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Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)

What is the Field Office Technical Guide?

Technical guides are the primary scientific references for NRCS. They contain technical information about the conservation of soil, water, air, and related plant and animal resources.

Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. These documents are referred to as Field Office Technical Guides (FOTGs).

What's New in FOTG?

The Ecological Sciences Division launched its fifth revised FOTG on September 19. Field offices, the guide’s primary users, will find the guide’s new design improves the user experience and encourages consistency in its five sections. The guide continues to allow states to add relevant information, but it is also organized to ensure its structure is consistent for all states.

Here are several major changes to FOTG:

  • Instead of navigating to the FOTG by clicking on maps of states and counties, users choose a state in an alphabetical list of state names and click “submit” to reach their local FOTG. A document tree on the left side of the screen lists the five sections’ contents. Document collections and search results are displayed clearly in the center of the screen.
  • Section IV has undergone the most significant changes to encourage consistency in document organization.
    • For an interim period, Section IV will contain two collections called “Conservation Practices and Support Documents and Old Section IV.
    • All documents displayed in Section IV are approved for use in the state, except for those held in a sub-folder labeled Archives. Files in Archives are no longer applicable.
    • Eventually all state documents will be moved into the Conservation Practices and Support Documents and the original Section IV will be removed.

What information is contained in FOTG?

Section 1 — General Resource References
This section contains general state maps, descriptions of Major Land Resource Areas, watershed information, and links to NRCS reference manuals and handbooks. Section I contains links to research universities and other partners NRCS collaborate and work with. Section I also contains conservation practice cost data, agricultural laws and regulations, cultural resources, and information about protected plant and animal species.

Section 2 — Natural and Cultural Resources Information
This section contains detailed sources of information about soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources. NRCS Soil Surveys, Hydric Soils Interpretations, Ecological Site Descriptions, Forage Suitability Groups, Cropland Production Tables, Wildlife Habitat Evaluation Guides, Water Quality Guides, and other related information can be found in this section.

Section 3 — Resource Concerns and Planning Criteria
This section contains information on NRCS conservation planning criteria, which establish standards for resource conditions that help provide sustained use.

Section 4 — Practice Standards and Supporting Documents
This section contains NRCS’s Conservation Practice Standards and Practice Support Documents. The Practice Standards section defines the conservation practices. The section also does the following:

  • