April 29 has been set as the cutoff date for signup for the Precision Farming Incentive under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Alabama State Conservationist William Puckett with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced.

Applying for EQIP is continuous. However, selecting applications for funding is completed periodically through batching periods with specific cutoff dates.

The Precision Farming Incentive is designed to encourage the adoption of variable-rate application of nutrients and pesticides and promote the use of GPS-enabled precision agricultural technology and equipment.

The goals of the Precision Farming Incentive include improving water quality by targeting areas for reduced nutrient and pesticide application, reducing runoff and leaching of pesticides, enhancing soil quality through reduced erosion and soil compaction and energy conservation through accurate and efficient application of crop inputs. The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) is partnering on this initiative.

Under the Precision Farming Incentive, annually planted cropland in the following counties is eligible for 2011: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Cherokee, Clay, Coffee, Colbert, Covington, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Escambia, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Lamar, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Pickens, Randolph, Russell and Winston.

Interested producers should visit their nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the farm bill eligibility requirements. Contact your local NRCS or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process. NRCS field offices are listed in the telephone directory under U.S. Department of Agriculture or on-line here.