The first participants of the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) have from July 11 until Sept. 12 to renew their contracts and make decisions on additional conservation activities benefiting priority natural resource issues.

CSP, offered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), helps farmers and ranchers take conservation investments to the next level.

About 20,000 CSP contracts will soon reach the end of their initial five-year contract period. Participants may renew these contracts for an additional five years when they agree to complete additional conservation measures. More than 1,400 Iowa farmers are eligible for this CSP contract renewal.

 “CSP farmers are conservation leaders who go the extra mile to conserve Iowa’s resources,” Iowa NRCS State Conservationist Jay Mar said. “The 2014 Farm Bill continued that strong commitment and heightened the program’s focus on generating conservation benefits.”

Since CSP began in 2009, more than 58 million acres have been enrolled in the program – an area the size of Indiana and Wisconsin combined. CSP participants boost conservation benefits by installing new conservation activities that make positive changes in soil, water, air and wildlife habitat.

“This program allows landowners to reach the next level of conservation and opens the door to trying new conservation activities,” Mar said.

For example, the program has helped Cass County Farmer Kris Wernimont use nutrients more wisely on her 231-acre farm.

She said she feels one particular enhancement — split nitrogen application — is not only environmentally friendly, but it also helps increase profits. This practice involves applying 50 percent of total crop nitrogen needs within 30 days prior to planting and the remaining 50 percent after crop emergence. "We are making better use of our nutrients," she said. "The plant can now utilize nitrogen as needed, when it needs it, and in a timely manner."

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through CSP, visit, the Conservation Stewardship webpage or local USDA service center. For more on the 2014 Farm Bill, visit