Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Fencing protects a pond from livestock damage on pasture land in Taylor County, Iowa.

Regional Conservation Partnership Program - Iowa


The Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) promotes coordination of NRCS conservation activities with partners that offer value-added contributions to expand our collective ability to address on-farm, watershed, and regional natural resource concerns.

Through RCPP, NRCS seeks to co-invest with partners to implement projects that demonstrate innovative solutions to conservation challenges and provide measurable improvements and outcomes tied to the resource concerns they seek to address.


Partner Eligibility

Eligible organizations interested in partnering with NRCS on conservation projects can develop applications for the RCPP competition. The lead partner for an RCPP project is the entity that submits an application, and if selected for an award is ultimately responsible for collaborating with NRCS to successfully complete an RCPP project.

See the RCPP funding announcement for details about what types of organizations are eligible to apply.  

Producer and Landowner Eligibility

Once NRCS selects a project and executes an RCPP agreement with a lead partner, agricultural producers may participate in an RCPP project in one of two ways. First, producers may engage with project partners and delegate a willing partner to act as their representative in working with NRCS. Second, producers seeking to carry out conservation activities consistent with a RCPP project in the project’s geographic area can apply directly to NRCS.

Land Eligibility

RCPP projects must be carried out on agricultural or nonindustrial private forest land or associated land on which NRCS determines an eligible activity would help achieve conservation benefits (i.e., improved condition of natural resources resulting from implementation of conservation activities).

Eligible conservation activities may be implemented on public lands when those activities will benefit eligible lands as determined by NRCS and are included in the scope of an approved RCPP project.

2024 RCPP Sign-Up

NRCS accepts applications for RCPP on a continuous basis. We announce signup cutoff deadlines as funds become available. For Fiscal Year 2024, the first application cutoff date for new RCPP contracts was Nov. 3, 2023. The next application cutoff for FY24 applications is April 5, 2024.

RCPP Classic Projects

RCPP Alternative Funding Arrangements (AFA)

Iowa RCPP Projects - Selected 2024

Project: Protection and Restoration of Grasslands in Iowa
Lead Partner: Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
NRCS Funding Amount: $22,987,805
Partner Contributions: $14,380,000

The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation will restore 10,000 acres of grassland and protect approximately 8,000 acres with entity-held conservation easements in a 40-county area of western and southern Iowa. The Protection and Restoration of Grasslands in Iowa will emphasize targeting the nationally recognized Loess Hills Landform, a Grassland of Special Environmental Significance.

Project: Protect Rathbun Lake
Lead Partner: Rathbun Land and Water Alliance
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,712,954
Partner Contributions: $3,854,800

The Protect Rathbun Lake project’s goal is to reduce the sediment and sediment-bound phosphorus loads that cause water quality impairments in Rathbun Lake. Specifically, the objectives are the reduction in annual sediment load to the lake by 66,590 tons and the reduction in annual phosphorus load to the lake by 65,250 pounds. The Rathbun Land and Water Alliance will leverage RCPP and partner funding to address resource concerns related to soil erosion, soil quality, livestock production, aquatic habitat, and greenhouse gases. The project goal and objectives will be achieved by comple􀀁ng the land management and land rental activities to be carried out during the initial five-year implementation period of the new Rathbun Lake Watershed Management and Source Water Protection Plan (2023). Rathbun Lake is the source of water for Rathbun Regional Water Association’s (RRWA) water treatment plants. RRWA is the largest rural water system in Iowa. Rathbun Lake also provides recreational opportunities for one million visitors annually, downstream flood damage reduction, and fish and wildlife habitat in the lake and on adjacent public land. The lake’s watershed covers 354,000 acres. 

Project: Scott County Iowa Working Lands for Resilient Communities
Lead Partner: Ducks Unlimited, Inc.
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,000,000
Partner Contributions: $3,193,875

Ducks Unlimited, through the Scot County Iow Working Lands for Resilient Communities project will install Climate SMART conservation practices such as in field and edge of field wetland restoration to improve water availability (flood and drought), water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. A “batch and build” concept will be used to expedite installation of conservation practices that require engineering support (e.g., saturated buffers) benefiting multiple producer operations within Scott County. Benchmark and post treatment data from local monitoring stations will support models such as the Water Erosion Prediction Project and HydroGeoSphere to report peak flow and nutrient loss reduction and carbon sequestration outcomes.

