Conservation Planning & Other Technical Assistance
Assisting staff from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to provide conservation planning services has always been a focus of work at the Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Additional training and expertise obtained by SWCD staff have made this assistance even more valuable. Through this team approach, the SWCDs were able to promote conservation practices and ensure good water quality in concert with NRCS. Some Districts have special relationships with NRCS. For example, Homer SWCD contracts with NRCS to keep files updated, create maps and provide other assistance with NRCS’s EQIP and WHIP programs.
Soil, Forage, & Other Testing
Nutrient management requires adequate information to avoid applying too little or too much fertilizer. SWCDs help gather and submit soil and forage sample for testing, and often help provide recommendations based on the information that is obtained from the testing laboratory. This aids not only farmers but also other landowners. Benefits include more productive soil and increased yields. Districts typically provide a cost-share for their cooperators. Some of this information is required for participation in NRCS programs. Additional testing programs include manure and compost testing. Participating District include Wasilla, Kenai, Fairbanks, Kenny Lake, Palmer, Homer and Anchorage.
Equipment Rental & Loan
Conservation tillage and other conservation practices require specialized equipment. To promote conservation practices and agriculture, some SWCDs have equipment for loan or rent at low cost to cooperators. This equiment includes Brillion seeders, a rotor-tiller, calumet spreader, Meri Crusher, vegetable planter, root stripper, trail pump, field and pasture renovators and sprayers. Participating Districts include Salcha-Delta, Kenai, Palmer, Fairbanks, Homer, and Wasilla.
Small Project Conservation Cost-Sharing
Another way to promote conservation practices is by providing cost-sharing funds for small projects. These have included projects involving grazing management, soil moisture monitoring, weed control, and soil health. Participating Districts include Palmer, Fairbanks and Salcha-Delta. The successful program insures its continuation as long as funding is available.
Development of Agriculture Lands
Progress continues to be made at the Tonsina North Agriculture Land Project in the Kenny Lake SWCD, where new farms are being established and the District is recruiting cooperators for conservation practices. Partners include DNR, NRCS, Army Corps of Engineers and the Division of Forestry, Agriculture, and Parks and Outdoor Recreation.
Salcha-Delta SWCD offers use of geographical information system (GIS) technology to help landowners locate boundaries, pinpoint conservation practices, map soils and identify weed infestations. The US Army uses Salcha-Delta SWCDs GIS services on a weekly basis to help plan soil and water conservation practices in the various training areas within District boundaries. Salcha-Delta SWCD also created maps for local organizations to help with event planning. The purpose is to help landowners and organizations better plan and execute conservation practices.