Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dry livestock tanks show the effect of drought in Schulenberg, TX on Aug. 23, 2013. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Air Quality Initiative


The NRCS National Air Quality Initiative helps agricultural producers meet air quality compliance requirements by providing technical and financial assistance for improving agricultural operations.

About the National Air Quality Initiative

The National Air Quality Initiative assists with the adoption of conservation practices through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to help improve air quality through reducing dust and carbon emissions. This Initiative sets aside funding in select states to help advance the adoption of these practices. 

Examples of the National Air Quality Initiative

The key practices funded through the Initiative vary by state, depending on the natural resource concerns there. For example, in Oregon the focus is on Hood River County where smudge pots (oil-burning orchard heaters) are still used for frost protection in the numerous apple and pear orchards in the county. NRCS is providing financial assistance to eliminate use of smudge pots, and these heaters are being replaced by much lower emitting frost protection systems (typically propane heaters or wind machines). The Combustion System Improvement (number 372) conservation practice is being used for this purpose.

In Texas, the focus is on dust control, primarily in arid western counties where a mixture of practices such as conservation cover, cover crops, residue and tillage management, and prescribed grazing are being utilized to reduce wind erosion and particulate matter problems.


Download a list of NAQI approved practices for FY16 and their relative effectiveness in managing various air emissions.

Ready to make air quality practices part of your operation? Check out Apply for EQIP.

Additional Information

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

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

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.