Project: Cover Crop and Water Quality Program
Lead Partner: Growmark, Inc.
NRCS Funding Amount: $4,573,171
Partner Contributions: $6,507,695

The Cover Crop and Water Quality Program aims to remove cover crop implementation barriers faced by growers. Growmark Inc and other partners will source the seed, plant, manage and terminate the cover crops on behalf of busy producers. The project will use proprietary satellite imagery and analytics monitor the crops from planting to harvest and identify nitrogen deficiencies and other issues impacting cover crops implementation, as well as quantify carbon sequestration and nitrous oxide emissions reductions.

Project: Connecting Wildlife Habitat by Integrating Conservation Corridors on Working Lands
Lead Partner: Iowa Wildlife Federation
NRCS Funding Amount: $3,739,800
Partner Contributions: $565,500

Iowa Wildlife Federation will work to connect existing wildlife habitat, especially those that are of high value but disconnected from each other, to create wildlife corridors for all species with a special emphasis on pollinators and monarch buterflies. The project will convert 1500 acres of working lands into prairie and 100 acres into wetlands and micro wetlands. This will integrate working lands into the Iowa State Wildlife Action Plan.

Iowa RCPP Projects - Selected 2023

Project: Iowa Climate Smart Switchgrass Cropping System Transition
Lead Partner: FDC Enterprises, Inc.
NRCS Funding Amount: $7,071,429
Partner Contributions: $14,160,000

The Iowa Climate Smart Switchgrass Cropping System Transition project aims to Improve carbon sequestration, soil health, and reduce nutrient runoff while also improving profit on farms in southern Iowa by developing a Climate Smart Switchgrass Cropping System (CSSGCS). Project objectives include: (1) transition 5000 acres of sensitive traditional row crow agriculture in areas in greated need of soil erosion control and water quality, (2) sequester soil carbon up to 1.79 tons per acre per year, (3) increase farmer net income per acre by 15%, (4) demonstrate effectiveness of CSSGCS, and build a long-term CSSGCS market for emerging erosion control products.

Project: Iowa Working Lands Conservation Partnership
Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
NRCS Funding Amount: $5,844,145
Partner Contributions: $5,519,550

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will expand and build upon successful locally-led efforts working collaboratively with cattle farmers to increase the resilience of their operations and improve conservation outcomes. Implemented through the use of precision ag and conservation planning tools, project partners plan to measure success by modeling reductions in nitrogen, phosphorus, and carbon equivalents within the project area. Project goals include planting over 200,000 acres of cover crops, 10,000 acres of extended rotations, 10,000 acres of forage and biomass planting, 100 grade stabilization structures, and implementation of associated support practices.

Project: West Nishnabotna Water Quality and Infrastructure Partnership
Lead Partner: Golden Hills Resource Conservation & Development
NRCS Funding Amount: $4,600,000
Partner Contributions: $4,705,000

The West Nishnabotna Water Quality and Infrastructure Partnership aims to improve water quality, increase flood resiliency, and protect local infrastructure across a 681,000-acre project area in southwestern Iowa. The project will complement similar activity on private lands in service of making the landscape more resilient in the face of increasing catastrophic flooding events. The partnership will report project outcomes through monitoring and modeling of soil and nutrient loss reductions.

Iowa RCPP Projects - Selected 2022

Project: Iowa Conservation Agriculture (Renewal)
Lead Partner: Allamakee Soil and Water Conservation District
NRCS Funding Amount: $292,000
Partner Contributions: $377,400

The Allamakee County Soil and Water Conservation District will specifically target the implementation of cover crops and no-till in conjunction with manure application, the conversion of marginal cropland to pasture, and the addition of a small grain crop to a corn-soybean system, preferably with the inclusion of cover crops in the rotation. These practices will help to minimize soil erosion and nutrient/pesticide runoff.

Project: Iowa Partners for Natural Infrastructure
Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
NRCS Funding Amount: $7.5 million
Partner Contributions: $14.8 million

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) project will support the implementation of multiple objective, natural infrastructure-based conservation practices in priority watersheds/areas within a 35 county area of Iowa. The project will collaborate to improve outreach and expand landowner participation to deploy these practices utilizing an innovative, “batch and build” and/or “single fiscal agent” model.

Iowa RCPP Projects - Selected 2021

Project: Cedar River Source Water Partnership
Lead Partner: City of Cedar Rapids
NRCS Funding Amount: $9,497,786
Partner Contributions: $12,347,150

The Cedar River Source Water Partnership (CRSWP) is a collaboration among communities and agricultural partners to improve water quality, mitigate the risk of flooding, and improve habitat for fish and wildlife. Project partners plan to target middle and late adopters of conservation practices by engaging with ag retailers and independent agronomists. Land O'Lakes' Truterra Insights Engine will be used to estimate the project's conservation and economic outcomes.

