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Jim Andrew believes that his long-term no-tilling on 1,275 acres of corn and soybeans near Jefferson, Iowa, qualifies him for at least $23,000 of his annual $45,000 annual Conservation Security Program Tier III payments under the 2002 farm bill.
“This is probably what you’re all interested in, how to get $45,000 a year,” he tells no-tillers. “We received a stewardship payment of $14.35 an acre, which came to $13,500. For no-till alone, we received $15,284. End-of-season enhancement of soil conditions amounted to more than $7,000. Minimum use of pesticides with resistant varieties (Bt corn) paid $2,000. Elimination of fall anhydrous applications paid $2,000.”
He adds, “The fact that we’re in a solid soybean and corn rotation causes us to reduce the amount of nitrogen that we have to put on, and that paid us $1,000 a year. An existing practices payment amounted to $3,300 a year. I think that was probably orientated toward the terraces that we had in place.”
He officially applied for the CSP program in March 2005, when the North Raccoon River Watershed in which he farms became eligible. He notes that every state has a Conservation Security Program watershed in it, and no-tillers have a leg up on conventional tillage farmers for earning payments.
Andrew also says no-tillers in watersheds that have not yet become eligible might be rewarded for their patience. Growers in the 18 watersheds chosen for the first year of CSP were “guinea pigs,” he says. “Those poor guys…