TAKE PART IN AN INNOVATIVE
ON-FARM RESEARCH TRIAL
North Jersey RC&D is inviting farmers in northern New Jersey to participate in a two-year on-farm trial of innovative cover crop management strategies. Farmers enrolled in the project will try one of the following practices on a portion of their land: (1) planting into green cover crop, (2) roller-crimping cover crop to kill it, or (3) grazing cover crops. As the study progresses, farmers will record what they did and what was the impact on cash crops; meanwhile, the staff at North Jersey RC&D will collect soil samples to assess the effect the practices had on soil health.
Farmers will commit to two years of these strategies (2021 and 2022). As compensation for trying and evaluating these conservation approaches, farmers will receive technical assistance and compensation through North Jersey RC&D. Compensation will include a $1,000 annual stipend for time/labor recording economic and agronomic practices and annual per-acre-payments for every acre enrolled in the study. The grant also provides farmers with an equipment budget, to purchase the equipment and supplies they need to be successful, including high-end planter attachments, roller crimpers, as well as fence supplies for grazing.
These strategies maximize soil cover, biodiversity, and the presence of living roots in annual crop systems, ultimately increasing the agronomic and economic value of cover crop to agricultural producers.
This opportunity is open to farmers with previous experience using cover crops, who are located in Warren, Hunterdon, Sussex, Somerset and Morris counties. We are seeking to conduct research on a wide diversity of farms from small vegetable to large grain operations under both organic and conventional management.
This work is supported by the Conservation Innovation Grants program at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. The project is funded through the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), a new component of 2018 Farm Bill. We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity to experiment with some advanced soil health practices. New Jersey farmers haven’t had access to conservation innovation funding at this scale in over 20 years – so don’t miss out.
JOIN A SHORT WEBINAR
Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
more about the
Farms in northern New Jersey (Warren, Hunterdon,
Sussex, Somerset, and Morris counties)
WHO IS ELIGIBLE:
Any farmer with at least one year of experience using cover crops. The project is open to all farms -- big and small --- under conventional and organic management growing grains, beans, and other summer annuals including silage corn, vegetables, fruits, and herbs.
Participants will work with NJRCD staff to purchase equipment during 2020. Participants will additionally need to attend one workshop or webinar outlining study expectations and providing guidance. Participants will implement innovative cover crop management strategies during the spring of 2021 and 2022.
Participants will commit to trying an innovative cover crop management strategies on fields or parts of fields. Strategies examined in this study include:
Grazing Cover Crops
Compensation for twice-annual on-farm meetings, and time/labor recording economic and agronomic practices. Farmers will receive annual stipends after submitting completed worksheets detailing economic and agronomic practices.
Payment Rate: $1,000 annually after cover crop termination is complete and worksheet submissions are up-to-date
Participants are eligible to receive financial assistance toward equipment and supplies (retrofits and purchases) for
temporary and/or permanent fence equipment and supplies
frame-mounted or pull-behind roller crimpers
no-till planter retrofits including specialized coulters, disc levelers, residue cleaners, closing wheels, and hydraulic downforce systems.
Payment Rate: $Up to $20,000 reimbursement per participant. The payment rate will vary between participants based on practice implemented, existing equipment on hand, and acreage enrolled. Most participants can expect to receive between $8,000 and $15,000 in equipment incentives.
Participants will receive payment for every acre enrolled in the study.
Payment Rate: $35.00 per acre for grains, beans, and forage crops and $300.00 per acre for summer annual vegetable/fruit crops)
FREE SOIL TESTS
Land enrolled in the study will receive a comprehensive soil health analysis each year.
FREE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
On-farm trial participants who have additional questions or concerns are eligible to receive free 1:1 consultation with NJRCD Agricultural Specialists or other consultants on the project.
frequently asked questions
Who is North Jersey RC&D?
North Jersey Resource Conservation and Development is a non-profit dedicated to fostering agricultural sustainability. North Jersey RC&D works throughout Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Morris, Somerset & Union counties. Visit our website, www.northjerseyrcd.org, to learn more about our programs, initiatives, and events.
How is the project funded?
The funding is provided through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) inaugural On-Farm Conservation Innovation grant – a new feature of the 2018 Farm Bill. Through this grant, North Jersey RC&D received over $560,000 for farmer incentives payments!
What is the purpose of the project?
