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Resource Stewardship

Resource Stewardship ImageResource stewardship evaluation is a new tool in conservation planning that assists producers in achieving a stewardship level of conservation, recognizes the stewardship benefits achieved by farmers, ranchers and forestland owners and better communicates the alternatives offered through conservation planning and science-based conservation practice implementation.


Resource Stewardship Evaluation

A Resource Stewardship Evaluation is a new tool and service that strengthens and modernizes conservation planning and helps farmers, ranchers and forest landowners better identify their conservation goals and improve their outcomes. This tool enhances the conservation planning process. 

This new evaluation tool is based on a planning framework that integrates many of NRCS’ planning tools into one package, and looks more holistically at an agricultural operation’s current management and conservation activities. The evaluation then compares those results to NRCS’s stewardship thresholds for five natural resource concerns: soil management, water quality, water quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat.

By using this tool, NRCS can help answer field-specific questions for a producer, such as: How is the operation faring in terms of reducing erosion and increasing soil organic matter? How is the operation doing with water management and preventing nutrient run-off? What about curbing net greenhouse gas emissions and opportunities for improving habitat for wildlife? NRCS evaluates the operation for each area using information from the tool and presents it in a graph like you see below.

The producer can then see where their operation lies on the spectrum with regard to those specific concerns—whether that’s meeting the threshold, exceeding it or identifying opportunities for improvements. These thresholds are science-based and set by NRCS at levels that maintain a balance between productive agriculture and healthy natural resources.

Using this tool, land managers can see the big picture of how their farm or ranch is operating. They can better understand the value of the conservation efforts they already have in place and determine what areas they may want to improve and what practices can get them there. With a Resource Stewardship Evaluation, NRCS and producers can develop a conservation plan that best meets their goals and prescribe the right conservation practices.

Resource Stewardship Layout




Click on image for a larger view.

Who Can Get an Evaluation

Resource Stewardship Evaluations are available are available nationwide although not all staff have been trained yet on delivering them.  The nationwide tool currently only supports cropland evaluations, but grazing and forestry will be offered this year.

How To Request an Evaluation

NRCS accepts requests for conservation planning on a continuous basis. Contact a local USDA Service Center on the availability of the Resource Stewardship Evaluation as part of the conservation planning process.

Other Documents

Resource Stewardship Fact Sheet (PDF, 353KB)
STEP within RSET (PDF, 214KB)

NRCS Resource Stewardship Contacts

For more information email or contact your local USDA Service Center.