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Conservation Plan Purpose, Benefits and Process

What Is A Conservation Plan?

A conservation plan is:

  • A tool that helps manage your land profitably while protecting natural resources, 
  • Based on objectives or a desired future condition that you establish. The plan reflects your decisions about the management of natural resources for your land, 
  • Created using a dynamic process which includes nine steps divided into three phases. The process considers you as well as the natural resources you use or manage. 

Photograph of a fence iInstalled to exclude grazing livestock from a stream      Photograph of a fall cover crop

A completed conservation plan will include: 

  • Your objectives and goals, 
  • Aerial photographs or diagrams of your farm and fields, 
  • Soils maps and soils descriptions, 
  • Conservation plan alternatives for solving identified resource concerns, 
  • Documentation of your decisions for treatment of resource concerns, 

  • Planned conservation practice or treatment maps 

  • Tools, such as practice job sheets, to help you successfully implement your planned practices,

  • A schedule for applying conservation practices, 

  • Plan of operation and maintenance of your conservation practices and systems. 

  • Resource inventory and analysis data which may include: 

                Forage or crop production potential, 

                Forage-livestock balance calculations, 

                Soil erosion calculations or estimates, 

                Wildlife habitat assessment, 

                Surface and groundwater quality assessments, 

                Agricultural waste management assessment, and more. 


What are the Benefits of Having a Conservation Plan?

Development and implementation of a conservation plan can:

  • Ensure better natural resource quality for you, your animals and your neighbors, 

  • Enhance open space and wildlife habitat, 

  • Improve animal health,

  • Maintain or improve soil health, 

  • Prevent off-farm environmental impacts, 

  • Contribute to plant health and vigor,

  • Contribute to more productive land, 

  • Make your land more attractive and promote good neighbor relations,

  • Increase your property value,

  • Promote health and safety for your family. 

Working with you one-on-one, NRCS field office employees provide the technical expertise for conservation planning and practice design that will enable you to balance your economic goals with the needs of the natural environment, creating sustainable systems that not only produce abundant crops and livestock, but also a quality environment. NRCS employees will also help identify USDA conservation programs or other potential sources of funding which could help you to implement the conservation plan. 


The choice to develop a conservation plan is yours - it is a voluntary process. 

You make the decisions. You implement the plan according to a schedule you determine. Development of a conservation plan does not provide public access to your property. You control all rights of entry and use. All of the information developed by you belongs to you.


The customer questionnaire(s) available below are intended to assist you and the conservation planner gather the preliminary information necessary to begin formulation of a conservation plan. If you are interested in working with NRCS to create a plan, choose the questionnaire which is most appropriate for your land or farm operation, and complete as many of the questions as possible. Fill in N/A for questions which do not apply to your farm or land. Begin by clearly stating your objectives. Objectives which are clear, realistic and achievable will keep you focused and provide you with a measurement tool to determine progress. State the future conditions you hope to achieve on your land and how much progress you hope to achieve within a selected time frame. Clear objectives will help ensure the final plan will fit your needs. Completion of the questionnaire gets you started on steps 1 and 2 of phase I of the conservation planning process shown below. After completing the questionnaire, contact your local USDA Service Center NRCS office. Ask for a conservation planner to help you with the remaining steps of the planning process toward completion of your conservation plan. 
















Available Customer Questionnaires:


Livestock-Whole Farm Questionnaire: This questionnaire is intended for use when developing a general whole farm plan. It is designed for use when evaluating a typical Vermont livestock farm where the conservation planner will be evaluating several types of land uses (cropland, hayland, forest, pasture or wildlife land). 


Grazing Questionnaire: This questionnaire is intended for use when primarily evaluating the resource concerns associated with grazing livestock. 


Cropland (No Livestock) Questionnaire: This questionnaire is intended to be used when primarily evaluating the resource concerns associated with production of field and forage crops. 


Fruit & Vegetable Farm Questionnaire: This questionnaire is intended to be used when primarily evaluating the resource concerns associated with production of fruit and vegetable crops. 


Forestry and Wildlife Questionnaire: This questionnaire is intended to be used when primarily evaluating the resource concerns associated with forest or wildlife. 

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Last Modified: June 5, 2018