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Conservation Activity Plans

Conservation Activity Plans- New Mexico 2016 CAP fund account

What Is A Conservation Activity Plan?

NRCS encourages private individuals and businesses with conservation expertise to provide technical assistance on behalf of NRCS.  These private individuals and businesses demonstrate their technical expertise to NRCS and are registered as approved NRCS Technical Service Providers (TSP’s).  TSP’s can work with agricultural producers to develop Conservation Activity Plans or CAP’s that identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. The CAP’s can be specific to certain kinds of land use such as:

  • Cropland transitioning to organic

  • Rangeland

  • Forestland

A CAP can also address a resource need, such excess nutrients in surface or groundwater, or weeds that are resistant to herbicides.   A CAP provides site-specific information on how to address the resource concern. After a CAP is developed, producers can choose to apply for EQIP financial assistance to implement the practices specified in the CAP.

How are CAP’s Developed and Paid For?

EQIP eligibility requirements, application deadlines and how to apply for EQIP are described at the New Mexico EQIP Homepage.

Producers interested in a conservation activity plan must first work with their local NRCS office to develop an EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations that identifies resources concerns on the farm or ranch and the corresponding CAP’s to address the resource concerns.  Producers must submit an EQIP application and complete all the eligibility requirements. Producers must identify a Technical Service Provider (TSP) who is certified to develop the CAP.  If a TSP is available, then the producer may proceed with requesting an EQIP contract which provides financial assistance to pay the TSP for the development of the conservation activity plan.  It is important for producers to make sure that a TSP does not start work until the EQIP contract is approved.

NRCS will not pay for TSP services if the TSP starts working on a CAP prior to approval of an EQIP contract.

Once NRCS obligates funds for the development of a CAP the TSP may start work.  The contract participant must choose the TSP if more than one is available.  NRCS will not assist in selecting a TSP, in developing the CAP, provide tax advice or be involved with any agreement between the TSP and the contract participant.  NRCS will approve payment for a contracted CAP after confirming that the CAP was prepared according to specified criteria for the CAP.  The contract participant will receive an IRS Form 1099 that shows that NRCS made a payment to the contract participant.  The contract participant may request that payment for the CAP be sent by direct deposit to the TSP; however, the payment will still be reported to the IRS as having been made to the contract participant.

How Do I Find a Technical Service Provider?

Information about Technical Service Providers on the NRCS national TechReg website includes:

  • CAP services provided by certified TSPs

  • finding a TSP in your State

  • how to be to become a certified Technical Service Provider

What are the Program Requirements for CAP’s?

A CAP developed by a TSP must meet the NRCS technical requirements and planning criteria for each CAP.  These are listed in each State's Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) in Section III found at FOTG County Locator page and on the FY 2016 EQIP Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) National website.

The CAP is required to include all the fields in the operation that have similar management and resource concerns.  NRCS will identify whether more than one CAP is justified for the operation when developing the EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations. 

A field can only be enrolled in one CAP at a time.  Once the CAP is completed then the field may be enrolled in another CAP that has been identified on the EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations.  The exception to the rule of one-CAP-at-a-time exists for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP) and Agricultural Energy Management Plans (AgEMP) which can be contracted at the same time as another CAP.

For funding of certain conservation practices, NRCS may require the development of CAP’s or prioritize funding for applications that have a completed CAP.  This is the case for Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans, Forest Management Plans and Agricultural Energy Management Plans.

The following are the Conservation Activity Plans offered in New Mexico:

Practice Code

Conservation Activity Plan Name

General Description


Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (CNMP)

A comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is a conservation plan for an animal feeding operation (AFO) that documents how nutrients and contaminants will be managed in the production and land treatment areas of the farm to protect animal and human health and the environment.


Nutrient Management Plan (NMP)

Nutrient management plans are documents of record of how nutrients will be managed for plant production and to address the environmental concerns related to the offsite movement of nutrients from agricultural fields.


Forest Management Plan (FMP)

A forest management plan is a site-specific plan developed for a client, which addresses one or more resource concerns on land where forestry-related conservation activities or practices will be planned and applied.


Feed Management Plan

A feed management plan is a farm-specific documented plan developed for a client who addresses manipulation and control of the quantity and quality of available nutrients, feedstuffs, and/or additives fed to livestock and poultry.


Grazing Management Plan

A grazing management plan is a site-specific plan, developed with a client to address one or more resource concerns on land where grazing-related activities or practices will be applied.


Prescribed Burning Plan

A prescribed burning plan is a site-specific plan developed with a client that addresses one or more resource concerns on land through the use of fire.


Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated pest management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based strategy to mitigate the risks associated with pest management activities in a sustainable approach to manage pests using a combination of techniques such as chemical tools, biological control, habitat manipulation, and modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties.


Irrigation Water Management Plan (IWMP)

The objective of irrigation water management (IWM) is to control the volume, frequency, and rate of water for efficient irrigation. Measurements of soil moisture, plant water use, and climate provide feedback to decide when to irrigate, and how much water to apply.


Agriculture Energy Management Plan (AgEMP)

The objective of an agricultural energy management plan (AgEMP) is a detailed documentation and inventory of the energy consuming activities and components of the current agricultural operation. The plan will document a typical prior year of on-farm energy consumption, and the strategy by which the producer will explore and prioritize their on-farm energy conservation concerns, objectives, and opportunities.


Drainage Water Management Plan

The objective of drainage water management (DWM) is to control soil water table elevations and the timing of water discharges from subsurface or surface agricultural drainage systems, allowing the opportunity for crop use of the subsurface water and nutrients.


Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition

A “Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition” is a resource inventory with recommended practices to address the resource concerns that will assist the producer to develop an organic systems plan. The resource inventory and recommended practices will also serve to assist NRCS or a qualified TSP develop a conservation plan with the producer, if requested.


Fish and Wildlife Habitat Plan

A fish and wildlife habitat plan is a site-specific plan developed with a client who is ready to plan and implement conservation activities or practices with consideration for fish and wildlife habitat.


Pollinator Habitat Plan

A pollinator habitat enhancement plan is a site-specific conservation plan developed for a client that addresses the improvement, restoration, enhancement, expansion of flower-rich habitat that supports native and/or managed pollinators.


IPM Herbicide Resistant Weed Conservation Plan

Integrated pest management herbicide resistance weed conservation plan is a plan with emphasis on modifying herbicide use for suppressing weeds on cropland.

Payment Rates for CAPS

NRCS payment rates for 2016 CAPS:  2016 CAP payment schedule

Producer Responsibilities

  • Complete the EQIP application form NRCS-CPA-1200, submit by the application deadline and understand the requirements in the EQIP Appendix.

  • Request technical assistance from NRCS for the development of an EQIP Conservation Plan/Schedule of Operations.

  • Identify a Technical Service Provider available and certified to develop the CAP.

  • Make sure the Technical Service Provider does not start work until NRCS approves a contract for the CAP.

  • Once NRCS approves and obligates the funds, make sure the TSP completes the CAP within 12 months.

  • Make sure the TSP completes the CAP according to the technical criteria specified by NRCS.

  • Inform NRCS of completion of the CAP and request payment.

  • Pay the TSP according to terms set with the TSP and report the income to the IRS as required.

  • Make a good faith effort to implement the recommendations in the CAP.

For more responsibilities go to Participant Responsibility Webpage.

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