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Conservation Practice Standards

Conservation Practice Standards

NRCS conservation practice standards provide guidance for applying conservation technology on the land and set the minimum level for acceptable application of the technology.

NRCS issues National conservation practice standards in its National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP). National standards for each practice are available. 

National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP)

  • NHCP Notices – Updated or new National conservation practice standards are transmitted by notices to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices. Copies of the most recent NHCP notices are available.

  • National Conservation Practice Standards – The current National conservation practice standards are available, both as MS-Word documents and in PDF format.

NOTE:  National Conservation Practice Standards should not be used to plan, design or install a conservation practice.  You must have the conservation practice standard developed by the state in which you are working to insure that you meet all state and local criteria, which may be more restrictive than national criteria.

State Conservation Practice Standards

Each state determines which National conservation practice standards are applicable in their state.  States add the technical detail needed to effectively use the standards at the Field Office level, and issue them as state conservation practice standards.  State conservation practice standards may be found in Section IV of the eFOTG (Electronic Field Office Technical Guide).

Conservation Practice Standards Under Revision


NRCS periodically revises existing NHCP standards or develops new standards. A table giving the status of all conservation practice standards currently undergoing revision is located at ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/NHQ/practice-standards/review-status/

Every month a number of draft conservation practice standards are posted for NRCS review and comment. (See Federal Register Review, below, for draft practice standards that are available for review and comment by the general public.) Practice standards currently posted are located at ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/NHQ/practice-standards/standard-development/draft/. These files are in Microsoft Word format.

Federal Register Review
Before revised or new conservation practice standards are added to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices, they are advertised in the Federal Register for review and comment by the general public. All standards currently under Federal Register review are located at ftp://ftp-fc.sc.egov.usda.gov/NHQ/practice-standards/federal-register/