Cleveland County Conservation District

Helping People Reconnect To Our Environment


What Is The Organic Initiative?

The Organic Initiative provides financial assistance to implement a broad set of conservation practices to assist organic producers in addressing resource concerns including, but not limited to assistance with:
·         Developing a conservation plan
·         Establishing buffer zones
·         Planning and installing pollinator habitat
·         Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion
·         Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices
·         Improving irrigation efficiency
·         Enhancing cropping rotations and nutrient management
The EQIP Organic Initiative
This assistance helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to support the environmental sustainability of their organic operations. Some highlights of the organic provisions in the 2014 Farm Bill and requirements for participation in the program include:
·         Financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices and planning to address resource concerns associated with organic operations
·         Financial assistance is limited to totals of a maximum of $20,000 per fiscal year AND no more than $80,000 over a rolling six year Farm Bill for ALL contracts approved through this authority
·         Producers must meet all the other eligibility requirements associated with EQIP
·         Participants who are not certified or exempt from certification agree to develop and work towards implementing an Organic System Plan (OSP) to meet NOP organic certification through USDA
Who Can Apply
Each fiscal year, NRCS will focus financial and technical assistance through the EQIP Organic Initiative for eligible applicants and land. The applicant must demonstrate control of eligible land in agricultural production. Eligible land includes cropland, rangeland, pastureland, and other farm or ranch lands. Applicants should use the following categories to identify their current or future production system.
Although EQIP supports a wide variety of conservation practices, not all practices are appropriate in all areas. Your local NRCS field office will have a list of the specific practices offered in your State as part of the Organic Initiative.
How to Apply
Visit your local USDA Service Center to apply or visit
NRCS will help eligible producers develop an EQIP plan of operations, which will become the basis of the EQIP contract.
EQIP applications will be ranked based on a number of factors, including the environmental benefits and cost effectiveness of the proposal.
Download NRCS conservation program application (PDF, 267KB) and return to your local service center.
Applications for the EQIP Organic Initiative are accepted on a continuous basis throughout the fiscal year. The current deadline for 2015 applications is March 19, 2015.

Conservation Stewardship Program Extended!

The Conservation Stewardship Program has been extended to March 13, 2015.  For more information, please contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service Norman Field Office at 321-7766.  

General Program Information

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) helps agricultural producers maintain and improve their existing conservation systems and adopt additional conservation activities to address priority resources concerns. CSP participants will receive an annual land use payment for operation-level environmental benefits they produce. Under CSP, participants are paid for conservation performance: the higher the operational performance, the higher their payment. 

CSP encourages land stewards to improve their conservation performance by installing and adopting additional activities, and improving, maintaining, and managing existing activities on agricultural land and nonindustrial private forest land. CSP available nationwide on a continuous application basis.

 The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee, focuses program impacts on natural resources that are of specific concern to Arkansas. Applications will be evaluated relative to other applications addressing similar priority resource concerns to facilitate a competitive ranking process among applicants within a geographic area who face similar resource challenges.


CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forest land in all 50 States and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands Areas. The program is available to all producers, regardless of operation size or types of crops produced.

To be an eligible applicant for the program, a producer must be the operator in the Farm Service Agency (FSA) farm records management system for the agricultural operation being offered for enrollment in the program unless an exception is granted by the State Conservationist. An applicant listed as other producer, other tenant, or owner in the FSA records management system may submit a written request for waiver and must demonstrate that they operate and will have effective control of the land for the term of the proposed contract. The request must be made prior to the application deadline.

Applicants must enroll the entire operation and must include all eligible land that will be under the applicant's control for the term of the proposed contract.  This land must be operated substantially separate from other operations.

Applicants may include individuals, legal entities, joint operations or Indian tribes that meet the stewardship threshold for at least two priority resource concerns when they apply. They must also agree to meet or exceed the stewardship threshold for at least one additional priority resource concern by the end of the contract.

Is CSP Right For Me?

