications and rules.
The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is a program that encourages agricultural producers to maintain existing best management conservation activities and adopt additional enhancements on their operations. If you are accepted into the nationally competitive program you may receive base payments of up to $15 per acre for up to 5 years.