Wichita, Kansas funds $100 acre for grass plantings in watershed

The City of Wichita, Kansas is now paying farmers in one of its watershed areas $100 an acre to put in grass. This is an incentive handled by the Cheney Lake Watershed to improve water quality for the city by working with watershed landowners.

This is yet another example of local policy leadership on water cycling, and an example of ecosystem services payments where cost and benefit are nearby. The article quoted below is by Lisa French.

http://www.cheneylakewatershed.org/newsletter/2009-Summer.pdf

"Like most farmers, David Friesen has a few acres of cropland that are always difficult to farm. In David’s case, his field near the Ninnescah River has a tendency to stay wet. Getting a crop planted and harvesting the crop are both a challenge. With a new program offered by the Cheney Lake Watershed, David is going to be paid $100/acre to seed a little more than 5 acres to Eastern gamagrass for hay or grazing. As David says, “It looks like it’s a no-brainer.”

"The Cheney Lake Watershed is now offering one-time incentive payments of $100/acre, funded by the City of Wichita, for crop acres seeded to permanent vegetation. The species used depend on the producer’s goals, soil types, and site condition. Eligible land must have five years of cropping history and must be located within the watershed east of Highway 14. Land in this area is more likely to contribute sediment to Cheney Reservoir than other areas of the watershed.

"The watershed staff will work with landowners to locate additional cost share funds to cover the cost of seeding and a water source for livestock, if needed. In return for the incentive payment the landowner is asked to develop a ten year management plan for establishment and maintenance of the grass. These grass plantings may be one of the most effective practices to reduce soil losses in key areas of the watershed. And at the same time the program presents an economical option for landowners who want to convert cropland to grazing or hay production. For more information, contact the Watershed office at 620-665-0231."