Skip Navigation

EQIP - General 2014

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Key Practices for General Funding

February 2014

Since 1996, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) has helped farmers address resource concerns on private land. EQIP, NRCS’ principal program for delivering conservation technical and financial assistance to those who need it most, supports the needs of all agricultural operations, offering ideas, science-based solutions, and guidance for successful and sustainable conservation farms. Just select and install any of the practices described below--and many others--once you develop a conservation plan designed to address your specific resource concerns. EQIP solves problems for farmers.

Photo of Grassed WaterwayGrassed Waterway (Conservation Practice Standard 412)
A Grassed Waterway is a natural or constructed channel shaped or graded to required dimensions and established with suitable vegetation. This practice may be applied as part of a conservation system to support one or more of the following onsite needs:

1. Move water runoff from terraces, diversions, or other concentrated water flows, without causing erosion or flooding,
2. Reduce or prevent ephemeral gully erosion, and
3. Protect and improve water quality.


rock chuteGrade Stabilization Structure (Conservation Practice Standard 410)
Grade Stabilization Structures stabilize the grade and control erosion in naturalstreambanks or artificial channels. These structures help prevent formation of gullies, enhance environmental quality, and reduce pollution hazards. Conditions where this practice can be applied include areas where the concentration and flow velocity of water require structures to stabilize the grade in channels or to control gully erosion. Specific size and site conditions may require various design options, such as use of a pipe structure, concrete drop structure, rock or block chute, or metal toe wall.



Photo of TerraceTerrace (Conservation Practice Standard 600)
A Terrace is an earth embankment, or a combination ridge and channel constructed across the field slope. This practices may be applied as part of a resource management system to reduce soil erosion. The practice applies where:

1. Soil erosion by water is a problem,
2. Excess water runoff is a concern,
3. Soils and topography permit reasonable terrace construction and farming operations and efforts, and
4. A suitable water outlet can be provided.


Spraying liquid manure on fieldNutrient Management (Conservation Practice Standard 590)
Nutrient Management addresses the rate, form, timing, and placement of organic and inorganic nutrients. The purpose is to adequately supply soils and plants the nutrients they need to produce food, forage, and fiber and at the same time, minimize nutrient losses from fields and protect surface and ground water supplies. Properly applied, these practices combined with others can:

1. Budget, supply, and conserve nutrients for plant production;
2. Minimize agricultural nonpoint source pollution of surface and groundwater resources;
3. Use manure or organic by-products as a plant nutrient source;
4. Protect air quality by reducing odors, nitrogen emissions (ammonia, oxides of nitrogen), and formation of atmospheric particulates; and
5. Maintain and improve physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil.

drainage water managementDrainage Water Management DWM (Conservation Practice Standard 554)
DWM offers a way to control the flow from surface and/or subsurface agricultural
drainage systems on flat farmland--typically land with 1% slope or less. By developing
a DWM Plan and adjusting stop log blocks in a water control structure (Conservation
Practice 587), farmers can raise or lower their water table to meet field needs. When
properly managed, DWM can:

• Improve water quality                • Reduce wind erosion
• Save nutrients in the field           • Provide seasonal wildlife habitat
• Improve yields • Improve soil health

cover cropCover Crop (Conservation Practice Standard 340)
Cover Crops, established, grown, and terminated in between primary commodity crops, typically include grasses, legumes, and forbs. They offer year-round vegetation cover and live root growth, which provide conservation benefits to improve soil health. Select species, seeding rates and depth using the Illinois Cover Crop Selection Tool. Use either single or a mix of species to achieve site goals. Terminate cover crops by harvest, frost, mowing, tillage, crimping or herbicides. Properly managed, they can:

• Reduce erosion                                         • Increase soil organic matter content
• Capture, recycle, redistribute nutrients        • Increase biodiversity
• Promote biological nitrogen fixation             • Reduce energy use
• Suppress weed growth                               • Increase soil water-holding capacity
• Minimize and reduce soil compaction

Photo of crop residue on corn field.Residue and Tillage Management; No-till/Strip-till, Mulch-till, and Ridge-till (Conservation Practice Standards 329, 345, 346)
Residue Management is a practice that manages the amount, orientation, and distribution of crop and other plant residue on the soil surface year round while reducing soil-disturbing activities. There are four residue management options that include No-Till, Mulch-Till, Ridge-Till, and Strip-Till. These practices may be applied as a part of a conservation system to accomplish one or more of the following objectives:

1. Reduce sheet and rill erosion,
2. Reduce wind erosion,
3. Improve soil organic matter content,
4. Increase soil moisture, and
5. Provide food and cover for wildlife.

water and sediment control basinWater and Sediment Control Basin (Conservation Practice Standard 638)
This practice uses an earth embankment or ridge and channel placed across the slope of minor watercourses. This structure will trap sediment and create a water detention basin with a stable outlet, usually a riser and tile. Basins work well on irregularly sloped ground where gully erosion is a problem and where sheet and rill erosion is already controlled. Basins can function alone or multiple basins can be installed as part of a conservation system. Consult local soil survey for valuable planning information. This practice can:

1. Reduce gully erosion,
2. Trap sediment, and
3. Reduce and manage onsite and downstream runoff.




Helping People Help the Land.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


A Printed Version of this fact sheet is available in Adobe Acrobat

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Key Practices for General Funding
2014EQIPFS_General.pdf (PDF, 2,027 kb)