PUTNAM COUNTY — The Small Grain Program is a voluntary program that encourages producers in the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed to plant small grains such as wheat, barley, oats or cereal rye on eligible cropland. This program promotes the planting of small grains not only for the conservation benefits, but to provide livestock producers with a longer time period to land apply manure and nutrients.

Sign-up is for current wheat acres that will be harvested this summer. The program requires farmers to apply manure on the field after harvest, and to plant a cover crop by September 15. Producers interested in learning more and joining this or other Working Lands programs should call the Putnam SWCD at: 419-523-5159. Sign-up is now until June 1.

The Sentinel first published information on this program in our April 18 edition. Since then, the Putnam County Soil & Water Conservation District has fielded and answered a number of questions. We are providing the answers to some of the most common questions as follows:

  • double crop beans is acceptable as a cover crop and can be harvested this fall;
  •  clover that is or was put on with top dress can count as your cover crop, considering the stand is still there this fall;
  • no tillage can be done from September 15, 2019 through March 1, 2020;
  • cover crop does not have to be over wintering.
  • manure can only be applied to fields with Phosphorus levels 50 PPM/100 lbs per acre or less. We can split your field if you have some acres over/under in your grid soil sample;
  • acres paid will be based on acres of manure applied (PCSWCD will minus any setbacks that need to be followed);
  • most likely, PCSWCD will be opening up this program for new 2020 wheat acres. Sign-up will be late summer. If you know you are interested, let the agency know and they will put you on a list to lock-in your acres when the program opens up.

The Small Grain Program is part of the Working Lands program. As the name suggests, these programs are intended to help farmers maintain a level of agriculture production while providing conservation benefits. Planting small grains and cover crops can be beneficial to soil health. And, expanding the time period to land apply manure and nutrients can minimize the risk of nutrient runoff. The cost-share incentive payments of $75 per acre allows producers to practice conservation with minimal out of pocket cost.