LITTLE ROCK – Farmers and landowners in Arkansas have through the end of next week to apply for federal assistance to monitor edge of field water quality on agricultural lands in targeted watersheds throughout the state.

Applicants can sign up until Nov. 8 at a local U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service field service center.

USDA officials said producers can use data from water quality monitoring and evaluation to measure the effectiveness of conservation practices and systems such as nutrient management, cover crop and irrigation water management.

Evaluation of conservation practice effectiveness through edge of field monitoring can promote better understanding of nutrient and sediment loading, and will assist NRCS and participants in adapting or validating the application of conservation measures, the agency said.

"These edge of field monitoring projects will support the great work Arkansas producers, working along with our conservation partners, are doing putting conservation on the ground to improve water quality, maintain productivity and enhance wildlife habitat," Arkansas State Conservationist Mike Sullivan said in a news release.

Funding for the projects comes from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for monitoring projects in 12-digit priority watersheds which have been targeted for funding.

Sullivan said the funding would help producers implement monitoring in 16 Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative (MRBI) project areas:

-Bayou Boeuf in portions of Ashley and Chicot counties in southeastern Arkansas.

-Bayou Meto (middle) in portions of Arkansas, Jefferson, Lonoke and Prairie counties.

-East Arkansas Enterprise Community, L’Anguille River in Cross and St. Francis counties.

-Lower Arkansas (upper) in portions of Jefferson, Lonoke and Pulaski counties.

-L’Anguille in portions of Poinsett and Cross Counties.

-Grand Prairie in portions of Arkansas, Lonoke, Prairie and Monroe counties.

-Big Watershed in a portion of Phillips County.

-Bayou Meto (Arkansas County) in portions of Arkansas, Jefferson and Lonoke counties.

-Little River Ditches in portions of Craighead, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties.

-Wapanocca in a portion of Crittenden County.

-Tyronza River in portions of Mississippi and Poinsett counties.

-Point Remove in portions of Conway, Pope, Van Buren and Yell counties.

-Middle Cache in portions of Craighead, Jackson, Poinsett and Woodruff counties.

-Middle Bayou Macon in portions of Chicot and Desha counties.

-Lower St. Francis 2010 in portions of Cross, Crittenden, Mississippi, and Poinsett counties.

-Lower Bayou Macon in portions of Chicot County.

Officials said landowners will work closely with one or more monitoring partners, including the USDA Agricultural Research Service, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Arkansas State University. These groups will assist NRCS with monitoring activities within their respective watershed once landowners are approved and equipment has been installed.


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