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Irrigation cost-share now available in 19 Minnesota counties

Applications will be accepted through December 16.

A view of a cornfield from a tower at one end of an irrigation pivot.
John Swanson has three irrigation pivots that he uses on his farm near Mentor, Minnesota in Polk County.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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The second round of a cost-share for irrigation system upgrades and associated practices is now available to producers in 19 Minnesota counties. 

Funding for the cost-share is available through a $3.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program award. The program is part of a five-year project designed for partner organizations to work directly with producers on irrigation projects at a level that fits their needs and goals.

The program is now available to producers with irrigation systems located within Becker, Benton, Cass, Dakota, Douglas, East Otter Tail, Grant, Hubbard, Kandiyohi, Meeker, Morrison, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Wadena, Washington and West Otter soil and water conservation districts. Applications will be accepted through Dec. 16, 2022, through local SWCD offices.

Financial and technical support will be provided to irrigators willing to adopt and integrate “proven precision irrigation” and nitrogen management practices, according to a press release from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, with the goal of addressing groundwater quality and quantity issues under irrigated cropland. 

In the first round of the program this past spring, 12 irrigators from seven counties received a total of over $685,000 in cost-share.

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The cost-share is available for practices such as installing soil moisture sensors for irrigation scheduling, upgrades of sprinkler packages, conversion to variable rate application, advanced irrigation water management and fertigation retrofits, according to the MDA. The cost-share amount varies, and applicants should contact their local SWCD for more information.

Acres receiving cost-share for irrigation practices are also eligible for cost-share money for cover crops, residue and tillage management and nutrient management.

Over 30 different entities including the MDA, USDA NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, Central Lakes College, AgCentric, University of Minnesota, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and other businesses have partnered to offer the program. 

In addition to providing the cost-share, a limited number of irrigators will receive a stipend to participate in the AgCentric Farm Business Management Program to provide an annual financial analysis of their operation. 

More information is available through the program website: https://www.agcentric.org/rcpp-precision-irrigation . Contact your local SWCD for more information about the program and how to apply.

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