Farmers have an opportunity to apply by mid-September for state cost-share assistance to help them buy soil-health equipment or retrofit their current machinery.

Mower Soil & Water Conservation District is seeking interested farmers in Mower County for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) program that offers 50 percent cost-share, ranging from $500 to $50,000 for the purchase of new equipment, used equipment or parts to retrofit existing equipment all for the benefit of soil health.

Overall, nearly $2.4 million has been allocated for the program to get more soil-health equipment being used on Minnesota cropland. Examples of soil-health equipment covered by the grant include no-till drills, air seeders, high boys that seed cover crops before harvest, variable-rate equipment and retrofit projects to convert corn detasslers to high boys.

Applications are due by Sept. 15 and must be submitted via MDA’s website by 4 p.m. that day.

Soil-health practices, such as reduced tillage and cover crops, have the potential to improve agricultural productivity by reducing input costs and increasing productivity. At the same time, soil-health practices can help protect water resources by increasing the water-holding capacity of soil and reducing the movement of pollutants to streams and lakes.

Under the grant program, applicants must be owners or lessees of farmland in Minnesota although local-government units – such as cities, towns, counties and SWCDs – can apply for grants. These grants run for one year and only are for reimbursements although expenses cannot occur prior to the grant’s contract start date.

Grant applications require the cost of the equipment; an explanation of how the equipment will be used to advance soil health on your farm; and the number of acres that will benefit from the equipment’s use, among other information.

With applications, prioritization points are awarded to applicants who belong to historically underserved communities and those with an operation actively certified or assessed and working toward certification in MDA’s Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP). Points also are awarded to applications for equipment that will be used to implement a Resource Management System (RMS) plan with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

Applications can be done online through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s website: www.mda.state.mn.us/soil-health-grant At the MDA website, a Request for Proposal includes details on the application, scoring criteria, eligibility and more.

In Mower County, for more information, contact district manager Cody Fox at Mower SWCD at [email protected] or 507-434-2603, ext. 5.

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