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technical service providers

Technical Service Providers

Technical service providers (TSPs) work on behalf of the customer to offer planning, design, and implementation services that meets NRCS criteria.  This assistance helps improve the producer's operation and addresses resource concerns on their land. 

TSPs include individuals, private businesses, American Indian tribes, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies.

TSPs expand the number and availability of conservation technical experts capable of offering customized, one-on-one conservation advice to agricultural producers.

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Who Can Use a TSP?

When funds are available, agricultural producers participating in certain activities in NRCS conservation programs can hire a TSP within the 50 states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.  As a producer, you will need to work with your local NRCS office staff to make application for Financial Assistance and have an obligated contract prior to hiring a TSP.  NOTE: Producers may also choose to pay for services from qualified individuals at their own expense.

NRCS reimburses the producer at a contracted rate established by the program the participation is participating in. The maximum rates for technical services are available in the most recent State Payment Schedule.

What Technical Service Activities are Offered?

TSP conservation work falls into two broad categories:

  • planning, design and implementation of conservation practices
  • conservation planning activities

Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can use conservation planning to address specific natural resource objectives such as nutrient and pest management, forestry, energy conservation, or transitioning to organic agriculture.

Participants in NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) may be eligible to receive financial assistance to work with TSPs to develop conservation planning activity plans or to plan, design and implement individual or group of conservation practices. Only certified TSPs can assist with the development of conservation planning activities.

If approved for an EQIP contract that includes TSP services, the participant chooses a TSP from an NRCS-approved list and negotiates payment for the selected TSP’s services. Once technical services are completed, the TSP provides documentation and an invoice to the participant who then provides the documentation (invoices) and/or notification of completion to NRCS for certification and reimbursement.

How Do You Locate a TSP?

Eligible NRCS conservation program participants can locate a certified TSP through the NRCS Registry national directory for finding a TSP Program participants also can contact their local USDA service center.


Should You Become a Technical Service Provider?

Individuals, private businesses, American Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and public agencies are eligible to become Technical Service Providers (TSPs).

Here are tips to help you determine whether you qualify to become a TSP and to help you better understand the TSP process:

  • Read more about the TSP process and the expertise NRCS is seeking on behalf of its program participants below under benefits.
  • Determine the TSP-oriented tasks you would like to do based on two broad categories—
    • planning, designing, and implementing conservation practices through participation in Farm Bill programs (including 900 series funds); or
    • development of conservation planning activities (CPAs) to address specific natural resource challenges.
  • Inventory your qualifications including education and professional licenses you currently hold. Make sure you include any additional requirements needed by state, local or tribal laws or regulations.
  • Contact your Regional TSP Coordinator for additional information to help you determine whether to become a TSP.

TSPs can learn more about conservation practices at Conservation Planning Activities (CPAs), Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs), and Conservation Evaluation and Monitoring Activities (CEMAs).

Effective with any new Fiscal Year 2023 participant contract, TSPs providing Design and Implementation Activities (DIAs) to TSPs will be required to meet the following:

The participant and conservation planner have determined which practices a TSP will provide DIA assistance for. The TSP must have certification in NRCS Registry for each practice they will provide assistance for through this DIA. If not certified for a practice(s), a TSP can use a subcontractor who is a certified TSP for the practice(s). If there are no available certified TSPs, then that practice shall be removed from the scope of the participant’s DIA.

TSPs certified for DIAs are considered to be providing final designs and therefore should meet the qualifications under the individual conservation practices for which they are adding to the DIA and providing design work for.  

NOTE: in the case a TSP must subcontract work, this would be a private cooperative agreement between the TSPs’ with regard to payment for services. 

For TSPs already certified for a DIA, but not for individual practices typical of the DIA, TSPs should consider submitting a modification of their certification agreement to pick up practices they are currently not certified for in NRCS Registry. For example, if a customer should contract you to complete a DIA that encompasses three practices, but you are only certified for one of the three there are a few options. 

  1. You may choose to apply for the two additional practices to be added to your certification in NRCS Registry or 
  2. sub-contract those practices out to another certified TSP or TSP Business who is certified for those practices. 
  3. As a last option you may choose to inform the customer that you are unable to provide the service and at that time, they must contact NRCS in order to potentially remove the item from their contract.  

What is NRCS’s Online TSP Registry?

NRCS Registry allows individuals seeking TSP certification to begin the application process and once certified to maintain and renew their certification.  NRCS Registry also allows agricultural producers and private forest landowners to locate a certified TSP in their local area.  


Benefits of the TSP Program

How can NRCS benefit from using TSPs?

Offering technical services through an approved third party like a TSP ensures:

  • NRCS conservation program participants have additional options to access technical services;
  • quality conservation work by vetted and trained professionals; and
  • personalized, one-on-one assistance to meet the needs of your conservation efforts.

How can farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners benefit from using TSPs?

Farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners often use TSPs to address specific natural resource goals such as:

  • developing nutrient management plans;
  • developing sustainable forestry plans;
  • developing grazing management plans;
  • increasing irrigation efficiency; and
  • transitioning from traditional agriculture to organic.

How do individuals benefit from becoming a TSP?

TSPs can help producers address natural resource concerns in diverse areas, including nutrient management, energy use, forestry, grazing, irrigation, organic agriculture and wildlife habitat. They also provide conservation planning services, design and implementation activities, and conservation evaluation and monitoring.

