TSSH Part 610

Conservation Practice Standards

Background (610.00)

This section covers the contributions of the resource soil scientist (RSS) to Conservation Practice Standards (CPS) during the process of development, review, and approval. Conservation practice standards need to be reviewed and maintained regularly to ensure that they remain current with rapid changes in technology and that they address multiple resources.

Information about soil is required for all agency conservation programs and most conservation practices. When a standard is developed at the state, regional, or national level, considerations for soils and their effects related to that practice need to be part of the development and review process as the standard is being approved for application by the agency. All conservation practice standards need to be reviewed by soil scientists at the state, regional, and/or national level to ensure that the soil-related issues are addressed where applicable.

Resource soil scientists at every level should take the initiative to review all applicable standards for soils considerations. Comments and recommendations should be submitted through the State staff to the National Leader for Technical Soil Services (NLTSS).

As an integral part of the CPS review, the Conservation Practice Physical Effects must also be reviewed. It is recommended that selected other effects also be reviewed from a soils perspective.

Each State has developed conservation practice standards to ensure that all State and local criteria are met. These criteria may be more restrictive than national criteria. States are encouraged to maintain documentation files on standards for which the criteria are more stringent than the national criteria. During the developmental or review process, soil scientists and professionals in other disciplines can and should contribute by providing information and helping to ensure that the practice standards are addressing multiple resource concerns.

Contribution of soil scientists to conservation practice standards (State level) (610.01)

The State Technical Guide Committees should follow guidelines in General Manual policy title 450, part 402, sub-part B, and Chapter 1 of the National Handbook of Conservation Practices (NHCP) for development and maintenance of practice standards. Each State Conservationist is ultimately responsible for the process in his or her State. Multidisciplinary contributions should occur during the process; however, States are encouraged to follow the guidelines outlined in the NHCP for developing or reviewing practice standards. Multidisciplinary contributions should occur during the process.

When the State discipline specialist has developed a draft proposed interim conservation practice standard, the soil scientist needs to review, as a minimum, the practice standard sections “Conditions Where Practice Applies” and “Considerations.” In most cases, these are the sections in which soil-related entries are made.

Comments should be provided to the State discipline specialist or the State Technical Guide Committee for consideration. This review should be performed before a copy of the interim conservation practice standard is submitted to the Chair of the National Conservation Practice Standards Subcommittee (NCPSS) for a practice code number. A copy should be submitted to the resource soil scientist in the appropriate National Technology Support Center (NTSC) and to the NLTSS

Chapter 1 of the NHCP (exhibits 2 and 6) provides detailed methods involved in the process of developing, reviewing, and approving interim and national conservation practice standards.

Activities of soil scientists at regional or national centers and at National Headquarters (610.02)

As members of the NHCP committee, the NLTSS and the resource soil scientists have opportunities to review the national conservation practice standards that are currently being reviewed and revised and are aware of the status. In some cases, specific conservation practice standards are discussed with committee members of other disciplines to provide the geographical area perspective based on feedback from State Soil Scientists and resource soil scientists. These soil scientists also send soil-related comments to the Practice Standards Review Coordinator (PSRC) for standards that require soils information that has been omitted. Input is welcomed by resource soil scientists and State Soil Scientists at the State level on selected practices and geographical areas.

Exhibit 7 in the NHCP provides detailed information on the development team’s procedure and information that will benefit resource soil scientists related to interdisciplinary working groups. The NLTSS and NTSC Resource Soil Scientists are part of the NHCP and represent a broad geographical area. This representation ensures that the conservation practice standards are compatible across disciplines and are national in scope. The NLTSS and resource soil scientists are on a distribution list to receive draft standards that are posted to the FTP server for reviews. When the NTSC Resource Soil Scientists and the NLTSS receive the set of practice standards, they will send selected practices to specific soil scientists for local perspective and input as appropriate. Any soil scientist may request to be added to the distribution list to receive draft conservation practice standards. A request can be submitted to the PSRC at

The NTSC Resource Soil Scientists are responsible for developing, maintaining, and enhancing soils-related aspects of conservation practice standards. At the developmental and revision stage, these soil scientists and the NLTSS can obtain input from NRCS State, Center, and cooperating scientists and forward comments to the PSRC. Each State or other administrative unit is encouraged to consolidate all of the comments from that State or unit before submission to the NTSC RSS.

Reference (610.03)

National Handbook of Conservation Practices.
(450-VI-NHCP, September 2001) 1–9
(450-VI-NHCP, November 2001) 1–3