Project: Floyd River Water Quality Partnership
Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
NRCS Funding Amount: $3,200,000
Partner Contributions: $3,360,000

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will address water quality in a 577,000-acre watershed by helping farmers plant cover crops and implement nutrient management practices. Coordinated on-farm partnerships with input suppliers, farmers, and the livestock industry will deliver integrated grazing and edge-of-field practices demonstrations. USDA's Agricultural Conservation Planning Framework tool will be used to target project activities to critical lands.

Project: SE Iowa Watershed Partnership
Lead Partner: SE Iowa Watershed Partnership
NRCS Funding Amount: $9,090,909
Partner Contributions: $12,757,577

The SE Iowa Watershed Partnership, composed of 20 partner organizations, will accelerate adoption of nutrient management and mitigation practices and systems in 15 counties. The project supports the goals of Iowa's Nutrient Reduction Strategy and will use RCPP flexibilities to offer a range of incentives to attract producer adoption. Project partners will tailor targeting plans for priority locations based on existing data and analyses.

Iowa RCPP Projects - Selected 2020

Project Name: Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership (Renewal)

Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance
Funding Amount: $9.5 Million
Partner Funding Amount: $38 Million

The Midwest Agriculture Water Quality Partnership has assembled over forty partners and $38 Million in non-federal funds to build an innovative public-private collaboration aimed at advancing a science-based, non-regulatory approach to reducing nutrient loss and improving water quality, soil health and habitat for at-risk species. The partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders from multiple sectors committed to improving water quality in alignment with the goals of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy. The geographic focus is Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska, with an emphasis on priority watersheds within Iowa.

Participating Counties
Buena Vista, Pocahontas, Sac, Calhoun, Webster, Hamilton, Hardin, Carroll, Greene, Boone, Story, Marshall, Guthrie, Dallas, Polk, Jasper, Adair, Madison, Warren, Marion, Mahaska, Keokuk, Clarke, Lucas, Worth, Mitchell, Floyd, Chickasaw, Franklin, Butler, Bremer, Grundy, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Tama, Benton and Linn.

Project: Soil and Water Outcomes Fund 2021/2022
Lead Partner: Ag Technology and Environmental Stewardship Foundation
NRCS Funding Amount: $8,970,130
Partner Contributions: $3,740,000

The Soil and Water Outcomes project will expand the implementation of on-farm conservation practices that create both water quality and carbon sequestration outcomes by making pay for performance payments to participating producers for independently verified environmental outcomes. The goal is to utilize a pay for performance approach to achieve significant conservation outcomes during the project period.

Project: North Raccoon Partnership for Soil and Water
Lead Partner: Iowa Soybean Association (12 Partners)
NRCS Funding Amount: $9,804,703
Partner Contributions: $16,024,022

Iowa Soybean Association, in collaboration with a diverse set of partners including ag retailers, Federal and State agencies and the City of Des Moines, will take a watershed approach to improving soil health and water quality in a high-profile watershed located in central Iowa. The partnership will take an innovative approach of deploying conservation staff in ag retailer locations to minimize barriers to producer participation. Targeted practices include no-till, cover crops, denitrifying bioreactors, saturated buffers and wetland restoration.

Project: Turkey River Watershed Partnership Project
Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
NRCS Funding Amount: $3,000,000
Partner Contributions: $3,903,085

The Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship will deliver a comprehensive outreach, planning and implementation approach to spur the long-term adoption of management and structural practices to reduce water quality degradation in the Turkey River Watershed. The project partners estimate that producer efforts under the project will keep in reductions of almost 400,000 pounds of nitrogen and over 11,000 pounds of phosphorus out of local waterways.

Project: Iowa Systems Approach to Conservation Drainage
Lead Partner: Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship
NRCS Funding Amount: $10,000,000
Partner Contributions: $22,537,913 

The Iowa Systems Approach to Conservation Drainage (ISACD) project brings together a diverse partnership (including PepsiCo, Heartland Co-op, the Nature Conservancy and Nutrien Ag Solutions) to demonstrate a systems approach to improved farm profitability and sustainability on some of the most intenstively farmed land in Iowa. The project supports implementation of the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy (NRS) and aims to help producers plant nearly 150,000 acres of cover crops and install 50 denitrifying bioreactors and saturated wetlands, among other water quality, flood control and source water protection practices.

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.