You can play a large role in determining whether or not CSP is right for you. Download and fill out the 2015Conservation Stewardship Self-Screening Checklist (PDF, 178KB). This form is not mandatory.  It’s here to help you determine if CSP is right for you.

How to Apply

Interested producers may begin the application process by completing these steps:

  1. Verify program eligibility and current records at your local USDA Service Center.
  2. Submit a completed NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application.
  3. Provide a map, aerial photograph, or overlay that identifies your agricultural and/or forest operation and delineates the eligible land.  Notify NRCS of any land shown on FSA records as operated by you that is not included in your operation.
You can find more information about this and other NRCS programs buy visiting this page:  The above information was reprinted from the NRCS website. 

Take the Survey-Ok AG Certainty Program

At the request of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission,the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture,Food and Forestry,Oklahoma State University is conducting research to determine if Oklahoma's agricultural producers are interested in participating in a voluntary agricultural certainty program. We would like you to take 10 minutes out of your day to help us determine whether or not this type of program should be created.


First, you may be wondering what exactly a "certainty program" is. This type of program has been implemented by other states,and each has varying characteristics,but the principles are the same.   The process is that an agricultural producer voluntarily enrolls into a program where they receive a conservation plan written by the U.S.D.A. Natural Resource Conservation Service or a similar entity.

After the producer implements the recommended conservation practices, they can elect to sign an agreement with state and federal partners in which he or she agrees to maintain the implemented conservation practices for a specified amount of time. In exchange,the producer receives assurance,or "certainty" that they will not have to implement any additional practices for the length of the contract if additional state and/or federal regulations are implemented. In other words,such a program protects agricultural producers from future regulations.


This research is being conducted in the form of a survey in accordance with Oklahoma Statute,Title 2. Section 2-18.3. In the following pages you will find a participant information sheet, and the survey. Please read the participant information sheet before completing the survey. If you have questions about the potential certainty program, please contact Shanon Phillips, Water Quality Division Director at the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. For questions about the survey,please contact Liza Marshall, Graduate Research Associate at Oklahoma State University. We thank you in advance for your participation.


This survey was mailed in paper form in October and November of 2013;some of you may have received it that way. However, another option to participate is to complete the survey online at the following website:



If you choose to participate through the online survey, submitting the completed survey indicates your willingness to participate in this research study.

We would also like to offer you the chance to win one of six $50.00 gift cards to Atwoods!  All you have to do is write  your mailing address in the comments  section of your completed written survey,or provide your mailing address in the requested space on the online version, and you will be entered in a drawing for your chance to win.  If you are the winner, we will simply send the gift card to the address that you provided on the survey.


If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Liza Marshall at (405) 269-6500 or,or Shanon Phillips at (405) 522-4728.  We hope that you will assist us in our research and thank you in advance for your participation.


Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announces that there is an opportunity for local producers in Cleveland County to apply for conservation cost share programs. These Programs are the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) and the Conservation Reserve Program (CSP).

USDA-NRCS administers EQIP as a voluntary conservation program that provides  technical assistance and payments to help crop and livestock producers address environmental concerns through conservation improvements on agricultural and non-industrial private forest lands.  Farmers and ranchers can use EQIP to farm in an environmentally friendly manner and still meet their agricultural production goals.  Under the amended EQIP program, socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers as well as beginning and limited resource producers are authorized to receive payments of up to 90 percent of the cost of installing or implementing a conservation practice.   NRCS stated, "the high priority resource concerns for the 2014 Environmental Quality Incentive Program and location of local emphasis areas will be determined by obtaining input from local people in a locally led meeting.  For more information please call, NRCS Norman Field Office at 405-321-7766 or via email at 

NRCS administers the WHIP program as well.  WHIP is a voluntary conservation program that offers cost-sahre incentives to landowners to voluntarily develop and improve wildlife habitat on private lands.  Participants work with NRCS and the Conservation District to develop a wildlife habitat development plan and contract.  All privately owned rural lands are eligible for participation.  Applicants must have their farm records established and an Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) certification in place with the Farm Service Agency.

