CREP Technical Q & A

The following Q & A's have the concurrence of the State of Michigan Agencies involved in CREP, USDA-FSA and USDA-NRCS.

Q1: What constitutes an eligible body of water for filter strip and riparian buffer establishment under the CRP/CREP?
A1: Policy on what constitutes an eligible body of water in relation to CP-21, Filter Strip, & CP-22, Riparian Buffer, practice eligibility is provided in Exhibit 9 of the 2-CRP Handbook and in the 1-MI-CRP Handbook. At the roll out training sessions for CREP it was indicated that if a road ditch met the seasonal stream definition, then the cropland immediately adjacent and parallel would be eligible for enrollment. Questions from the field on this concept indicate a need for clarification. A true road ditch would not meet eligibility requirements, but many road ditches are actually drainage ditches in that they drain directly or indirectly into a water body and contain water for part of the year, more than just during and/or after rainfall or snowmelt, thus meeting the seasonal stream definition. The seasonally flooded wetland definition, which is surface water is present for extended periods of not less than 21 calendar days during the growing season, may be useful in determining if a "road ditch" is actually a drainage ditch, and thus eligible for enrollment purposes. 

Each site is a case by case determination.

Q2: Are water bodies with berms or spoils along their banks eligible for filter strip or riparian buffer establishment under the CRP/CREP?
A2: Yes, if one or more of the following water quality resource concerns are documented and adequately addressed with the installed practice:

1) concentrated flow  

2) leaching to ground water  

3) soil deposition due to wind erosion

4) sheet & rill erosion (see practice purposes in Exhibit 9 of the 2-CRP Handbook)

Q3: Can filter strips or riparian buffers established under the CRP/CREP be used as lanes?
A3: No, CRP acreage shall not be used as a lane or road under any circumstances (paragraph 241 F of the 2-CRP Handbook and the 1-MI-CRP Handbook).

Q4: Can wildlife habitat be the only resource concern documented to determine CRP/CREP eligibility?
A4: No, the primary focus of the CRP/CREP is to improve soil, water, and wildlife resources with the primary concern being a soil or water improvement, and wildlife habitat improvement being a strong secondary concern (see practice purposes in Exhibit 9 of the 2-CRP Handbook and the 1-MI-CRP Handbook).

Q5: Do resource concerns need to be verified at every site for CRP/CREP eligibility?
A5: Yes (see practice purposes in Exhibit 9 of the 2-CRP Handbook and the1-MI-CRP Handbook).

Q6: Is it possible for FSA to bring on extra staffing to assist with CREP activities?
A6: Yes, FSA County Executive Directors need to work with their District Director in identifying staffing needs and providing justification to the State Office.

Q7: Are all agencies involved in the CRP/CREP required to use the 1-MI-CRP Handbook?
A7: Yes, 1-MI-CRP (Rev. 3) Amendment 1 dated 04/16/2001 is the latest version. This handbook has three parts (Part 1, Program Provisions, Part 2, Regular/Continuous CRP Practices, Part 3, CREP Practices) in addition to the Exhibits.

Q8: Will NRCS be providing technical assistance to landowners that enroll in the state sponsored Livestock Access Program (LAP) that is being offered in conjunction with CREP?
A8: Yes, only if local workloads permit.

Q9: Will there be additional training on CREP?
A9: Yes, follow-up training is in the works, with additional training being provided as needs are identified.

Q10: Are soil tests required on all practices under the CRP/CREP?
A10: Yes, soil tests are required on all practices with a vegetative component. Since water quality improvement is a major emphasis of CRP/CREP, soil tests will ensure that the vegetative practices are successfully established without nutrient loading. Cost-sharing is authorized for the application of lime and fertilizer recommended on a current soil test. Also, the cost of the laboratory soil analysis is cost-sharable.  

Soil tests taken from the area involved in the practice within three years from the time the request for cost-sharing is made are usable, according to MSU Extension Bulletin E-498. Soil tests shall be from a laboratory using the same test procedures that are being used in the Michigan State University State central soil laboratory. All recommendations shall be made by Cooperative Extension Service Personnel in accordance with MSU Extension Bulletin E-550.

Q11: Who is responsible for obtaining state permits for practices that require them?
A11: It is the participant's responsibility to apply for, and obtain, all necessary permits. A permit brochure is being developed by Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy to assist participants in understanding the process. Copies will be distributed to the USDA Service Centers.

Q12: Are wildlife food plots eligible to be established on CP-1, Introduced Grasses and Legumes and CP-2, Native Grasses, practices under CREP?
A12: No, the Michigan CREP Agreement does not contain authorization of the CP-12, Wildlife Food Plot, practice.