This project aims to evaluate and encourage spring cover crop management strategies that confer the greatest soil health benefit. The project will use a combination of soil samples, field assessments, farm data, and farmer interviews to (1) evaluate the environmental, economic, and social impacts of these of innovative cover crop management practices and (2) document implementation methods that are most successful, providing local examples to other farmers.
When does it start?
Participants will be selected by August 2020. During fall of 2020, farmers enrolled in the program will work with North Jersey RC&D staff to prepare for the project by either (1) selecting, purchasing, and installing upgrades to planters and/or sprayers (2) selecting and purchasing roller crimper units or (3) contracting to install necessary grazing equipment. In addition, farmers enrolled in the programs will consult with North Jersey RC&D to select fields for inclusion in the trial and receive instruction regarding documentation requirements. The on-farm trial will formally begin spring of 2021.
How long does it last?
Two years. Farmers will need to commit to their chosen alternative cover crop management practices during the spring of 2021 and 2022.
How are the participants chosen? What the requirements to participate?
We are looking to enroll 25 northern New Jersey farmers in the on-farm trial. We are looking to get a mixture of commodity crop farmers and vegetable producers – both organic and conventional. The only requirements for inclusion in the program are that participants (1) have experience with cover crop, and (2) be NRCS EQIP eligible (Of note, the Adjusted Gross Income requirement can be waived for this program).
Farmers will be evaluated on experience using cover crop, acreage being enrolled and if they meet the definition of a historically underserved producer. Farmers will be selected with consideration given to location and termination method selected.
What if I already plant green or graze cover crop? Can I still participate?
Yes! If you are already implementing these innovative practices, you can still participate and will be eligible for all the same funding opportunities.
How much paperwork is involved?
At the start of the trial, each participant will be provided with a binder filled with short forms. Farmers will be asked to record things like planting population, fertilizer and herbicide inputs and rates, yields, etc. We anticipate the paperwork taking about 4-6 hours a year.
How much land can I enroll? Do I need to do the practice over my entire farm?
Farmers can enroll up to half their farm in the study, up to 100 acres. This will be the area that undergoes the innovative management, known as the treatment plot. Payment per acre is on acres in the treatment plot.
Each farm will need to have a treatment plot and a control plot. The treatment plot will receive the innovative management strategy while the control plot will be terminated in the method you are accustomed to.
Will I have to plant a specific cover crop mix? And what if I don’t have a drill?
No specific mix or application method is required. Farmers can plant any cover crop they would like, using any cover crop application method they have available.
Can I experiment with more than one practice?
Yes. Farmers can sign up to try more than one innovative cover crop management strategy. For example, a farmer could graze cover crop near the barn and roller-crimp cover crop in another area of the farm; farmers participating in multiple practices are eligible for multiple equipment incentive payments.
Can I pick the equipment I want as part of the “Equipment Incentive”?
Every participant will be assigned an “equipment inventive budget”. Farmers can select any equipment within the budget that will increase their likelihood of success in implementing the practice. The chart below lists examples of equipment participants can receive through the equipment incentive; participants may also request other equipment.
How much money do I get to spend on new equipment and/or fence?
Most farmers can expect to receive between $10,000 and $14,000 for equipment upgrades, roller crimpers and/or fence installation. The exact amount will depend on applications received, producer need, number of acres enrolled and type of innovative management selected.
What if I want something to purchase equipment that is more than the amount I was budged through the “Equipment Incentive”?
Farmers interested in purchasing equipment whose cost exceeds the “Equipment Incentive” budget can still do so, as long as they agree to pay the difference.
Do I get to keep the equipment after the study the done?
Yes. Any equipment purchased is yours to use until completion of the grant. At the completion of the two-year trial, farmers may request to retain equipment purchased for the trial.
What if I need help?
Participants will have access to free 1:1 consultation with NJRCD Agricultural Specialists, crop consultants from Rosetree Consulting, or Penn State Agricultural Extension agent, Heidi Reed, who specializes in planting green.
If I don’t sign up this year, can I sign up next year?
No, this is a one-time opportunity and the only time to sign-up. This is the first time in over 20 years New Jersey farmers have had access to conservation innovation funding at this scale and scope. We encourage you to take advantage of this unique opportunity.
Can I apply if I have previously enrolled in EQIP or the aerial seeding cover crop program?
Yes, in fact we welcome farmers experienced with cover crop. The two programs are unrelated. This is a program run by North Jersey RC&D with funding from the Conservation Innovation Grants program at USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
DO YOU HAVE MORE QUESTIONS?
Join a short Zoom Webinar on
Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Contact Bridgett Hilshey at or