TSPs are certified to provide technical service activities according to NRCS standards and specifications for conservation activities. TSPs work on behalf of NRCS, so they maintain the confidentiality of the agricultural producers they help.  In addition, TSPs can help farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners comply with Federal, state, tribal, and local laws and regulations.

Becoming a NRCS TSP?

A full set of instructions can be found here: 

Becoming a TSP (472.06 KB)

Step 1: Make a Plan

Before you apply to become a TSP, you must determine the services you want to offer NRCS program participants and whether you have the necessary skills, abilities, licenses, certifications, and other qualifications to provide services based on Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) standards and specifications as well as certification criteria.  You will also need to investigate any state laws which may apply to the activities and practices for which you wish to become certified.

It is highly encouraged to contact your regional TSP coordinator to gain an understanding of what types of assistance their program participants need to help address the resource concerns on their property.  The regional coordinators have a wealth of knowledge to help you along this journey to becoming a TSP.  A map of regional coordinators can be found here: 

Once you have evaluated your own qualifications to become a TSP, you must follow the steps outlined here.  The TSP certification process includes required training and verification of education, knowledge, skills and abilities. Visit the Additional Resources page for links to NRCS Registry User Guides and Videos. 

Step 2: Create Your USDA Verified Account

To get started becoming a TSP, individuals will need to sign up for a verified USDA account (formerly eAuthentication account or Level 2).

For a set of detailed instructions, please visit this document:  

Becoming a TSP (472.06 KB)

If you are already a USDA customer (a Technical Service Provider, for example), linking your eAuth account to the new account is necessary.  Instructions may be found in the attached document under “Linking Your Account”.

Step 3: Verify your Identity – Authentication Methods requires a one-time multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts. Account holders must set-up a secondary authentication method in addition to your password. For example, a one-time code can be sent to your phone or authentication app at each login.

For a set of detailed instructions, please visit this document:

Becoming a TSP (472.06 KB)

Step 4: Logging into NRCS Registry

NRCS uses an online system called NRCS Registry to accept, approve and manage TSP applications and certifications.  This system will track a TSPs Licenses, trainings, work experience, and all other items required for certification.

For a set of detailed instructions, please visit this document:

Becoming a TSP (472.06 KB)

Contact the NRCS Registry Help Desk if you have problems accessing the NRCS Registry.

Step 5: TSP Training Requirements – Requesting an AgLearn Account

Training is a critical component of the TSP certification process. NRCS offers an expansive list of training opportunities for new TSP applicants and certified TSPs. NRCS offers courses through the Agricultural Learning Service (AgLearn) and the USDA Science and Technology Library.

To register for an AgLearn account:

  1. Obtain a Verified account.
  2. Log into NRCS Registry and start an application to obtain a TSP number.
  3. Complete the required "AgLearn Account Request Form" found here.
  1. Email required forms to  to request an AgLearn
  2. Once you have been notified your AgLearn account has been created, you may log into AgLearn and enroll in courses required for certification.

Visit the AgLearn website.

All TSP applicants seeking TSP certification to provide technical services to eligible NRCS program participants must also complete the TSP Orientation and Conservation Planning Course (Course ID#NRCS-NEDC-000191) and the Introduction to Field Office Technical Guide (Course ID# NRCS-NEDC-000149).

STEP 6: Obtaining TSP Certification

Upon submission of your application NRCS has 60 days to review the information provided, verify your credentials and samples of work and make a decision on your application.  Upon approval you will be certified for a period of three years and your information will be added to the NRCS Registry Find a TSP look up. 

If your application is deferred, you will receive a notice detailing the issues that caused the deferment and the steps needed to address the issues. You will have the option to resubmit the application for review after you address the issues.  Samples of work may be reviewed up to three times before deferment.  If there are noted deficiencies with your sample of work it is important to work with the state discipline experts to resolve any issues prior to resubmitting your application for further consideration.

Business Registrations for Technical Service Providers

Businesses are defined as private businesses, American Indian tribes, non-profit organizations, and public agencies. A business profile and application must be created and maintained by an Official Business Representative (OBR) or the individual authorized by the business to make decisions on its behalf.   The OBR must apply for and maintain a USDA Verified eAuth account, but the OBR does not need to be a certified TSP.  In order for the business to apply and become certified, the business must have at least one certified TSP always associated with the business. The OBR must be able to legally sign the Certification Agreement on behalf of the business.  Certified businesses must maintain a current certification agreement and are posted on the NRCS Registry Find a TSP look up.

Note: A business entity cannot register for a USDA eAuth account. Only individuals known as the Official Business Representative can register for a Verified eAuth account.

For Official Business Representatives Who Do Not Plan to Work as a TSP:

  • Log into NRCS Registry 
  • Click the New Business Profile Tab to create a business profile
  • Follow the business application instructions in the Business/Agency Profile. You can submit the application from the Business/Agency Profile screen by clicking the Sign Agreement button only once.

For Official Business Representatives Who Plan to Work as TSPs:

  • Log into NRCS Registry
  • Follow the process above to become a TSP first
  • Complete the business registration.
  • Navigate to the TSP Associations sub tab and click Add TSP following the rest of the directions.

Note: For detailed directions, visit the User Guide for Business Certification found under "Additional Resources"


Additional Information

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