Originally established by Congress in 1935 as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), NRCS has expanded to become a conservation leader for all natural resources, ensuring private lands are conserved, restored, and more resilient to environmental challenges, like climate change.
Seventy percent of the land in the United States is privately owned, making stewardship by private landowners absolutely critical to the health of our Nation’s environment.
NRCS works with landowners through conservation planning and assistance designed to benefit the soil, water, air, plants, and animals that result in productive lands and healthy ecosystems.
More About Iowa NRCS
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) works through county soil and water conservation districts to protect and improve natural resources across the state.
Our main programs include:
Conservation Technical Assistance
Through our network of 100 field offices, NRCS staff provides technical assistance to the state's landowners, farmers, communities, groups and other agencies to help them protect and conserve the states natural resources including soil, water and wildlife habitat. Iowa NRCS employs many specialists—from soil scientists to wildlife biologists—to ensure the state's landowners have access to reliable and proven technical information. Technical assistance includes natural resource inventories and assessments, and assistance in developing and implementing conservation plans for private lands.
Most NRCS soil conservationists have completed a training and testing process, certifying them as professional conservation planners.
More than two of every three Iowa landowners has what is termed by NRCS as highly erodible land. The NRCS works with more than 70,000 farmers to carry out the conservation work outlined in more than 130,000 conservation compliance plans.
Core 4 is a common-sense approach to improving farm profitability while addressing environmental concerns. The approach is easily adaptable to virtually any farming situation and can be fine-tuned to meet farmers' unique needs. The net result is better soil, cleaner water, greater on-farm profits, and a brighter future for all of us. NRCS partners with the Conservation Technology Information Center to bring this program to Iowa's farmers and landowners.
The NRCS administers the Wetland Reserve Program aimed at returning wetland areas that have been cropped to wetland conditions. The Emergency Wetland Reserve also worked to place permanent easements on land that has a flood history. The land is returned to wetland conditions. Wetland determination and mitigation assistance is provided for USDA wetland compliance programs.
Everyday resource management work the NRCS undertakes--such as planning for soil conservation, water management, and better woodlands and grasslands--contributes to better water quality. In addition, NRCS is involved in nearly 100 water quality projects around the state.
Resource Conservation and Development
Iowa NRCS has 17 RC&D areas. Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) projects are helping communities across the state improve their economic base through training, pilot programs, seed money, and guidance. NRCS funds one or two staff in an RC&D office, and the RC&D council, made up of local representatives, is responsible for developing projects and getting funds to carry out the projects. For a list of RC&D offices, click here.
NRCS provides soils information for public use. Builders, farmers, developers, environmentalists and engineers are among those interested in soils data. See the Soils section for more information about Iowa soil.
NRCS helps urban and rural communities develop and improve water and land resources in watersheds up to 250,000 acres. Conservation measures in flood-torn Iowa substantially reduced damage to land, crops, roads and other public facilities.