NRCS also administers CSP.  This program encourages producers to address resource concerns in a comprehensive manner by: undertaking additional conservation activities; and improving, maintaining, and managing existing conservation practices.  The CSP is available on Tribal and private agricultural lands and non-industrial private forestland.

We are accepting applicaitons for participation in the EQIP, WHIP and CSP programs on a continous basis.  It is recommended that producers visit the NRCS office and get an application.


The term Plasticulture is defined as the use of plastics in agriculture.  This broad term would include plastic film mulches, drip irrigation, tape, row covers, low tunnels, high tunnels, silage bags, hay bale wraps, and plastic trays and pots used in transplant and bedding plant production.

Use of plastic in horticulture crop production has increased dramatically inthe last 10 years even though the number of agricultural plastic manufacturers has been reduced by 40% over the same period.

The Use of plasticulture in the production of horticultural crops (vegetables, small fruits, flowers, tree fruits, and ornamentals) helps to mitigate the sometime extreme fluctuations in weather, especially temperature, rainfall and wind, which occurs in many parts of North America.  Many growers experience some extreme in weather conditions during the growing season that can kill or injure the crops, or reduce marketable yield.  Row covers, low tunnels and high tunnels all have the potential to minimize the effect of these extreme weather events on the crop and optimize plant growth environment.

The Oklahoma Plasticulture Project Grant Program offers small limited resource farmers an opportunity to diversify their enterprises by adding specialty crop productions to their operations.  The program emphasizes marketing and requires a three-year commitment with a possible one-year extension.  The plasticulture projects range from 1/4 acre to 1 acre in size.  A soil and water test must be performed prior to gorund preparation to ensure that plants will be productive.  For more information please visit, or email

*The above article was reprinted from the Plasticulture Grant Program brochure.  The picture is Micah Anderson applying a plastic row.


The Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers. The goal of the initiative is to assist producers to extent the growing season for high value crops in an environmentally safe manner.

How The Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative Works

The Initiative may assist producers in addressing a resource concern by:

  • improving plant quality
  • improving soil quality
  • reducing nutrient and pesticide transportation
  • improving air quality through reduced transportation inputs
  • reducing energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce

Who Can Apply

Eligible applicants include individuals, legal entities, Indian Tribes, or joint operations engaged in agricultural production. Organic producers who grow agricultural commodities on eligible land and have natural resource concerns which may be addressed by a seasonal high tunnel may participate in the Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative.

Eligible producers interested in entering into a financial assistance agreement with NRCS for EQIP assistance may file an application at any time. Applicants must be:

  • an agricultural producer and have control of eligible land for the term of the proposed contract period; eligible land includes cropland
  • in compliance with the provisions for protecting the interests of tenants and sharecroppers, including the provisions for sharing EQIP payments on a fair and equitable basis
  • in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation compliance provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill
  • within appropriate payment limitation requirements, as specified in the 2008 Farm Bill
  • in compliance with adjusted gross income requirements of the 2008 Farm Bill

Core Practice

Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops

Supporting Practices

The following list of practices is also available to producers (as applicable to their state) to support the Seasonal High Tunnel Practice to help ensure that the resource concerns are addressed while implementing and managing the Seasonal High Tunnel:

  • Critical Area Planting
  • Diversion
  • Grassed Waterway
  • Irrigation Reservoir
  • Irrigation System, Microirrigation
  • Subsurface Drain
  • Surface Drainage, Field Ditch
  • Underground Outlet

How To Apply

NRCS accepts and processes EQIP applications on a continuous basis. However, each state may establish deadlines for one or more application periods in which to consider eligible applications for funding. Applications submitted after these dates will be evaluated and considered for funding during later funding opportunities. Producers must submit a complete program application and other documentation to support eligibility to be considered for financial assistance through EQIP.

