"EQIP" Helps Farms and the Environment

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This year's drought has left more and more farmers seeking ways to re-cultivate their pastures.

Not only that, but many ponds have dried up, leaving water sources to a minimum.

We took a look at the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, or "EQIP," that helps farmers help the environment.

Milton Milam owns nearly 400-acres of farmland in Warren County and leases another 150-acres.

This year, he wanted to try something different--to have more head of cattle on the same acreage of land.

"We wanted to do some things to help the environment also," Milam explained.

In order to do that, he needed more water sources and to keep the water he did have clean.

"The main issue we had was needing water in different areas of the farm," Milam said.

Milam enlisted the help of the federal EQIP program, which offers farmers incentives to help conserve natural resources.

"If you have four more fields and you want to make that make efficient, it's hard to put water in every field because of the cost," explained Jeremy Atkinson, a Warren County conservation officer.

EQIP fenced off Milam's ponds and put in watering facilities.

"We're doing some soil-testing and seeding and rotating the cattle around," Milam said.

Rotational grazing keeps cattle from ruining the pastures by moving them to other fields to graze every week or so.

"We've had more calls about pasture renovation and watering facilities than we ever had," Atkinson assured.

That's because of this year's drought, which has put stress on livestock, pastures and water sources.

"We're really lucky that we picked this year to do it because of the drought--the normal ponds that we have here are all dry but two," Milam said.

"Usually when we fix those natural resources it also makes the farm more efficient and they benefit from it too," Atkinson added.

Atkinson said many of the EQIP and cost-share services benefit soil quality and cut down on erosion.

It's important to note the deadline to sign up for the federal EQIP or state cost-share programs was moved up this year.

It is now October 31.

Contact your County Conservation Office for more information.

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