The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) is for producers who want to take their conservation efforts to the next level. Most CSP applicants have already applied conservation practices to their land. Through CSP, producers can further improve their conservation efforts with conservation activities called “enhancements.”
Enhancements allow a producer to address additional levels of conservation beyond what the minimum conservation practice standard requires. CSP applicants work one-on-one with their NRCS conservation planner to select enhancements that best fit their management goals and will address resource concerns on the enrolled land.
Through CSP, producers can choose from approximately 140 enhancements to address resource concerns on their operation. Conservation practice standards and quality criteria for resource concerns can be found in sections II and III of the Field Office Technical Guide.
For more information on producer-specific enhancements, please visit Enhancement Factsheets
CSP applicants who want to increase their conservation stewardship even further may consider “bundles” of enhancement activities. Some enhancements work together to provide increased conservation benefits when they are implemented as a group. Producers may consider adopting these enhancement groups or “bundles” on their operation.
Each bundle has three or more required enhancements, and for some bundles, the applicant has the option to pick additional enhancements from a select list that addresses specific resource concerns.
Bundles have enhancements grouped according to land use – crop, pasture, range and forest. They are also grouped as agency initiatives, such as Long Leaf Pine, Mississippi River Basin, Buffers and Working Lands for Wildlife. Bundles receive a higher level of financial assistance to encourage the holistic approach to generate additional conservation benefits.
Producers interested in implementing enhancements or bundles on their property can visit with their local NRCS conservation planner to learn more about them.
Enhancements and Bundles
Supplemental Activity Payments
Supplemental activity payments are also available to CSP participants who wish to further adopt resource conserving crop rotations, improve an existing resource conserving crop rotation and/or implement advanced grazing management enhancements on their land.
Advanced grazing management uses a combination of grazing conservation activities that can include management-intensive rotational grazing for improved soil health and carbon sequestration, drought resilience, wildlife and pollinator habitat and wildfire mitigation. AGA activities can also include the control of invasive plants and water quality improvement.
Resource conserving crop rotation includes at least one state-determined resource conserving crop that reduces erosion, improves soil fertility and tilth, interrupts pest cycles, builds soil organic matter, maintains soil moisture while reducing the need for irrigation in applicable areas, and can provide pollinator habitat and protection.
Improved resource conserving crop rotation further boosts an existing resource conserving crop rotation by either including an additional growing year for a state-determined perennial resource conserving crop, substituting a state-determined perennial resource conserving crop for a row crop, or changing a perennial legume to a state-determined perennial grass or grass/legume resource conserving crop.
The 2018 Farm Bill includes a new conservation activity for producers to develop a comprehensive conservation plan (CCP) as part of their CSP contract. A CCP is a conservation plan that meets or exceeds the stewardship threshold for each priority resource concern identified by NRCS across all land uses included in the operation. NRCS administers CCPs like the conservation activity plans (CAPs) under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and requires producers to use a technical service provider (TSP) to develop the plan.