Even for the seasoned farmer, establishing CRP for the first time can prove to be tricky. The types of seed and equipment used in CRP are different from traditional crop seed and farming equipment. The end goal is different as well. Rather than planting farm crops that you’ll be harvesting in a few months, you’re establishing native perennial (and biennial) vegetation that will remain in place for at least 10-15 years.
And because CRP is a government funded program with a very specific purpose, it comes with a number of rules, requirements, and restrictions that first-time contract holders can find themselves unprepared for. This can lead to numerous errors that can greatly hinder your chances of successful establishment.
If you’re new to CRP, here are a few common mistakes you will want to avoid.
Failure to Control Weeds
Much of modern farming relies on some degree of tillage. CRP, on the other hand, typically utilizes no-till planting. While this is better for the soil, it also means you’ll be dealing with more weeds. Failing to properly control weeds will have a serious negative impact on the establishment of your CRP establishment.
Weeds take up precious soil space and compete for both sun and water with your germinating CRP seeds.
In order to control weeds, you’ll need to properly prepare your CRP land. For existing CRP contracts that require a reseeding, this includes mowing and strategic herbicide application. After the CRP seed has been planted, further mowing and herbicide spraying will be needed, especially in the first 2-3 years.
Once the native vegetation has successfully established, occasional spot mowing and spraying should suffice.
CRP requires specific equipment that has been calibrated to properly seed your project’s seed mix and take into account field conditions, seed type, local weather, and more. Utilizing the wrong equipment or settings can result in your seed being planted incorrectly.
In addition to soil rental payments, CRP enrollees receive cost-share reimbursement to cover the cost of conversion and establishment. In order to receive your reimbursement, however, you will need to properly document your expenses and purchases and submit your final paperwork to FSA.
This has proven to be one of the most challenging parts of CRP for contract holders.
CRP has very specific guidelines for how CRP costs are documented. Everything must be categorized and itemized into separate components. Some of these components rely on percentages for cost-share. Others operate under a flat rate. Additionally, each component is capped under a Not-to-Exceed amount (NTE).
While failing to properly document everything won’t affect the success of your establishment, it will affect how much you receive for cost-share reimbursement, as well as when you receive it. If your paperwork is incorrect, FSA will require you to redo it.
Purchasing Low Quality Seed
When it comes to establishing CRP, one of the gravest mistakes you can make is to purchase low-quality seed. Even with favorable conditions and proper planting, bad seed will likely result in poor establishment. In fact, your CRP project may fail altogether, resulting in a serious loss of time and money.
That is why it is very important that you purchase CRP seed from an experienced CRP seed company.
The team at All Native Seed has been working in the industry since 2003, perfecting our seed mixes as we learn what works and what doesn’t. Our seed offers the highest purity and germination rates available. It also comes with the required seed tags and documentation, making the paperwork portion of CRP a little easier.
Of course, even with the best seed, you’ll still need to follow proper establishment protocols. Because of this, many CRP contract holders utilize our parent company’s services to establish CRP for them. If you’d to learn more about FDCE’s turn-key CRP solutions, click here.
Otherwise, you can browse our CRP seed offerings here. If you’re looking to buy seed for an NRCS-developed mix, click here. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at 888-224-2004 or email@example.com.