Producers in 16 southern Iowa counties may be eligible for conservation compliance variances this spring to allow for limited tillage in corn stalks and soybean stubble.

The variance will be offered in the following counties: Decatur, Lucas, Ringgold, Wayne, Appanoose, Davis, Van Buren, Lee, Des Moines, Henry, Jefferson, Wapello, Monroe, Mahaska, Keokuk and Washington.

“Because of some of the rainfall events of 2010, some no-tilled fields may have developed some small rills across the slope,” said John Myers, state resource conservationist. “This variance allows farmers the opportunity to smooth out those areas without penalty. Producers are encouraged to leave the maximum amount of residue possible if they perform any spot tillage.”

If limited tillage is needed to facilitate planting in these areas with excessive erosion, producers should request a variance from their local USDA Natural ResourcesConservation Service  office before completing any tillage. After receiving a request, NRCS staff may complete a field review.

“It is important to note this variance is not blanket coverage allowing producers to do tillage,” said Myers. “It applies where the producer has used no-till planting methods as specified in their conservation compliance plan and on areas where permanent practices to control ephemeral gully erosion would normally not be needed.”

NRCS is also offering a variance to allow producers to deviate from the residue requirements listed for mulch tillage where additional tillage is needed for re-plantingpurposes or to level areas where rill erosion or ephemeral gully erosion occurred. It only applies were mulch tillage is specified in the conservation compliance plan.

If a producer’s compliance plan called for establishing perennial forages, the variance will allow a Deviation from the planned rotation when perennial forages has failed. This will allow producers to plant a row crop in 2011, and prepare for the establishment of the forage in 2012.

Conservation compliance variances will not be granted on tracts were permanent practices, like grassed waterways, field borders, critical area seeding and water and sediment control basins, needed to control ephemeral gully erosion, were not in place. NRCS will not grant a variance for fields that were tilled prior to the heavy rains, and the conservation compliance plan specifies a no-till planting system.

If you have questions on your conservation plans or would like to do a review,contact your local field office staff to schedule an appointment.  This is a good time to complete conservation plan follow-up visits to review the plan and make any revisions that are needed, said Myers.

This Week's Circulars