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Conservation Planning  We Care About Conservation

Conservation Planning:  We Care About Conservation

AZ NRCS and AZ’s Conservation Districts Partner in Conservation Planning Campaign

PHOENIX, Jan. 17, 2012:  The Arizona Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has partnered with Arizona’s Conservation Districts in a conservation planning campaign. Conservation planning is the fundamental starting point for maintaining and improving the natural resources that support agricultural production and the lifestyle we love and enjoy. Arizona NRCS and Arizona’s Conservation Districts care about conservation and are here to help agricultural producers conserve the resources and the lifestyle they love for future generations.

Conservation Planning - Overview

NRCS Arizona is making an extra effort to show Arizona agricultural producers how conservation planning can help your land's natural resources. We are encouraging farmers and ranchers to request help developing a conservation plan. Creating a conservation plan is a free service from our experts in conserving water, improving air quality, and reducing soil erosion. It’s your plan to use as you wish – a guide to using your natural resources more efficiently.

Agricultural producers can request technical assistance and develop a conservation plan at any time. NRCS Arizona is emphasizing our mission of providing science-based conservation assistance for the management of natural resources for present and future generations. We also would like to highlight farms and ranches - and the farmers and ranchers who make the work happen - through our website and other promotional opportunities.

For more information, contact your local NRCS Arizona office, or call 602-280-8823 or 602-280-8806.

Conservation Planning Application (PDF)

Conservation Planning - What is it?

Phase 1: Collection and Analysis

Conservation planning is a fundamental starting point for maintaining and improving the natural resources that support a productive and profitable agricultural operation. Whether it’s a large scale ranching operation or a small acreage hobby farm, conservation planning is an important — and voluntary — first step that owners and operators can take to meet their land management goals.

Certified conservation planners with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and local conservation districts can provide planning assistance to help agricultural producers identify options that provide the greatest conservation benefit while meeting production goals.

A conservation plan combines the farming or ranching skills of the operator with the science-based knowledge of the conservation planner.  The plan is developed with input from the producer and prepared by NRCS.  It’s a written record of the management decisions and the conservation practices that are in use or planned for that operation.

A conservation plan is a confidential document, and no person or agency other than NRCS has access to it without written authorization. A conservation plan may also help farmers and ranchers:

  • prepare for agricultural certifications and  regulatory requirements

  • become eligible for funding from Farm Bill programs managed by NRCS

  • work with and become eligible for programs from Farm Services Agency, Rural Development, and other federal and state agencies.

At the outset of the conservation planning process, a farmer or rancher begins by identifying overall conservation and production goals for the operation. A key part of the process includes evaluating existing conditions, including land cover, land uses, field operations, and natural resource concerns. The Conservation Records packet is a series of worksheets developed to help landowners collect and record information about cropping systems, conservation work, field operations, and more.

Phase 2:  Decision Support - Identifying  Solutions

Every operation has its own unique characteristics. Just as the success of any farm or ranch includes many different yet interdependent factors, the success of the conservation effort also depends on incorporation of multiple and interrelated land treatments. These may include a variety of structural practices, cropping systems, operational decisions, and other activities.

During the second phase of the planning process, land managers carefully consider soil conservation, water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and energy conservation treatments that would contribute to an environmentally and economically sustainable farm or ranch. Your conservation planner from NRCS or another entity can help you identify options that may be right for you and your operation.

The combination of different treatments that work together to address the overall natural resource needs on a farm or ranch is called a conservation system, or a resource management system (RMS). Conservation systems are sets of land treatments that, when properly planned and applied, work in tandem to provide the greatest overall conservation and production benefits. When designing an overall conservation system, land managers must consider all of the resources and activities on the land. This guide was developed to provide some of the preliminary information land managers need as they consider a variety of conservation options.

Phase 3:  Application & Evaluation – Applying Conservation on the Land

After developing a conservation plan and selecting the options most appropriate for you and your land, a strategy is developed to put your plan into action and get conservation on the ground.

During this last phase, producers install or begin to implement their chosen treatments. Some people may choose to seek conservation program funding or further technical assistance through local, state or federal sources. NRCS and other entities may be able to help with practice design and cost of installation.  Millions of dollars is assistance is available through Farm Bill programs.

