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Conservation Activity Plans

NRCS employees help producers establish buffers with a variety of plants that supplement both wildlife and pollinators.

What Is A Conservation Activity Plan?

A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as:

  • transitioning to organic operations
  • grazing land
  • forest land

A CAP can also address a specific resource need, such nutrient management or a herbicide resistance issue. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices. 

What Authority Does NRCS Have For CAPs?

Farm Bill legislation provides NRCS the authority to use financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for practice payments to develop of plans appropriate for the eligible land of a program participant.  The Act specifically authorizes EQIP to be used for comprehensive nutrient management plans and other plans that further the purposes of the program. The conservation practice associated with plan development under this authority is known as a “Conservation Activity Plan,” or CAP.

How Do CAP Costs and Payments Work?

The Farm Bill statute allows EQIP payments based upon the estimated incurred cost of practice implementation, which for a CAP will be the labor costs associated with development of a plan meeting agency standards and requirements.

The payment is increased for qualifying historically underserved producers.

NRCS approves CAPs and contract payment rates offered through EQIP every fiscal year. 

Producers should check with their local NRCS office to find out what CAPs are offered in their state. The list of nationally approved CAP practices can be downloaded below.

Producers may apply for a CAP through the EQIP at their local USDA Service Center. EQIP payments are made directly to program participants for development of a CAP. CAP plans can only be developed by an NRCS-certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). Although NRCS personnel are prohibited from developing CAPs, they can assist with the development of conservation plans to address identified resource concerns.

How Do I Find a Technical Service Provider?

You can find information about Technical Service Providers on the NRCS national TSP website.

What Technical Requirements Do CAPs Have?

Technical requirements and planning criteria for each CAP are listed in each state's field office Technical Guide (FOTG) and in the CAP planning criteria available for download on in the "NRCS Technical Guidance Bulletin" section below. This information includes the details of what must be included in each kind of CAP approved for assistance through EQIP.

Detailed technical information is in “Section III” of each state FOTG. You can find Florida- and county-level technical guidance on the FOTG County Locator page

Fiscal Year 2018 CAP Resources

Fiscal Year 2018 Program Guidance

Document or Resource Name


NRCS Fiscal Year 2018 CAP National Bulletin

NRCS program policy and technical guidance to support implementation of CAPs through EQIP program. 


CAP Code

CAP Plan Name



Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan (DOCX, 91KB)


Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plan Template (94KB)

A comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is a conservation plan for an animal feeding operation (AFO). It documents how nutrients and contaminants will be managed in the production and land treatment areas of the farm to protect animal health, human health and the environment.


Nutrient Management Plan (DOCX, 29KB)

A nutrient management plan is a document of record of how nutrients will be managed for plant production and to address the environmental concerns related to the offsite movement of nutrients from agricultural fields.


Forest Management Plan (DOCX, 32KB)

Guide for Foresters for the Joint Management Plan Template (PDF, 1.5MB)

Guide for Landowners for the Joint Management Plan Template (PDF, 303KB)

Managing Your Woodlands National ATFS/FS/NRCS Joint Management Plan Template (PDF, 314KB)


A forest management plan is a site-specific plan developed for a client, which addresses one or more resource concerns on land where forestry-related conservation activities or practices will be planned and applied.


Feed Management Plan (DOCX, 21KB)

A feed management plan is a farm-specific plan developed for a client, to document control of the quantity and quality of available nutrients, feedstuffs, and/or additives fed to livestock and poultry.


Grazing Management Plan (DOCX, 36KB)


A grazing management plan is a site-specific plan, developed with a client to address one or more resource concerns on land where grazing related activities or practices will be applied.


Prescribed Burning Plan (DOCX, 37KB)

A prescribed burning plan is a site-specific plan developed with a client which addresses one or more resource concerns on land through the use of fire.


Integrated Pest Management (DOCX, 25KB)

Integrated Pest Management Template (DOC, 25KB)


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based, sustainable approach to manage pests. It uses a combination of techniques such as chemical tools biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties of cultivars.


Irrigation Water Management Plan (DOCX, 39KB)


Irrigation Water Management (IWM) controls the volume, frequency, and rate of water for efficient irrigation. Measuring soil moisture, water use by plants and climate help decide when to irrigate, and how much water to apply.


Agricultural Energy Management Checklist (DOCX, 47KB)

Agricultural Energy Management Plan (DOCX, 128KB)

An Agricultural Energy Management Plan- Headquarters (AgEMP) is a detailed documentation of energy consuming components and practices of the current operation, the previous year’s on-farm energy consumption, and the strategy by which the producer will explore and address their on-farm energy conservation concerns, objectives, and opportunities.



Drainage Water Management Plan (DOCX, 71KB)


Drainage Water Management (DWM) controls soil water table elevations and the timing of water discharges from subsurface or surface agricultural drainage systems.  giving the opportunity for crop use of the subsurface water and nutrients.

138 Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition Plan (213KB)  CAP 138 helps farmers who are interested in transitioning from conventional farming practices to organic production by addressing the natural resource concerns on their operation. 

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Plan (DOCX, 48KB)


A fish and wildlife habitat plan is a site specific plan developed with a client who is ready to plan and implement conservation activities or practices with consideration for fish and wildlife habitat.



Pollinator Habitat Plan (DOCX, 40KB)


A pollinator habitat enhancement plan is a site-specific conservation plan developed for a client that addresses the improvement, restoration, enhancement, expansion of flower-rich habitat that supports native and/or managed pollinators.



IPM Herbicide Resistant Weed Conservation Plan (DOCX, 28KB)

IPM Herbicide Resistant Weed Conservation Template (DOCX, 21KB)


Integrated Pest Management Herbicide Resistance Weed Conservation Plan emphasizes modifications in herbicide use to suppress weeds on cropland.



Find a Technical Service Provider

You can find information about Technical Service Providers on the NRCS national TSP website.