Information about how to apply for assistance through EQIP, as well as, deadlines specific to the available application periods for each state, is available online. Click on the State where the property that you are interested in enrolling in EQIP is located. This will take you to that State's Programs home page, which will link to that State's EQIP page.


With the drought continuing on for the foreseeable future many people are concerned about another "Dust Bowl".

The Conservation Districts and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were established shortly after this disaster to help landowners manage their lands using conservation practices.  The partnership between the Districts and NRCS provide free technical assistance, conservation plans and cost share assistance to keep our soil where it can do the most good.  We have programs to help with water wells, brush management, pond construction, hoop houses, erosion controls and range management.

Life Magazine has recently released unpublished images of the Oklahoman in the 1940's who stayed and lived through the worst agricultural disaster we have ever had in this country.  If you are interested in seeing the other 20 pictures in this series, please visit for the full gallery and attached article.

If you are interested in applying for one of our many programs or are in need of technical assistance, please call our offices at 405-364-7319. 


The Ok Forestry Services are ready to sale their seedlings.  The bare root trees must be purchased in lots of 50 seedlings. 


The Oklahoma Forestry Service has brought back their wildlife packages! According to the Forestry Service, property owners can attract greater numbers and more diversified species of wildlife by improving their habitat.  Combinations of trees, shrubs, vines, flowers and grassy areas provide essential food, cover, nesting and breeding sties that wildlife needs to thrive.  An example of one of the wildlife packages is the Songbird Habitat Package; 25 hackberry, 25 red mulberry, 25 chokeberry and 25 fragrant sumac.  Seedling packages are available in March, but you should order yours today!

To order your seedlings go to or call 1-800-517-3673


If you are interested in any of the programs that the NRCS provides, please contact our local office at 405-321-7766.  Then Norman Field Office covers Cleveland County, however, they can assist you to find the local field office in your area.  The Natural Resources Conservation Service is a partner of the Conservation District and together we work hard for your natural resources.


In 1996 Craig Evans, OSU Extension Services and Wayne Fjeseth, NRCS set up an experiment in control Musk Thistle in Cleveland County.  They released Musk Thistle Weevils at several locations throughout Cleveland County.  This weevil is the best biological control of the spread of Musk Thistle that is available.

Today, an effort is being made to collect information about the success of that program in the areas of release.  We would also like to gather data concerning the problem on Must Thistle in Cleveland County.  If you have musk thistle on your property, please contact the District and report the location.


On October 19, 2011 a scene from the 1930's was repeated in Lubbock, Texas.  A new dust storm developed and then enveloped the town due to drought, high winds gusting as high as 74 mph and exposed soils.  All of these elements caused a new "Dust Bowl" to emerge in our time. It appears that the lessons that we were taught during the first "Dust Bowl" have been slowly forgotten.  The National Weather Center reports that we will probably continue in this current pattern of drought.  It is more important than ever to receive a Conservation Plan for your farm property.  A Conservation Plan is designed by the NRCS to help you to identify your conservation issues, determine which practices to use to correct them and how to apply the practices.  If you are interested in receiving a Conservation Plan of your property in Cleveland County, please contact Dr. Carol Crouch at the Norman Field Office at 321-7766 or the Conservation District at 405-364-7319.


AG Weather is a free online tool that keeps you ahead of Oklahoma;s changing weather.  It uses the Oklahoma Mesonet to deliver the latest weather data, so you have the information that you need to meet every weather challenge.

Ag Weather is free, local and has been desgined specifically for agriculture.  It features zoomable radar, detailed forecastes and is updated every 5 minutes.  Check out their website today.


The NRCS has announced that they have partnered witht he Innovation Center for US Dairy to support the launch of a new web resource.  This website will help dairy farmers find and implement proven energy conservation techniques.

By helping farmers conserve energy, they are helping to reduce agriculture's carbon footprint; helping to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels; and saving farmers money- this improves their bottom lines.

Check out the video message to learn more about this great resource; and visit the website here: