Project Aims To Protect Water Quality

variable rate overlay on base map

A variable rate phosphorus prescription map for a cotton field in West Tennessee. Image modified by L. Duncan, UT Extension Row Crop Sustainability Specialist who is managing the USDA grant to help protect water quality in the North Fork Obion River Watershed and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico.  Photo courtesy L. Duncan, UTIA. Download image.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Funding will be available through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), providing $400,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help protect water quality in the North Fork Obion River Watershed and ultimately, the Gulf of Mexico. The five-year RCPP agreement between University of Tennessee Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was signed on May 21, 2015, and is now ready to assist farmers in adopting precision nutrient management techniques.

Program enrollment officially kicked off for farmers in the North Fork Obion River Watershed including parts of Obion, Weakley, Henry, Lake, Dyer, Gibson, and Lauderdale counties on Friday, July 17, and runs through Friday, August 7. Farmers with land in production in any of these West Tennessee counties are able to sign up at their local USDA Service Center.

USDA’s NRCS conservation practices will be implemented through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Farmers who are willing or are currently implementing some form of precision agriculture along with cover crops are encouraged to apply. Also, applicants must have yield-monitoring capabilities.

The financial and technical assistance available through these programs will support conservation practices that protect soil health, water quality and quantity, as well as prevent fish and wildlife habitat degradation. Nutrient management practices such as cover crops, application of phosphorus using variable rate technology  (VRT), and animal waste management are the primary conservation focus available through these programs.

For more information on Tennessee RCPP projects, visit the
Tennessee NRCS webpage or view the National RCPP webpage. Lori Duncan, UT Extension Row Crop Sustainability Specialist, can be reached at 865-974-7111 and John Rissler, TN NRCS Assistant State Conservationist, can be reached at 615-277-2576.
The UT Institute of Agriculture provides instruction, research and outreach through the UT College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, UT AgResearch, including its system of 10 research and education centers, and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.



Lori Duncan, UT Extension Row Crop Sustainability Specialist, 865-974-7111


TN NRCS news site