There’s no question that CRP is a long-term commitment, with contracts lasting 10-15 years. This timeframe is necessary for the restorative measures of CRP to take effect. Still, as far out as it might seem, there will come a day when your CRP contract reaches its end.
The question at this point becomes what will you do now?
To continue generating profit from the land, most people have two choices: they can convert the land back to crop production, or they can reenroll it in CRP.
There are a lot of factors to consider when making this decision: soil condition, market prices, CRP enrollment availability, environmental impact, and more. It’s also important to understand the process of returning to CRP land to crop production. Even if you believe you can make more money from crop production than CRP enrollment, it will take some time and effort to get the land up and running again.
Resuming Crop Growth After CRP
Reverting CRP land back to crops requires significant upfront work before you can start planting. Unlike converting land to CRP, there are no cost-share programs available for returning CRP land to crop production. The extra cost falls to the landowner.
The first thing you’ll need to do is clear the field. All of the native vegetation will need to be removed. Weeds will likely be a problem as well. Once the field has been cleared, you may need to even it out, as CRP can result in land that’s bumpier than the typical farm field.
While the soil should be in a much healthier state than it was before CRP, it’ll likely be low on nitrogen. Other nutrients may need to be added too. When preparing the soil, you should try to avoid tillage if possible. Tillage can be very damaging to soil, and it could quickly undo any positive impact CRP had on the land.
Even after all of this has been done, the land will likely underperform for the first year or two. The soil simply isn’t used to crop production. There is also the risk that the land will return to its previous marginal state.
Speaking of, it’s worth considering the environmental impact of returning land to crop production. Removing the native vegetation from the land not only leaves soil exposed, but it destroys wildlife habitat. Many local species such as deer and pheasant utilize CRP land for food, habitat, and more.
Also, disturbing CRP can result in excess carbon being released into the air. CRP is highly effective at sequestering carbon but only if it remains in place.
Because of the risks, as well as potential negative side effects, many landowners try to keep at least a portion of their land enrolled in CRP. Alternatively, they may enroll another area of their land instead. Before you decide to return CRP land to crop production, you should speak with your local FSA office.
Reenrolling Land in CRP
Reenrolling in CRP comes with its own requirements and opportunities. We’ll discuss these further in our next post. In the meantime, if you’re looking to begin a new CRP contract, FDCE can help.
At FDCE, our team has 360,000 acres worth of CRP experience across the US. Our full-service CRP solutions make it incredibly simple for you to successfully establish CRP on your land. Once we become involved, we essentially handle the entire process for you.
This includes CRP seed purchasing, planting, herbicide application, documentation, and reporting submission to FSA. With FDCE, you can greatly increase your chances of success while maximizing your cost share reimbursement, all with little-to-no effort on your end.
Contact us today to learn more.