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How to Get Started With the NRCS

EQIP offers technical help for planning and designing conservation practices that protect our water and air, improve soil health, enable us to better care for farm animals, manage animal waste, and sustain our agricultural land.  EQIP also offers financial assistance to make these practices more affordable.  NRCS program information.

Who Can Participate

All private landowners and operators who are engaged in forestry, wildlife management, crop, or livestock production on eligible land may participate in the EQIP Program.  Eligible land includes cropland, pasture, hayland, forestland or other lands on which crops or livestock are produced.  Participation is voluntary.

Once you have a conservation plan and would like to apply for EQIP funds to help you implement your list of recommended conservation practices, we will help you understand the program eligibility process.  

NRCS will evaluate your completed eligibility forms and needed practices.  After you have finalized practice decisions and agree to move forward, we’ll work with you on the application.  EQIP applications are accepted on a continuous basis, but they are considered for funding during specific ranking periods.  Once you have passed eligibility and finalized practice decisions, your application is eligible to be considered for the next ranking period.

What We Can Help With

The first step for you as the farmer is to think about your farming operation.  There are many issues with a farm business just as with any business, but farming is a profession that is often intimately connected with the land. So, start by thinking about your land and its natural resources, such as soil, water, air, plants, and animals.  What are your natural resource needs, areas where you need more information, or have a feeling there may be problem? Some examples are:

  • Do my pastures seem healthy?
  • Do I have a good water supply?
  • Is the water as clean when it leaves my property as when it arrived?
  • Do I have too much manure around?
  • I don't know how much fertilizer to use
  • Are my animals digging up streambanks or wet spots?
  • What can I do to improve wetlands or wildlife habitat on my land that might also help my operation?
  • Do I have gullies or areas that are eroding?
  • Is there evidence of soil erosion or water runoff from my field?
  • How can I control pests without too many pesticides?
  • Is there dirty water running off my barnyard area?
  • How can I start composting?
  • Do I have good access to my woodlot?
  • My neighbors have complained about odors
  • Is a pond near my property starting to look green and scummy?
  • Could I be wasting water?
  • Am I doing some things on my farm that I know are good for the natural resources?
  • My farm is next to a lake, river, stream

These are just some of the natural resource questions that could come up when you are thinking about your farming operation.  Since it is our business to help people deal with their natural resources and promote stewardship, these are the main types of issues that could be addressed by us. 

Also, it is critical all the decision-makers in your farming operation participate in this process. Good communication at this point among the business partners cannot be underrated!

Contacting Our Office

Call your local NRCS field office to discuss your resource needs and work with staff to develop a conservation plan.  Your conservation planner will visit your farm and identify resource concerns, discuss your goals, inventory resources, and evaluate alternatives.  Your goals and objectives, with a list of recommended conservation practices for your farm, will be included in your conservation plan.


Most applications will be prescreened prior to ranking.  All applications that are not national initiatives will be prescreened using the following Prescreening tool:

Prescreening tool

Prescreening tool for Socially Disadvantaged or Beginner farmers

If participating in national initiative your application will be prescreened using the corresponding Prescreening tool below:

Energy Prescreening (2017)

National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) Prescreening (2017)

Application Ranking

Applications will be ranked according to local resource concerns and the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide.  Applications demonstrating the highest environmental benefit will be awarded contracts until NH EQIP funds have been exhausted. 

NRCS accepts applications on a continuous basis.

Batching dates are the third Friday of every month January - May.

Implementing the Contract and Getting Paid

Once you have been selected and sign the contract, you will be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice(s) and you will have a specified time to implement them.  The contract will be carried out, in part, according to the conservation plan that you developed.  Once the work is implemented and inspected, you will receive the predetermined payment rate for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.  All practices established with EQIP funding must be maintained for the life span of the practice.  Most approved practices for New Hampshire are listed on the other side of this page.

Payment Rates and Limitations

EQIP offers payment rates for installed practices to eligible producers based on allowable average costs for the region.  Historically underserved producers may qualify for a higher practice payment rate.  The total limitation on EQIP payments is $450,000 per individual or entity member for the period from 10/1/2014 to 9/30/2019, regardless of the number of farms or contracts.  Payments are made to participants once conservation practices are completed according to NRCS requirements and certified by NRCS staff.