Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Cows in pasture feeding on grass

Environmental Quality Incentives Program - Oklahoma

The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offers technical and financial assistance for working lands, including field crops, specialty crops, organic, confined livestock and grazing, and non-industrial private forest land.

Ranking Criteria for NRCS Programs – Fiscal Year 2024

Application Overview

Any applicant may submit an application for participation in ACEP, EQIP, CSP, or RCPP. The NRCS State Conservationist or Area Director, in consultation with stakeholders including the State Technical Committee, Tribal Conservation Advisory Councils, and Local Work Groups, has developed the following ranking criteria to prioritize and select applications that best address the applicable program purposes and priority natural resource concerns in Oklahoma.

The NRCS State Conservationist or Area Director will establish application batching periods and select the highest ranked applications for funding, based on applicant eligibility and the NRCS ranking process. In Fiscal Year 2024, NRCS will use its Conservation Assessment Ranking Tool (CART) to assess and rank all eligible applications for NRCS conservation programs. 

Inventory and Assessment in CART

CART is a decision support system designed to provide a consistent, replicable framework for the conservation planning process based on geospatially referenced information, client-provided information, field observations, and NRCS conservation planner expertise. CART is designed to assist NRCS conservation planners as they assess site vulnerability and existing conditions, and identify natural resource concerns on a unit of land.

In CART, assessments of existing management and conservation efforts are compared against conservation planning criteria thresholds to determine the level of conservation effort needed to address identified natural resource concerns.  The results are then used to inform NRCS conservation planning activities for the client. NRCS also uses CART to consolidate resource data and program information to prioritize program delivery and report outcomes of NRCS investments in conservation.

In general, resource concerns fall into one of three categories for the assessment method used in CART to assess and document a resource concern:

  • Client Input/Planner Observation: A streamlined list of options is presented to the planner to document the client input and/or planner observation of the resource concerns present. These observations are compared to the conservation planning criteria thresholds.
  • Procedural/Deductive: A large group of resource concerns fall into this category and are assessed using a resource concern-specific tool or a list of inventory-like criteria. Due to variability in State tools, assessment questions and answers will be broad in nature to allow States to more carefully align them with State conditions. 
  • Predictive: The remaining resource concerns are assessed using a predictive interactive model simulation. The CART systems attempt to replicate the outcomes related to the assessment threshold being met or not compared to the model outputs.

After identifying resource concerns and describing existing conditions, planned conservation practices and activities can be added to the existing condition to determine the state of the proposed management system. Supporting practices that are needed to support primary conservation practices and activities are also identified, but do not add conservation management points to the total.

If the client is interested in financial assistance through an NRCS conservation program, the inventory and assessment information, along with client decisions related to conservation practice adoption, are directly and consistently transferred from the assessment portion of CART to the ranking portion of CART.  Based on the transferred assessment information and the conservation practices proposed for implementation, CART identifies the appropriate program ranking pool(s).

Ranking in CART

In general, NRCS program ranking criteria uses the following guiding principles:

  • Degree of cost-effectiveness of the proposed conservation practices and activities;
  • The level of performance of proposed conservation practices and activities;
  • Treatment of multiple resource concerns or national priority resource concerns;
  • Magnitude of the environmental benefits resulting from the treatment of resource concerns reflecting the level of performance of proposed conservation practices and activities; and
  • Compliance with Federal, State, local or tribal regulatory requirements with regards to natural resources.

CART uses a set of National Ranking Templates developed for each NRCS program and initiative. The National Ranking Templates contain four parameters that are customized for each program to reflect the national level ranking criteria. The four parameters are:

  1. Land Uses - NRCS has developed land use designations to be used by planners and modelers at the field and landscape level. Land use modifiers more accurately define the land’s actual use and provide another level of specificity and help denote how the land is managed. Land use designations and modifiers are defined in Title 180, National Planning Procedures Handbook, Part 600.
  2. Resource Concerns - An expected degradation of the soil, water, air, plant, or animal resource base to the extent that the sustainability or intended use of the resource is impaired. Because NRCS quantifies or describes resource concerns as part of a comprehensive conservation planning process, that includes client objectives, human and energy resources are considered components of the resource base.
  3. Practices - A specific treatment used to address resource concerns, such as structural or vegetative measures, or management techniques, which are planned and implemented in accordance with applicable standards and specifications.
  4. Ranking Component Weights – A set of five components comprise the ranking score for an individual land-based assessment. The five components are:
    1. Vulnerability - Site vulnerability is determined by subtracting the existing condition and existing practice scores from the thresholds. This score is weighted by ranking pool to address the resource concerns prioritized by that ranking pool.
    2. Planned Practice Effects - The planned practice effect score is based on the sum of the planned practice on that land unit which addresses the resource concern. This score is weighted by ranking pool to address the resource concerns prioritized by that ranking pool.
    3. Resource Priorities - National and State resource priorities are established to address the most critical land and resource considerations and are based on NRCS national and State priorities identified with input from National, State, and local stakeholders. 
    4. Program Priorities - National and State program priorities are established to maximize program effectiveness and advance program purposes and are based on NRCS national and State priorities identified with input from National, State, and local stakeholders. 
    5. Cost Efficiency – Summation of ‘Planned Practice Points’ divided by the log of the ‘Average Practice Cost’. 

