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Organic Farming in California

conservation_for_organic_bannerOrganic farming is an ecologically-based system that relies on preventative practices for weed, insect and disease problems, uses nontoxic methods to manage problems if they arise, and improves the natural resources of the land, including soil and water quality.

Organic producers, or producers transitioning to organic, can receive conservation technical assistance and can apply for all NRCS programs.

The following documents require Acrobat Reader offsite link image    .

Success Stories: Learn More About NRCS’ Work With Organic Producers

Conservation Planning is Intrinsic to The Garden of .....   PDF; 625 KB
Fifth Crow Farm: An Ecosystem of Sustainability   PDF; 1.1 MB
New Organic Farmers Find Budgets Not Just for People: Water and Nutrients Need Them Too   PDF; 1.3 MB
Organic Farmers—Experienced or Brand New—Are All Welcome at NRCS (Organic Farmer Magazine, 2019)   PDF; 700 KB
Taking the High Ground and Farming with Nature   PDF; 1.2 MB


Growing Organic booklet Transitioning to Organic fact sheet Assistance for Certified Organic Producers fact sheet
Booklet: Growing Organic (PDF; 5 MB) Fact Sheet: Transitioning to Organic (PDF; 2 MB) Fact Sheet: Assistance for Certified Organic Producers (PDF; 2 MB)
Ask NRCS: A Guide for Organic Producers brochure
Brochure: Ask NRCS: A Guide for Organic Producers (PDF; 3.3 MB)



  • SARE Cover Crop Image Library - The photos in this database are provided for free, non-commercial use by educators working in agriculture and conservation, provided that proper attribution is used (see SARE website for additional details).
  • SARE Soil Health Illustrations - The following illustrations can be used for educational purposes. The illustrations in this gallery are compiled in a set of 20 PowerPoint slides ( download; 44 MB) for use in presentations. Explanatory notes are included in image captions.

National Organic Program

Managed by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, the National Organic Program develops, implements, and administers national organic production, handling, and labeling standards. If you’re wondering whether organic is a good option for your operation, visit the USDA’s Organic Literacy Initiative resources to learn more.

Organic Conservation Planning Resources

Organic Handbook image

Organic Farming Handbook (eDirectives)




Guide for Using RUSLE2 in Organic Systems

R2 and organic cover image

Due to the complex nature of many organic cropping systems, NRCS planners and TSPs may have difficulty using RUSLE2 to calculate soil loss. This new document provides guidance on:

  • How soil loss should be calculated by selecting appropriate tillage operations.
  • Planning in fields with a diversity of crops.
  • Considerations for high tunnels, low tunnels and mulches.
  • Incorporating cover crops in the rotation.
  • Incorporating manure, compost and other soil amendments.

This guide may also be useful in working with non-certified organic clients such as those with diverse or specialty crop operations. For any suggestions on the guide, contact Ben Bowell at

Learn more about RUSLE2 in Organic Systems and read the new guide.

With funding from Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), the following guides were created by Oregon Tilth offsite link image     for use by NRCS staff:

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation offsite link image     has a number of resources related to pollinator habitat assessment and design on organic farms.

The NRCS Organic Initiative Practice List and National Organic Program Rules Matrix (PDF; 52KB) correlates the organic system plan and organic certification requirements with NRCS conservation practices. (Not all practices are appropriate in all areas.)

Information for Technical Service Providers is available at TechReg.

NRCS Organic Agriculture Webinars

Webinars are typically scheduled the first Tuesday of even-numbered months and start at 12 p.m. (Pacific). They are free and participants may earn and continuing education credits and/or training certificates. Live webinars are recorded for later viewing. These webinars are presented in partnership with Oregon Tilth offsite link image    .

Other Webinars

Recipients of an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, The National Center for Appropriate Technology offsite link image       (NCAT) offers webinars offsite link image     on the conservation benefits of crop rotations, pest management and other topics designed to better integrate sustainable and organic agriculture production systems into NRCS planning and programs.

eOrganic offsite link image    , the online extension community focused on organic agriculture, offers additional online training videos.

NRCS EQIP Organic Initiative 

NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Organic Initiative helps producers with conservation on their land and can support National Organic Program standards. Eligible program participants receive financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices, or activities like conservation planning, that address natural resource concerns. Payments are made to participants after conservation practices and activities identified in an EQIP plan of operations are implemented.

NRCS California Organic Contacts

  • Mira Dick, Soil Conservationist, Merced, (209) 205-4980
  • Erica Lundquist, Soil Conservationist, Ukiah, (707) 485-3231
  • Hud Minshew, State Conservation Agronomist, Davis, (530) 792-5659


Updated: 05/19/20