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Learn the Activities of a Technical Service Provider

A Technical Service Provider (TSP) can offer conservation technical services to eligible Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program participants in two broad areas—planning, designing and implementing of conservation practices and/or the development of conservation activity plans.

TSPs can:

  • Develop conservation activity plans;
  • Plan, design, lay out and install conservation practices;
  • Inspect completed practices for certification, if needed; and
  • Help the program participant achieve those goals through the technical services they provide.

Conservation Planning

NRCS offers its technical assistance to eligible program participants through a voluntary, site-specific conservation plan. To develop the plan, program participants voluntarily work with NRCS to assess their land to determine the best opportunities to ensure healthy ecosystems, landscapes and watersheds.

Conservation Activity Plans

A conservation activity plan (CAP) is a specific type of conservation plan. Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners can use a conservation activity plan to achieve specific land use objectives such as nutrient and pest management, forestry, energy conservation, grazing, water management or the transition from conventional to organic agriculture.

CAPs also identify the specific conservation practices to address a specific natural resource need such as nutrient or manure management, pest management and energy.

For instance, eligible agricultural producers can apply for financial assistance through NRCS conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to work with TSPs to develop and implement a conservation activity plan. If a program participant has an EQIP contract that includes TSP services, the participant then chooses a TSP from an NRCS-approved list and negotiates payment for the TSP’s services.

Once technical services are completed, the TSP provides documentation and an invoice to the participant who then provides the documentation and invoice to NRCS for reimbursement. NRCS reimburses the producer at a contracted rate established by the program. The maximum rates for technical services are listed under the Technical Service Payment Rates section of the TechReg website.

Conservation on the Ground

A TSP also can help the program participant design and install and approve conservation practices detailed in the conservation plan or conservation activity plan. Conservation practices can range from simple management activities such as irrigation water management or pest management using state-of-the-art monitoring tools to complex structural practices such as animal waste management systems.

A Conservation Practice standard contains information about why and where a practice can be applied. It also establishes the minimum quality criteria that must be achieved during the application of that practice. This means that it provides a base level for the practice’s effectiveness. State conservation practice standards are available through NRCS’s Electronic Field Office Technical Guide.

Contact Information

To learn more about NRCS’s TSP program in a respective state, contact your State TSP Coordinators or e-mail the national TSP team at tsp@wdc.usda.gov.