Category Archives: News

News about Kentucky Woodlands and their owners

USDA Invites Input on Environmental Quality Incentives Program Rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) seeks public comments on its interim rule for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), USDA’s flagship program that helps producers plan and implement 150-plus conservation practices on working lands. The rule – now available on the Federal Register takes effect upon publication and includes changes to the program prescribed by the 2018 Farm Bill.

Submit comments on or before February 17, 2020.

Changes to EQIP include creating incentive contracts and payments for incentive practices to better support locally led conservation needs.

Ranking criteria for the Kentucky program are available at https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/site/ky/home/

Editor’s note:  Below are excerpts from the federal notice of interest to woodland owners and watershed areas.

Nonindustrial private forest land (NIPF) means rural land, as determined by NRCS, that has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees; and is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, Indian Tribe, or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land.

The statutory changes made by the 2018 Farm Bill include introducing new EQIP Incentive Contracts, which can address up to three priority resource concerns for each of the relevant land uses within state-identified watersheds or other areas of high priority. NRCS may also enter into EQIP contracts under a streamlined contracting process with “water management entities” to implement water conservation or irrigation practices under a watershed-wide project that will effectively conserve water, provide fish and wildlife habitat, or provide for drought-related environmental mitigation.

NRCS received comments focusing on increased payments for high-priority practices, most of which underlined the inclusion of practices that address the goals of state wildlife action plans and other state and local plans involving watershed rehabilitation and drought management.

Sections in new Subpart D – EQIP Incentive Contracts

Subpart D is a new subpart and addresses the new enrollment option, EQIP incentive contracts, as created by section 2304 of the 2018 Farm Bill. This new subpart has the following sections:

  •  1466.41 Incentive Contract Selection

Incentive practices that qualify will depend on future determinations by a state conservationist with input from the state technical committees as to what the high priority areas are and what the (up to) three priority resource concerns are for each land use within each high priority area.

Eligible land means land on which agricultural commodities, livestock, or forest-related products are produced, and specifically includes nonindustrial private forest land and cropped woodland.

Forest Carbon: A Natural Solution for Climate Change

As a forest landowner, or as someone who helps to steward forests, you can have a significant impact on climate change through the land-use decisions you make.

Forest Carbon: An Essential Natural Solution for Climate Change

2019 University of Massachusetts Amherst

What role will your forest play? Learn:

  • the difference between carbon storage and sequestration
  • what is a carbon pool
  • the difference between individual tree and forest-wide growth rates
  • how forest succession and development affects carbon storage and sequestration
  • the role of forest products in the carbon story
  • the carbon trade-offs of passive and/or active approaches to forest management
  • carbon-informed forest management

Read more…

In addition to keeping forests as forests, landowners’ decisions about the management of their forest and carbon should be made with an understanding of the trade-offs between maximizing carbon sequestration and storage and meeting their other goals (forest resiliency, wildlife, local wood products).

Loggers Seek Parity with Agriculture on Trade, Tariff Policies

The American Loggers Council (ALC) and its member state logging associations delivered letters to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking the administration to include unrefined forest products as an agricultural commodity. ALC and its members say aligning timber and agriculture would enable impacted loggers to receive relief as the industry continues to be impacted by retaliatory tariffs.

 

Edge cutting woodlands for wildlife habitat

Creating new forest openings in successive strips can improve their hunting opportunities through a series of manageable projects while also allowing for forest regeneration through natural production of new seedlings. In fact, there are some clear advantages to gradually regenerating your woods in small stages as compared to a single, large cut.

 

Advantages of this technique include:

– Creation of a transitional zone

– Providing cover adjacent to forage

– Flexible scheduling

– Incremental testing

How To Minimize Your Timber Sale Tax Bill

If you received money for the sale of timber, the government expects taxes to be paid on that income. The amount of tax you pay on that income will depend on the nature of the timber sale and how well you follow the rules to minimize the tax liability.

There are three main ways to reduce the tax bill; 1) report income as capital gains, 2) calculate the timber basis and depletion, and 3) keep receipts for all out-of-pocket expenses related to the timber sale.

Read more from the Michigan State University Extension…

When to let a dead tree lie

It’s often argued that logging trees killed by insects or diseases is beneficial for forests—but evidence is mounting that it causes long-term ecological disruption.

The latest findings come from Białowieża Forest, a 550-square-mile woodland that straddles Poland and Belarus. It’s one of the few places in Europe where natural cycles of wind, fire, and disease still shape a forest at landscape scales. However, salvage logging after bark beetle outbreaks has altered the potential for natural generation according to a new study in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.

The forest is set on a new trajectory that inevitably leads to the homogenization of the forest. Several years later, the herb layer in logged sites was dominated by disturbance specialists rarely found within the intact forest. The previous herb layer was largely destroyed by machinery or withered in the suddenly intense sunshine. Their seeds did not sprout. When beetle-killed trees were left alone, though, the original herb layer regrew. Dead trees provided necessary shade; their fallen trunks and branches created pockets of protection from grazing.

What’s the Difference Between Forests, Woods, and Jungles?

According to Merriam-Webster, a forest is “a dense growth of trees and underbrush covering a large tract,” while woods are “a dense growth of trees usually greater in extent than a grove and smaller than a forest.” To set it apart from woods, or woodland, a forest usually has to meet certain density qualifications. Unlike forests, jungles don’t have specific scientific classifications, because the word jungle isn’t really used by scientists. According to Sciencing, it’s a colloquial term that usually denotes what scientists refer to as tropical forests.

Read more….

Biochar, Returning Carbon to the Soil…Naturally

Farmers and forest landowners are unlocking anew approach and bringing back an ancient practice that transforms farm waste into high-quality compost to improve soil health. Partners are converting animal manure and woody debris into biochar – a form of long-lasting charcoal. Biochar not only provides benefits to soil health, but also production and carbon sequestration. A new enhancement for the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program allows participants to convert their woody debris into biochar.

Biochar is made by baking biomass (such as tree wood, plants, manure, and other organic materials) without the oxygen that could cause it to burn completely to ash. In the barn it can be applied directly to manure to capture nitrogen as it is generated. It can be mixed with composted manure for use a as fertilizer for pastures.

Simple, portable kilns are used to burn biomass to create biochar. The key to burning is that the flame is on the top of the kiln—which burns particulates in smoke and limits oxygen flow to the char layers below the flame, preventing the char from burning all the way to ash.

For a deeper dive into the science of biochar and on-farm applications check out these online resources.

For more information on USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Conservation Innovation Grants.

Barr Farms, Rhodelia, KY is presenting its experience with biochar at the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group conference January 22-25 in Little Rock, AR.