Water-Savings Incentives

Water-Savings Incentives

The URNRD has had cost-share programs to incentivize the use of soil moisture probes since 2011. The vast majority of the probes installed under the cost share programs have been the newest generation of capacitance probes with data transmitted to irrigators via telemetry systems. Most have software programs that provide easy-to-read illustrations of available soil moisture at varying root depths and recommendations on whether irrigations are needed. Research indicates that use of the probes can reduce irrigation applications by 1"-2" annually. Discussions with irrigators who regularly use probes verify those figures. Since 2011, the URNRD has provided cost share for approximately 1,120 probes on more than 145,000 acres.

The District's cost share programs are sometimes dependent on grant funds, In 2020, the URNRD was awarded a $124,000 grant from the State of Nebraska's Water Sustainability Fund. In the past, grant funds have been made available by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

The link to the application form is below. 

The District sells traditional moisture probes that allow growers to pull soil core samples from a depth of up to 30". To buy a probe from the District, call the office at 888-883-9066.

CREP Enrollment

The Nebraska Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, CREP, is intended to reduce irrigation water use, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat through the establishment of vegetative cover. The program also will help replenish streams, rivers and reservoirs.

The goals of the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP are to:

  • Reduce the application of water for cropland irrigation
  • Increase surface and groundwater retention
  • Establish conservation buffers and restore wetlands
  • Reduce the application of triazine products
  • Reduce leaching of nitrate compounds into area streams and groundwater
  • Reduce the application of phosphate products
  • Reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels from agricultural activities
  • Establish native grassland habitat for wildlife and increase the populations of pheasants and other ground nesting birds
  • Reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and electricity for irrigation

The area eligible for CREP in the Upper Republican NRD is the 50,257 acres within quick response area, which is generally irrigated land located within 2.5 miles of a stream.

Enrollment for the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP is on a continuous basis. To be eligible, land must be located in the project area and be irrigated cropland or a non-irrigated center-pivot corner. Non-irrigated center-pivot corners are only eligible if enrolled with the associated irrigated centerpivot cropland. Cropland must meet irrigation history requirements of being irrigated four out of six years between 2012 and 2017and be capable of being planted to an agricultural commodity.

In addition, irrigated cropland must meet irrigation history requirements and must be physically and legally capable of being irrigated in a normal manner when offered for enrollment. Producers must also enter into a Water Use Contract with the State of Nebraska prior to enrollment in the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP.

There is a one-time signing payment determined by the practice installed to incentivize CREP enrollment in addition to the normal annual CREP payments.

CREP payment rates for our area are $210 for Chase County and $215 for Dundy County an acre for duration of contract which is 10-15 years. Pivot corners are based on the soil rental rate.

Conservation Practices

  • Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses;
  • Permanent Wildlife Habitat, Non-Easement;
  • Wildlife Food Plots;
  • Filter Strips;
  • Riparian Buffer;
  • Wetland Restoration;
  • Wetland Restoration, Non-Floodplain; and
  • Rare and Declining Habitat.

Cost-share is available for 50% of the installation of new practices.

The Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP provides additional benefits not available through general and/or continuous CRP sign-up. Under the Nebraska Platte-Republican Resources Area CREP, producers receive higher annual rental payments, which increases the total amount received. Sign up between May and Spetember to receive payments starting October 1 (the beginning of the FSA Fiscal year) to ensure payment for full contract.

In addition to rental payments made through the FSA, payments up to $8/acre are available to landowners willing to allow walk-in hunting access through the NGPC Open Fields and Waters program.  Funding for management may also be available within certain areas, contact your local NGPC or Pheasants Forever biologist for information.


A Lincoln County producer elects to enroll 160 acres of irrigated cropland to be devoted to native grasses (practice CP2) in a 15-year contract, and enters into a Water Use Contract with the state. The base soil rental rate for the land is $210 per acre. The producer’s total annual payment is $33,600 ($210 x 160 acres). The producer will receive $504,000 in annual rental payments over the 15-year term of the CRP contract. The producer will receive cost-share payments equal to 50 percent of the eligible reimbursable costs to install the native grasses. In addition, the State of Nebraska will pay the producer cost-share payments equal to 50 percent of the eligible reimbursable costs to install the native grasses.

For more information about FSA and its programs, visit fsa.usda.gov or contact your local FSA office. Contact the FSA to enroll in the CREP. To find a local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-center-locator.