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Partnerships & Programs

Cost Share Assistance
Conservation Districts offer “cost-share” as an incentive for landowners to install eligible conservation Best Management Practices. Cost-share means a landowner pays a portion of a project’s total cost – incentive increases landowner interest and participation in conservation work.

Are you interested in converting your irrigation system from rill to sprinkler or drip irrigation? Or installing a manure transfer pipeline, or other qualifying practice? Depending on funding, we can reimburse landowners for the implementation of these and other on-farm projects that improve water and soil quality.

Cost-share is provided to landowners implementing best management practices (BMPs) designed to protect water and soil quality, control the impacts of livestock nutrients on the environment or other potential resource concerns.  Projects are ranked according to the water quality, soil & water savings and other resource concerns.

Depending on the project and if funding is available it might be a good option to consider.
To apply for or discuss your project and available  options, please contact our office for more information.

Drip Irrigation
Rill / Ditch Irrigation

Fire Wise/Fire Recovery Program

The Fire Recovery Program was created by the Legislature and is administered by Washington State Conservation Commission to assist landowners and cooperators recover losses to natural resources and agriculture that occur during wildfires.

Cost-Share assistance projects to landowners that may be funded under the Fire Recovery Program:

  • Irrigation Delivery System Repair

  • Livestock Fence Replacement

  • Planting/Erosion Control

  • Slope Stabilization



Conservation Districts will work with local landowners to identify fire related losses and recommend one or more projects for recovery. Proposed practices are submitted to the Conservation Commission for cost-share approval. Once approved, the Conservation District will work with landowners to implement the practices.


The Firewise Program is available to those landowners wishing to implement recommendations from a fire risk assessment. Eligible activities include:

  • Reduce fuels by tree thinning, pruning, and chipping

  • Conduct homeowner/landowner fire risk assessment & implementation

  • Install signs to mark evacuation routes and help responders find homes.

  • Outreach & education to new and existing “Firewise Communities”


Heritage Gardens

Heritage Gardens are landscaped areas designed to honor the cultural and natural heritage of the Columbia River Basin while utilizing sustainable gardening practices.


Heritage Gardens:​​

  • Promote the use of native plants especially those of cultural significance;

  • Promote low-water use landscaping & efficient irrigation methods; and

  • Educate our community about the history and biodiversity of the Columbia River Basin


​The Heritage Garden Program is brought to our community by Benton Conservation Districts in partnership with the South Yakima Conservation District. For assistance with developing your own Heritage Garden contact us. 

Funding for Heritage Gardens in Yakima County is provided by a grant from the Washington State Department of Ecology through the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan’s Municipal Subgroup.


Heritage Garden Website:


Heritage Garden Facebook Page:


Livestock Programs

The NPDES program regulates the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) are point sources, as defined by the CWA [Section 502(14)]. To be considered a CAFO, a facility must first be defined as an Animal Feeding Operation (AFO).

Animal Feeding Operations (AFOs) are agricultural operations where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. AFOs generally congregate animals, feed, manure, dead animals, and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures. Animal waste and wastewater can enter water bodies from spills or breaks of waste storage structures (due to accidents or excessive rain), and non-agricultural application of manure to crop land.

AFOs that meet the regulatory definition of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) have the potential of being regulated under the NPDES permitting program.  A CAFO is only put under the NPDES permitting program if they have violated the CWA by discharging contaminants to waters of the state.


No-Till Seed Drill Rental Program

Both drills are extremely popular during spring and fall, so call early to reserve.

Call 509-829-9025 to schedule or for more information on our drills.

Aitchison Grass Rancher

This drill is intended for seeding directly into existing pastures/crop fields. It is 9' feet 3" inches wide with a 7'-foot planting width and approximately 6"-inch row spacing.


  • A charge of $10 per acre + $100 refundable damage deposit is required. Minimum rental charge is $10.

  • A standard 2” ball is needed to haul it behind a ½ ton pickup. You will need a 40-50 hp tractor to pull the drill, a Class 2 hitch for road towing, and your tractor’s three-point connection in the field.

  • This drill is not appropriate for use in rocky ground.


Great Plains 1006NT

The row spacing is 7.5” with the ability to plant three different seeds (small seeds, native grass seeds, and regular seeds) at one time. The drill is equipped with its own meter for accurate seeding rates. It’s equipped with disc coulters to slice residue and loosen compacted soil; double disk openers create the perfect seed trench.


  • A min. 75 hp Tractor is required with rear hydraulic remotes.

  • The drill has safety lighting for a high level of visibility and safety during transport.

  • The rental rate for the Great Plains drill is $20 per acre plus a $200 refundable deposit. Mimimum rental charge of $25.

Great Plains 3P606NT

The drill is 6' feet wide with a planting width of 5' feet 7" inches and 7.5"-inch row spacing. It is equipped with a regular seed box and a small seed box, an acre meter. It also has disc coulters to loosen compacted soil and double disc openers. This drill is intended for seeding tight spaces, ideal for planting cover crops in orchards and vineyards.

  • Requires minimum 60+ HP Tractor with a three-point connection.

