Attention Livestock owners Hay producers Landowners and Sportsmen

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 | 01:00 am

Agricultural producers interested in hay production, livestock grazing, and/or wildlife habitat have a great opportunity in Tennessee under the USDA’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Approximately $500,000 has been set aside in a state EQIP fund for landowners interested in establishing native grasses for hay, pasture or field buffers. Producers are eligible for cost-share to establish native grasses and a $75/acre management incentive payment for the first two years of the contract to compensate for forage loss during establishment. In addition, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) is also providing a $55 per acre (one-time) incentive payment for installing and managing these native grass practices.

Native Warm Season Grasses provide excellent hay and forage and, when properly managed, can provide great wildlife habitat, especially for ground nesting birds like bobwhite quail. These grasses are attractive for producers because the majority of the growth occurs in the early summer when optimum hay drying conditions occur and when forages such as fescue and orchard grass produce very little hay. Yields of 2-5 tons per acre of native grasses are common after the second year. Interested landowners should go to your local NRCS office to determine if they are eligible and apply for the 2007 Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The application deadline date is December 15, 2006. Visit your local NRCS office or the Tennessee NRCS home page at http://www.tn.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/index.html for more information. For a free “Landowner’s Guide to Native Warm Season Grasses, contact your county UT Extension office, or Mark Gudlin, TWRA, at 615-781-6614 or Mark.Gudlin@state.tn.us.