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Every Successful Farm Starts With a Plan

WebpageHeader-SusFarm_StryMapStory by Michelle Banks and Ciji Taylor, Graphics by Chad Douglas and Catherine Ulitsky

This story is also available as a multimedia story.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) was born out of troubled times — the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. Dust storms ravaged the nation’s farmland, stripping away millions of tons of topsoil and carrying it all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

In response to this disaster, the Soil Conservation Service—today’s NRCS—worked side-by-side with farmers to help them recover and build sustainable farming solutions through soil conservation.

Now, more than 80 years later, we continue to champion locally-led, voluntary conservation. With a workforce of 10,000 plus employees and an arsenal of conservation programs, our work helps people make investments in their operations and local communities to keep working lands working, boost rural economies, increase the competitiveness of American agriculture and improve the quality of our air, water, soil and wildlife habitat.

Simply put—NRCS helps America’s farmers and ranchers make conservation work for them.

Foundation of Conservation

Our Conservation Technical Assistance (CTA) program enables every acre of voluntary conservation applied through every program NRCS administers. It is the foundation of our financial and technical assistance delivery system.


CTA provides both environmental and economic benefits.

Every farm and acre is unique and requires tailored management; and every decision maker has different management concerns and needs. Our technical assistance is one-on-one, personalized advice and support to help you make the best decisions for your lands — and is offered free of charge.

This personalized assistance provides families with the science-based data and tools to make informed decisions about where to target efforts to get the greatest return on their investment, and ensure the long-term sustainability of American agriculture.

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Your farm, your plan — your decision

A comprehensive conservation plan is the first step to managing all the natural resources on your farm. We’ll walk your farm with you and together develop options to address your needs. Our tool box includes aerial photos, soil surveys, engineering solutions, and individual science-based analysis customized for your property. The plan we develop with you will combine existing production methods with recommended conservation practices to best manage your farm’s unique natural resources, while allowing you to grow sustainability and productively. Supported by our expert analysis and recommendations, you choose which option best meets your needs. These decisions become your conservation plan, a step-by-step guide to reach your objectives.


This planning process also makes it easier to identify how and when you could qualify for Farm Bill financial assistance to help you install conservation systems, or receive incentives for trying new ones. We have the contract expertise to see you through this process. Because identifying when, where, and how to implement practices is not plug and play.


The final plan provides you a roadmap for meeting your natural resource conservation goals. It includes helpful information on each of your practices, such as how they benefit your farm, how to maintain them, and how they help the soil, water and wildlife.

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Helping People Help the Land

By developing a conservation plan, and adding conservation to your farm, you will protect your land’s ability to provide for your family and future generations.

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With nearly 3,000 offices in communities nationwide, NRCS employees provide the information, tools, and delivery systems necessary for producers — in every state and territory — to conserve, maintain, and improve their natural resources.

Find the resources you need to get started by watching this video, visiting NRCS’ Get Started webpage, or stopping by your local service center.