• Charlene Sims, Journal staff

Conservationist discuss programs for landowners

Updated: Feb 3

MOUND CITY – Ryan Ferguson, district conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Linn County, met with the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Jan. 10 to talk about NRCS and to introduce Alex Cattani, the new natural resource specialist who started in November.

Ferguson, who has been at the NRCS office since July, told the commissioners that he

has been learning a lot about the county, its conservation needs, and the projects that the county has had in the past.

“I’m looking forward to building on what we have got started,” said Ferguson.

Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked Ferguson if this was his first job. Ferguson said that he had worked for NRCS in Wyoming and South Dakota. However, he said he grew up in Lenexa and went to Kansas State University.

Commissioner Rick James asked Ferguson to quickly explain for people that aren’t in the farming business what NRCS does.

Ferguson said that NRCS provides conservation technical assistance to landowners, farmers, ranchers, and anybody that has conservation needs on their property. Through that NRCS administers a handful of programs that are administered through the Farm Bill.

NRCS is an agency within the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). These various programs like Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) provide a wealth of resources to our customers with some cost share incentives to help them implement conservation minded farming practices, grazing practices, wildlife-type practices.

At the NRCS office, customers come in who want to address soil erosion or water quality issues, grassland health, and we help identify those with them and help provide a conservation plan that hopefully will address those and improve landowners’ natural resources in the long run, he said.

Ferguson said other common practices that he has seen here in the county are terraces and waterway projects to help control soil erosion, brush management and brush clearing to restore pastures, and infrastructure upgrades to set up rotational grazing systems. Those have been some of the more prevalent practices, but NRCS is always looking for things to help its customers out on.

When Johnson asked Ferguson if there was money available for pond building, he told the commissioners that the application deadline for EQUI and CSP projects in 2022 was in November, but they were still taking applications and making field visits on customers for the next fiscal year sign up.

The NRCS staff is are always available to come out and help landowners get a game plan going, said Ferguson. Usually it is good to do that several months in advance for potential cost-share applications. He encourage anybody that is interested to call or stop by the office sometime and to get them set up with something.

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