NOTE: The points for vulnerability, planned practice effects, and cost efficiency are garnered from the assessment portion of CART.

Oklahoma created State-specific ranking pools within the above-described National Ranking Template parameters. The State ranking pools contain a set of questions that are divided into the following sections – applicability, category, program questions, and resource questions. Ranking pool customization allows States to focus funding on priority resource concerns and initiatives identified at the State level with input from NRCS stakeholders.  Each eligible application may be considered for funding in all applicable ranking pools by program.  


NRCS Resource Concerns

The following table lists the 47 Resource Concerns NRCS uses during the Conservation Planning process.


  1. Sheet and rill erosion
  2. Wind erosion
  3. Ephemeral gully erosion
  4. Classic gully erosion
  5. Bank erosion from streams, shorelines, or water conveyance channels
  6. Subsidence
  7. Compaction
  8. Organic matter depletion
  9. Concentration of salts or other chemicals
  10. Soil organism habitat loss or degradation
  11. Aggregate instability


  1. Ponding and flooding
  2. Seasonal high-water table
  3. Seeps
  4. Drifted snow
  5. Surface water depletion
  6. Groundwater depletion
  7. Naturally available moisture use
  8. Inefficient irrigation water use
  9. Nutrients transported to surface water
  10. Nutrients transported to groundwater
  11. Pesticides transported to surface water
  12. Pesticides transported to groundwater
  13. Pathogens and chemicals from manure, biosolids, or compost applications
  14. transported to surface water
  15. Pathogens and chemicals from manure, biosolids, or compost applications
  16. transported to groundwater
  17. Salts transported to surface water
  18. Salts transported to groundwater
  19. Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to surface water
  20. Petroleum, heavy metals, and other pollutants transported to groundwater
  21. Sediment transported to surface water
  22. Elevated water temperature


  1. Emissions of particulate matter (PM) and PM precursors
  2. Emissions of greenhouse gasses (GHGs)
  3. Emissions of ozone precursors
  4. Objectionable odors
  5. Emissions of airborne reactive nitrogen


  1. Plant productivity and health
  2. Plant structure and composition
  3. Plant pest pressure
  4. Wildfire hazard from biomass accumulation


  1. Terrestrial habitat for wildlife and invertebrates
  2. Aquatic habitat for fish and other organisms
  3. Feed and forage imbalance
  4. Inadequate livestock shelter
  5. Inadequate livestock water quantity, quality and distribution


  1. Energy efficiency of equipment and facilities
  2. Energy efficiency of farming/ranching practices and field operations


Program-Specific Information

Oklahoma’s EQIP Priority Resource Concerns for FY2024:

  • Degraded Plant Condition
  • Soil Quality Limitations
  • Pest Pressure
  • Wind and Water Erosion
  • Field Sediment, Nutrient, and Pathogen Loss

The 3 ranking pools that will utilize ACT NOW will be:

  • ACT NOW IRA Soil Health - ranking score of 116 or higher
  • ACT NOW IRA Grass Planting - ranking score of 116 or higher 
  • ACT NOW High Tunnel System (Non-IRA Pool) - ranking score of 138 or higher

Reach out to your local NRCS office for specific information related to ACT NOW.  

All applications must be received by March 1, 2024 to be considered for funding in FY2024.

Applications selected for funding will be funded prior to the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2024.


Please contact your local office to sign up for EQIP.  

  • Dustin Stoner
    EQIP Program Manager

Find Your Local Service Center

USDA Service Centers are locations where you can connect with Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or Rural Development employees for your business needs. Enter your state and county below to find your local service center and agency offices. If this locator does not work in your browser, please visit