NRCS began its fight against erosion as the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) back in 1935. Today, NRCS continues to work to protect and enhance our precious natural resources by working one-on-one with private landowners and community leaders to put conservation on the ground in Illinois.
NRCS puts more than 84 years of experience to work in assisting owners of America's private land with conserving their soil, water, and other natural resources. Local, state and federal agencies and policymakers also rely on our expertise. We deliver technical assistance based on sound science and suited to a customer's specific needs. Cost share and financial incentives are available in some cases. Most work is done with local partners. Our partnership with local Soil and Water Conservation Districts and other partners is essential. Participation in NRCS programs is voluntary. With small teams of technical specialists in nearly every Illinois county, assistance from a conservation professional is just a phone call away!
The Illinois News and Publications webpage has press releases, success stories, and PDF versions of many of our brochures and fact sheets.
The Illinois Ecological Sciences webpage covers the following topics: insects/pollinators, forestry, agronomy, biology, cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, manure management, nutrient management, and pest management.
The Illinois Engineering webpage has videos of constructing engineering practices and a link to the e-FOTG (Field Office Technical Guide), where the engineering technical documents, drawings, and software are now available.
The Illinois Plant webpage covers a variety of topics such as invasive species, identification, the Illinois Native Plant Guide, and the Plant Materials Garden at the State Office.
The Illinois Grazing webpage has several resources and a learning section with the Illinois Grazing Manual and fence building specifications.
The Illinois Soil Health webpage has soil tech notes, soil health success stories, cover crop economics, and educator resources including a soil video game.
The Illinois Urban Agriculture webpage links to the Illinois Urban Manual.
State Programs and Initiatives
State Payment Schedule
NRCS provides financial assistance for selected conservation practices. The availability and amount of financial assistance can vary between states.
Civil Rights Committee
The National Civil Rights Advisory Committee to the Chief (NCRACC) is designed to provide management officials and employees with counsel and advice to enhance and ensure compliance with their equal employment opportunity and program delivery responsibilities.
State Technical Committee
State Technical Committees serve in an advisory capacity to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the implementation of the natural resources conservation provisions of Farm Bill legislation.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.