WQMP Incentive Program
The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District is offering an incentive program for producers in portions of the Recharge Lake Watershed, Beaver Creek Watershed, and qualifying municipal Wellhead Protection Areas. Practices included are cover crops, land treatment practices, and buffer/filter strips.
To get started, please complete this short form or call the office at (402) 362-6601 with any questions you might have. The application process is quick and easy to allow for the installation of conservation practices without delay. This program is funded directly by the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District and is not affiliated with any federal conservation programs. However, the program does include collaboration with local NRCS soil specialists to ensure the best results.
The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (UBBNRD) is looking for landowners, or operators, in the Recharge Lake Watershed and qualifying Municipal Wellhead Protection Areas willing to plant cover crop seed on their row crop acres. Cover crops are proven to:
- Reduce erosion from wind and water
- Increase soil organic matter content
- Capture and recycle or redistribute nutrients in the soil profile
- Promote biological nitrogen fixation and reduce energy use
- Increase biodiversity
- Suppress weeds
- Manage soil moisture
- Minimize and reduce soil compaction
- Improve yields by enhancing soil health
- Reduce use of herbicides and pesticides
- Create grazing opportunities
The UBBNRD will administer the Cover Crop Cost-Share Program in conjunction with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to plant up to 2,000 acres of cover crops annually in the Recharge Lake Watershed and qualifying Municipal Wellhead Protection Areas. Approved applications are eligible for five years of funding through this program. Interested landowners, or operators, should start their application at their respective county NRCS office, or contact John Bush of the UBBNRD, at (402) 362-6601.
A total of $100,000 is available beginning in the fall of 2021. For approved applications, the maximum cost-share rate can be up to $50/acre for the cost of seed and seeding or 100% of the actual cost, whichever is less up to $7,500 per landowner per year. Applications are approved for a five-year term. NRCS and/or other federal, state, or local funds may not be combined with this program. All seed selection and seeding must abide by NRCS Code 340 Cover Crop Criteria and Scenarios. Cover crop termination is not eligible for funding under this program.
Recharge Lake Watershed
Tracts located in a ‘Very High’ and ‘High Risk’ categories are eligible for a maximum payment of $50/acre for the first year of seeding and gradually decreases to $30/acre over the five-year period.
Municipal Wellhead Protection Areas
Tracts located in a Municipal Wellhead Protection Area where the municipality has an approved Wellhead Protection Area Plan are eligible for a maximum payment of $50/acre for the first year of seeding and gradually decreases to $30/acre over the five-year period.
- Landowners and Operators are eligible for this program.
- If approval is given to a Tenant, the District will notify the Landowner by mail that the practice was approved for planting.
- Selected applicants will secure funding for up to five years.
- Land must be located within the “Very High Risk” or “High Risk” categories within the Recharge Lake Watershed and/or within a qualifying Municipal Wellhead Protection Area.
Approved applications will be notified in writing. Once approved, the applicant must call the UBBNRD for an authorization number. Upon authorization, the applicant will have 90 days to complete the practice. After completion, final invoices must be turned in to the NRCS. The NRCS will review the practice and invoices and forward to the UBBNRD for final payment. Any purchases of seed or services made prior to authorization are not eligible for funding. Cover crop termination is not eligible for funding under this program.
The cost-share rate is 100% of actual cost of seed and seeding up to the maximum scheduled rate over the 5 years of the program.
- 1st year - $50/acre
- 2nd year - $50/acre
- 3rd year - $40/acre
- 4th year - $30/acre
- 5th year - $30/acre
The landowner/operator will be reimbursed for 100% of the actual seed and seeding costs or at the program annual rate, whichever is less. The maximum cost-share is $7,500.00 per landowner/operator per year. NRCS and/or other federal, state, or local funds may not be combined with this program. Seed selection and planting rates must abide by the NRCS Code 340 Cover Crop for planting rate, planting date, and termination (termination costs are not covered under this program). Seeding may be completed by drilling, aerial, or broadcast application.
If the landowner/operator discontinues the program prior to completing all five years, the landowner/operator must reimburse the UBBNRD 50% of all previous payments made to the landowner/operator through the program.
Participation in this cover crop cost-share program will not affect the landowner’s/operator’s ability to participate in the UBBNRD’s Land Treatment Program.
The UBBNRD reserves the right to re-allocate program acres/funds between the Recharge Lake Watershed and the Municipal Wellhead Protection Areas in order to best utilize available funding.
The Nebraska Buffer Strip Program offers financial assistance for landowners that install filter strips (narrow strips of grass) or riparian forest buffer strips (strips containing trees and grass).
These strips are placed next to seasonal or permanent streams, wetlands, and ponds. These practices provide protection between cropland and waterbodies by helping to stabilize the environment and filter agrichemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides.
Contracts run from 5 to 10 years. State program payments vary from $20 to $250 per acre, depending on soil type, whether the acres are irrigated or not, and whether payments are received from other programs. In addition, there are incidental haying and grazing allowances through the program.
The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District (UBBNRD) completed a Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) and selected the Recharge Lake Watershed and the Beaver Creek Watershed as the initial target areas for implementing water quality measures.
Through the UBBNRD’s WQMP Implementation Program, the UBBNRD is offering an additional incentive payment for filter and buffer strips within the Recharge Lake Watershed and the Beaver Creek Watershed.
Applicants will apply through the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) under the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program.
- Only landowners are eligible for the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program.
- Lands located within the Recharge Lake watershed and/or the Beaver Creek watershed are eligible for the UBBNRD incentive program.
- Landowner must meet all requirements and be approved under the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program.
- Only new or renewed buffer strip projects are eligible for the incentive program.
In addition to the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program payment, the landowner will receive an UBBNRD incentive payment set at 50% of the Nebraska Buffer Strip Program payment for the life of the contract (5 to 10 years).
If the buffer strip is removed before the expiration of the contract, the landowner must return all previous incentive payments to the NRD.