Ducks Unlimited, partners receive soil health grant

Emily Beal
Forum News Service

Ducks Unlimited and partners have been awarded an $8.73 million grant in an effort to develop an agriculture producer focused program where they will concentrate on soil health within the prairie pothole region.

“We’ve been pretty excited about soil health and helping landowners and producers implement some new practices to help better their farm or ranch’s soil,” said Bruce Toay, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited.

The program will bring financial assistance to agriculture producers. The money they receive will be used to help them implement practices into their farm or ranch that help with their farm or ranch’s overall soil health.

“Financial assistance will be given to agriculture producers to implement practices that build soil health, improve profitability, create diversity and wildlife habitats,” Toay said.

Some of these practices include planting more perennial species on their land, cutting back in the practice of tilling, incorporating cover crops, integrating livestock on the land and much more.

The new ag producers will be partnered up with other agriculture producers who are already following this model, the goal being to help the new producer understand and excel in this new endeavor.

While overall yield is still important when implementing these practices, the program is more focused on the producer’s profit margins.

“This program is not necessarily a yield-driven model, but a profit model by reducing your input costs. If your soil health is going up, then your needs for fertilizer and herbicides will be going down. Eventually you’re making more money and we will be analyzing how the overall profit margin changes for the producer,” Toay said.

Ducks Unlimited has also partnered up with the Soil Health Institute who will be working closely with producers to collect data from their farms and ranches. The Institute will take a look at how the soil health changes while the producers are involved in the program and see how their soil improves.

The program is in the beginning stages of development and is estimated to be open to producers in the early months of 2021. Toay hopes the program will grow and flourish in the years to come.

“I am really hoping the success of this program will lead to more similar grants in the future. We want this program to be both beneficial to both agriculture producers and the prairie pothole region,” Toay said.

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