Establishing CRP: What You Need to Know

For 35 years, CRP has helped farmers and landowners earn money on marginal land while protecting against erosion, water quality, loss of wildlife habitat, and more. With the new administration’s increased focus on conservation and the recently announced enhancements for the Conservation Reserve Program, now is the perfect time to join the program. The question is… 

How do you enroll in CRP? 

Though the program can prove very rewarding, it can also be equally confusing for those who aren’t familiar with it. If you’re looking to join CRP in 2021, here’s what you should know. 

Eligibility and Enrollment 

There are a number of conservation program options available within CRP. These typically belong under one of two divisions: general CRP and Continuous CRP.

Enrollment for general CRP operates under a bidding system. Interested parties submit a proposal that’s scored based on the Environmental Benefits Index (EBI). The higher your score, the more likely you are to be accepted. 

CCRP, on the other hand, does not use a bidding system. If you meet the necessary qualifications for the practice you have chosen, you are automatically accepted into the program.  

Regardless of which tract you choose, there are general rules for eligibility. First and foremost, enrollment must be open, and land must be available. Enrollment for both general CRP and CCRP is currently open across the US. Land eligibility depends on what state you live in. 

The land you plan to enroll in CRP must be marginal, highly erodible, and/or ecologically significant in some way. Generally, you must have owned it for at least one year, though there are exceptions to this. and it must have been planted at least 4 out of the last 6 years.  

For more information on enrolling in CRP, check out our previous post here. 

Buying the Right Seed 

Once you’ve successfully enrolled in CRP, you’ll need to buy CRP seed mix that fits under the conservation practice you’ve chosen. CRP seed must state and practice requirements. If you’re looking to buy high quality CRP seed, make sure to visit our sister company’s website here. All Native Seed mixes feature the highest purity and germination rates available.  

Land Preparation 

Land preparation is a critical part of CRP. If land isn’t properly prepared, weeds can thrive, old crops can resurface, and CRP seed can fail to establish. The process for preparing land for CRP can look a little different depending on what practice you’re enrolled in and what the current condition of the land. There will almost certainly be herbicide application and mowing involved. A burn plan may also be implemented. 

Using the Right Tools 

CRP seed is generally a different shape and size than traditional crop seed. Additionally, it’s typically established with no-till methods. This means traditional farming equipment can’t be used to plant it. If you try to use your normal machinery, it will likely become clogged up.  

Even with the right equipment, it’s important that it’s calibrated properly. Otherwise, it may plant the seed too deep and/or at the wrong rate.  

Creating an Herbicide Plan  

Though proper land preparation greatly helps reduce the presence of weeds, it’s not enough. Once you’ve planted your CRP seed, weed control is still needed. This is where an herbicide plan comes into play. This will likely use spot treatments in conjunction with continued mowing. 

Herbicide plans are unique to the land where they’re being used, as they’re designed to target specific weeds. 

Simplifying the Process  

As we said before, joining CRP and establishing native vegetation can be a complex process. This is where we can help. FDCE offers full-service CRP solutions that largely take care of the grunt work for you. Our team of CRP experts handle seed selection, planting, herbicide application, documentation, and report submission for cost-share reimbursement.  

Many first-time CRP participants are surprised to discover that the cost-share reporting is actually one of the most difficult parts of the process. With FDCE by your side, you won’t have to worry about it. We can help you get your reimbursement at a faster rate. 

Whether you’re establishing pollinator habitat or native grasses and forbs, we have the tools and experience you need. Contact us today to get started.