Q13: Can a CP-5A, Windbreak, practice be established on the outside of a filter strip or riparian buffer?
A13: As with all CRP/CREP practices, there are site specifics, but this application would be very hard to justify.

Q14: Can a participant enroll to establish a filter strip or riparian buffer on a site where there is an established two-track or lane immediately adjacent to an eligible body of water?
A14: Yes, as long as there is a documented resource concern to justify establishment of the filter strip or riparian buffer practice on the site.  

Procedure requires that filter strips and riparian buffers enrolled in CRP/CREP begin at the top of the eligible body of water's bank. In some cases, such as with an existing two-track, lane, berm etc., there may be land that is adjacent to the eligible body of water that does not meet the eligibility criteria to be enrolled in CRP/CREP. This land is not eligible, and shall not be enrolled in CRP/CREP. However, if the eligible land is enrolled in CRP/CREP as a filter strip or riparian buffer, the ineligible land shall be included:

  • in the area used as a filter strip or riparian buffer
  • in the conservation plan
  • when determining the width of the filter strip or riparian buffer.

The producer is responsible for maintaining the entire practice in accordance with the plan, including the ineligible acreage. Failure to maintain the entire width of the practice may result in CRP payment reductions or termination.

A participant could establish a two track on the field side of a filter strip or riparian buffer (on non-contract acreage) assuming that the practice functions would not be compromised.

Q15: Can a CRP/CREP practice be established to protect or improve a water body on neighboring property?
A15: Yes, assuming all other eligibility requirements are met and a resource concern is documented.

Q16: If NRCS makes an eligibility determination to install a practice to protect a wetland on adjoining property, are they in effect making a wetland determination on that adjoining property?
A16: No, these are two separate functions. With CRP/CREP, NRCS is making a site visit to determine acreage eligibility and suitability of the practice to address a documented resource concern. A certified wetland determination is made by NRCS upon receipt of an AD-1026 indicating a yes to questions 8, 9 or 10, and a completed NRCS-CPA-38, Request for Certified Wetland Determination/Delineation.

Q17: Can seed mixtures other than those listed in the 1-MI-CRP Handbook be used?
A17: Yes, for general and continuous CRP. No, for CREP. Part 2, which pertains to general and continuous CRP, allows for any seed mix from the NRCS Michigan Field Office Technical Guide standard for approved practice technical codes. Part 3, which pertains to CREP, contains very specific seed mixtures.

Q18: Is the 5# of switchgrass seed mixture allowed to satisfy the 70/30 requirement of the CP-1 and CP-2 practices under CREP?
A18: No. Only seed mixtures listed in MI Exhibit 7 of the 2-CRP Handbook and in Part 3 of the 1-MI-CRP Handbook are authorized. Switchgrass was excluded from the approved CREP CP-1 and CP-2 seed mixtures because the approved mixtures provided more diversity in the seeded acreage blocks.

Q19: What is the maximum buffer size allowed on a CREP CP-23 practice?
A19: The CREP CP-23 practice allows up to a 4:1 maximum upland buffer to the restored wetland area. (Note: the maximum upland buffer under the general CRP CP-23 practice is 6:1.)

Q20: What are the CRP/CREP mowing restrictions?
A20: Practice maintenance, which includes mowing restrictions, is contained in paragraph 210.5 of the 2-CRP Handbook. All maintenance practices, such as mowing, spraying, or prescribed burning shall be included in the approved conservation plan. All practices necessary for successful establishment and maintenance of the approved cover shall be included in the approved conservation plan. Once NRCS completes a final status review, all CRP/CREP maintenance activity, such as mowing, burning, and spraying, is conducted outside the primary nesting season for wildlife (April 1 through July 31) and in accordance with the approved conservation plan, except that spot treatment of the acreage may be allowed during the primary nesting season if all of the following are met: • if untreated, the weeds, insects, or undesirable species would adversely impact the approved cover

  • the FSA County Committee (COC), in consultation with NRCS, determines such activity is needed to maintain the approved cover (CRP/CREP participants shall receive COC approval before beginning spot treatment of the acreage)
  • spot treatment is limited to the affected areas of the field.

When spot treatment is determined necessary, COC shall approve a method that results in the least damage to the nesting wildlife and habitat. Spot treatment includes spot spraying and spot mowing, and is limited to the immediate area of infestation.

Periodic mowing and mowing for cosmetic purposes is prohibited at all times, even if this activity is included in the conservation plan.

Annual mowing of CRP/CREP for generic weed control is prohibited.