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2011 Conservation Across California

2011 Conservation Across California

Highlights of California’s Historic Conservation Journey With the Help of the 2008 Farm Bill

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Three Record-Setting Years!

Since the 2008 Farm Bill, farmers and ranchers in California have written a chapter for the history books. Resource Conservation Districts, landowners, partners and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) worked together to set Farm Bill program records in conservation.

  • Most-ever conservation contracts: More than 6,000
  • Most-ever funding for practices: Approximately $330 million
  • A total of $700 million contributed by all parties


More than 1,300 dairies worked with NRCS to improve water quality.
More than 1,300 dairies upgraded their facilities for more than 1.8 million cows to keep manure from contacting surface or ground water sources.

Cleaner Water

More than 1,300 dairies worked with NRCS to improve water quality. These producers are upgrading their facilities for more than 1.8 million cows to keep manure from contacting surface or ground water sources. The milk from those 1.8 million cows helps nourish more than 4.7 million Californians each year. WOW!

More Habitat For Native Pollinators

California’s innovative landowners have added 105 miles of hedgerows - more than half the nation’s total—since 2009. Laid end-to-end, these targeted mixes of wildflowers and shrubs would stretch from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe, acting as a bed and breakfast for more than 1,500 species of native pollinators and other birds and wildlife. NRCS is designing the hedgerows that offer food and shelter for native pollinators and assist domesticated honeybees and offering financial and technical assistance to participating landowners. WOW!

Farmland Forever

In 2011, NRCS California and its partners protected more farmland using voluntary, permanent easements than ever before using the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program. California is second in the Nation for loss of farmland for food, open space, wildlife habitat and much more. While even this historical amount—5,000 acres on 14 farms across 11 counties—is miniscule, each easement connects with other farms to help communities create strategically placed greenbelts directing development away from our best soils. WOW!

New engines run up to 71% cleaner.
Replacing old diesel engines with new engines that run up to 71% cleaner helps cut emissions and improve air quality for all Californians.

Cleaner Air

Farmers and conservationists helped clear the air for Californians. They replaced 1,100 old diesel engines with new engines that run up to 71% cleaner. The emissions reduction was approximately 1,680 tons of NOx emissions - equivalent to taking 500,000 cars off the road! WOW!

Conservation is Inclusive

California’s beginning and underserved farmers are receiving help through the 2008 Farm Bill conservation programs at a rate that has exceeded national goals by 200% or more every year. In 2011 Beginning Farmers and Ranchers received more than 17% of all California conservation contracts, helping meet Secretary Vilsack’s call for 100,000 new farmers nationally over the next few years. WOW!

Efficient Water Use

More than $86 million was invested in efficient irrigation, changing hardware and management on the use of more than 200 billion gallons of water to make every drop count. The changes achieved a 25 percent savings in water use on the average. WOW!

Restoring California’s Wetlands

California’s landowners and partners have transitioned nearly 125,000 acres to easement-protected areas - accounting for more than 25% of all functioning wetlands throughout the State. These wetlands filter the water and offer better flood protection as well as provide much-needed habitat for waterfowl and wildlife, hosting 183 species of birds, including 29 at-risk species. WOW!

Good for the Pocketbook, Land, Air & Water*

Conservation Tillage (CT) has increased in California by 50% since 2004 and in the process is saving soil, money and much more. In 2010, California farmers using CT saved $35 million in operating costs - drops of 30-40 percent - in fuel, equipment and labor. Farmers who use CT make fewer trips across their fields and also leave residue on the soil after harvest. The residue holds moisture in and builds fertile organic matter. WOW!

* Data taken from a survey led by Sustainable Conservation and the Conservation Tillage and Cropping Systems Workgroup.

Related Information

For more information on our record-setting year, watch California NRCS videos on YouTube or download the documents below. For additional information, follow us on Twitter.