Conservation Reserve Program

Andy Hulting and Ed Peachey
March 2022

The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) is designed to control erosion, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat on environmentally sensitive land by planting permanent crops. A combination of desirable plants including trees, grasses, legumes, and shrubs must be planted and maintained for the duration of the contract which usually runs for 10 to 15 years. CRP land may not be harvested or grazed by domestic animals except under emergency circumstances following natural disasters, or certain other managed conditions. In addition to grasses, most new acreage in this program may include plantings of alfalfa and/or clovers. A portion of the qualifying acreage may also include other broadleaf plants such as flax, yarrow, and sagebrush. This combination of desirable grasses and broadleaf plants makes weed management difficult. Read herbicide labels carefully. Use the following text as a starting point to select the proper herbicides to apply in CRP. Be prepared for some level of damage to desirable plants following herbicide applications, especially to legume species.

By law, certain noxious weeds must be controlled. The list of weeds is created at the county level; it varies depending on locality. Also, weed control in the first year is crucial for good stand establishment of the desirable CRP species.

Caution Herbicides applied to CRP land may be extremely harmful to nearby crops. When CRP land adjoining cropland is sprayed by air or ground, take exceptional care to avoid drift onto cropland.