  • The rental rate is $15 per acre plus a $150 refundable damage deposit. Minimum rental charge is $15.

  • We are working on getting a trailer fabricated to allow renters to haul the drill down the road. Until then, renters will need to pick the drill up with their tractor and haul it with their own trailer.

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Voluntary Stewardship Program


What is the Voluntary Stewardship Program?

The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a non-regulatory approach for complying with state requirements to protect critical areas (Revised Code of Washington [RCW] 36.70A.030) on agricultural lands. Yakima County is one of the 29 counties across the state that opted in to participate in the VSP process. The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a new approach for counties to participate in a watershed-based, collaborative stewardship planning process. VSP uses incentives to promote agricultural and environmental stewardship. The program passed into Washington law in 2011 (ESHB 1886) as the result of an ongoing effort to advance common goals for environmental protection and agricultural viability using regulation as a last resort.


South Yakima and VSP

The South Yakima Conservation District has been designated as the lead entity to manage The Lower Yakima County’s Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP). As the lead entity, SYCD is responsible for education and outreach, conservation practice documentation, and landowner assistance.

Instead of enacting further critical areas regulations on agricultural lands, the VSP provides an alternative approach to protecting critical areas by enacting voluntary measures while promoting agriculture in the Lower Yakima County. The VSP allows landowners to develop voluntary, site-specific stewardship plans to protect critical areas on agricultural lands while maintaining and enhancing the viability of agriculture.

Who is affected?

Yakima County landowners utilizing their property for agricultural purposes may be affected if any of the five designated critical areas are located on their property. 

Five Types of Critical Areas:

  1. Wetlands

  2. Critical aquifer recharge areas

  3. Fish and wildlife habitat

  4. Frequently flooded areas

  5. Geologically hazardous areas

South Yakima Conservation District will assist landowners with determining if critical areas are present on their property.

Learn More and Participate

South Yakima Conservation District (SYCD) will provide the following services to interested landowners:

  • A site map of your property showing any critical areas that are present

  • A checklist where landowners can indicate desired practices they would like to implement, practices currently being implemented or have been completed after July 2011. SYCD can discuss availability of technical assistance and potential cost-share funding for future practice implementation.


Success of VSP

Measurable benchmarks must be met to prevent failure of the work plan. Failure of the plan will trigger the traditional regulatory approach to critical area protection under the County’s Critical Areas Ordinance process. The VSP was enacted on July 22, 2011, and this is the date for “baseline conditions”. This means all benchmarks and goals are based on changes since that date. 

Measuring Success

One way the district can measure the success of the plan and show proof of performance is through the documentation of conservation practices on agricultural lands with critical areas since the July 22, 2011. Yakima County’s VSP Work Group was tasked with determining measurable benchmarks to gauge success of the program.  The benchmarks are based on critical area conditions on the effective date of legislation, July 22, 2011 and are divided based upon the three main watersheds in the county: Upper Yakima, Lower Yakima, and Rock-Glade.

Next Steps for Landowners

  1. Find out if you have any critical areas located on your land. South Yakima Conservation District can provide landowners with a map and additional information about the critical areas on their property. Yakima County has additional information on their website  at:

  2. Even if you don’t have critical areas, SYCD is still interested in conservation practices you may be all ready or plan on implementing. In addition to the practices listed, other practices that protect critical areas directly or indirectly and maintain or improve agricultural viability will be considered for credit. 

  3. Landowners interested in participating are encouraged to contact South Yakima Conservation District. There may be cost-share available to help implement new practices to protect and enhance critical areas. 


If you would like assistance completing the VSP checklist please contact us directly to make arrangements. SYCD would be glad to help you with your property and resource concerns and to make the Voluntary Stewardship Program a success.


Irrigation Management Program


Irrigation Water Management (IWM) is the practice of monitoring and managing the rate,

volume, and timing of water application according to the seasonal crop needs, giving

consideration to the soil intake and water holding capacities. Soil moisture should be

managed to obtain optimum yields, without deep percolation losses or runoff.

Irrigation water management will help irrigators determine the effectiveness of irrigation

practices, make good water management decisions, and justify making irrigation adjustment

in existing systems. Tools are available to assist the landowner with irrigation water


  • “Checkbook” method to monitor and balance soil moisture in irrigated cropland.

  • Flow meters to record instantaneous flow rates and total volume usage.

  • Soil moisture meters and sensors to monitor soil water deficit.

  • Soil moisture data loggers to record soil moisture history throughout the growing season.

Irrigated lands of Lower Yakima County contain many coarse to fine textured soils with small to medium amounts of organic matter. These soils have low to high water holding capacities that can allow rapid movement of excess water down through the soil profile. Irrigation Water Management is one of the keys to water resource conservation and enhanced water quality outcomes.

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Drip Irrigated Corn

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Rill (Ditch) Irrigated Corn


Pivot Irrigation


Wheel Line Irrigation

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Soil Moisture Monitoring

Hansen AMS 400 Data Logger


Aqua Trac Lite With Wireless Transmitter

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A good simple method of determining soil
moisture is the feel test.

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