Contact your local NRCS Arizona office to learn more.

Success Stories:

A New Perspective at the Sands Ranch

A New Perspective:  Sisters Keep Their Grandfather's Legacy Alive at the Sands Ranch

Sisters, Marilyn Harris and Kathy Williams own the Sands Ranch, a cow-calf operation on 100 sections of private, state, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and Pima county lands in Whetstone, Arizona.  It is unique to see women own and manage a full ranching enterprise and when asked what about the ranch they like most, Marilyn replied, “For me it is our heritage and the love for livestock and the land. Our grandfather had a vision and I want to help carry that out. It is about keeping a legacy alive”...


The Anvil Ranch, ranching for generations.

Looking to the Past to Better Conserve the Future:  The Anvil Ranch – Ranching for Generations

The Anvil Ranch dates back to the 1890’s.  Owners John and Pat King share with pride the history and legacy the ranch has carried for four generations.  “The long term history of the ranch is interesting and carries great value,” said Joe King, youngest of John and Pat King’s children and fourth generation rancher.  “We know what the ranch was like before us and what it is capable of being. Ranching is what we do.  I don’t know any other way.” ...


Conservation of Family, Lifestyle and the Land:  Arizona Farmer puts conservation in action

Conservation runs through the life of Tedd Haas – conservation of family, lifestyle, and the land. “I have always had a spot for conservation because I believe in stewardship of the resources God has provided us with,” said Tedd. “You like and love the land. You earn your income that way, and you take care of it. It becomes a part of you.” ...

Technical Resources:

We care about soil health

Managing Soil Salinity in Agriculture

It is projected that the world’s population will expand to over 8.5 billion by 2025.  To keep up with this growth agricultural production must increase by up to 50 percent.  The increase in agricultural production is expected to be met by these three ways:  1) increase in average yields, 2) increase cropping intensity (double or triple cropping fields), and 3) increase the amount of arable land.  It is estimated that the potential arable land in the world is over 8,000 million acres of which 46 percent or 3,700 million acres are currently farmed.



Controlling Dust to Improve Air Quality: Focus Resource Concern for May 2012

Dust consists of particles, in the atmosphere, that come from various sources such as soil that is lifted by wind (such as our Haboobs-an unfortunate reality of our arid environment), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust is comprised of various sized particles from sand grains that can pit your car’s windshield to particles that you cannot see. Particles that are not seen include the PM10 and PM2.5 sized particles.


We care about plant productivity, function and structure.

Improving Plant Community: Focus Resource Concern for April 2012

Improving plant community productivity, structure and function is a resource concern which occurs across all of our land uses in Arizona. When referring to plant communities, productivity pertains to the weight of plant production as compared to what is expected for a healthy site. Structure refers to whether or not all of the representative plant types that would be expected on a healthy site are present. 


Reduce nutrients in surface and ground water.

Reduce Nutrients in Surface and Ground Water: Focus Resource Concern for March 2012

Proper use of nutrients, organic or inorganic types, is a conservation priority in Arizona.  Managing nutrients properly involves applying them in the correct amount, from the proper source, with appropriate placement, and at the appropriate time.  This is basically the 4 R’s of nutrient management—right rate, right source, right place, and right time.  Implementing the 4 R’s will help ensure fertilizer applications meet the crop yield objectives and minimize the potential for nutrients to degrade water supplies (surface and groundwater) and air quality.  To apply nutrients properly there a few things you need to know.


Reliable water is critical to a livestock operation.

Reliable Livestock Water:  Focus Resource Concern for February 2012

Providing livestock easy access to a reliable source of clean, fresh water at all times is necessary in order for a livestock operation to be productive. NRCS has several stockwater system practices that are designed to efficiently provide reliable water to livestock and wildlife and successfully allow for the implementation of a grazing management system.


Improving Irrigation Water Use Efficiency:  Focus Resource Concern for January 2012

Wise use of irrigation water is one of our highest conservation priorities in Arizona. Irrigation water management is used to apply the amount of water needed, when it is needed by the crop. To improve irrigation efficiency on your farm, there are four things you need to know.