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Profile of soil


America’s vitality is rooted in the soil. Today, private landowners across the country are partnering with NRCS to conserve and improve soil. Additionally, NRCS is also a leader in soil science, playing a pivotal role in classifying and mapping soils as part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey. 

NRCS is also strongly rooted in soil, as the agency was born as the Soil Conservation Service in 1935 during the Dust Bowl, a time of eroded topsoil and fierce dust storms. Since then, conserving and studying soil is at the forefront of what we do. More on NRCS history.

NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help producers plan and implement conservation practices that prevent soil erosion and degradation and improve soil health.  

When soil issues arise, they can have long-term and costly impacts to soil health and production goals. If your land has soil issues, you can explore further with the Conservation Concerns Tool on

Examples of Soil Practices

Range Planting

Heavy Use Area Protection

Additional Conservation at Work videos and conservation practice standards are available. If you’re interested in assistance with these practices, contact your local NRCS office. 

Sydnee Lockett (left) talks to Amy Surburg about her farming operation at Berry Goods Farm in Indiana.

Soil Health

Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. It's key to productive agriculture.

Image showing layers in the soil.

Soil Science

NRCS also supports mapping and classification of the nation's soils, including managing the Web Soil Survey and many other resources. 

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.

how to get started

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 number.

If you don’t have a farm 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 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. View Application Ranking Dates by State.

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.

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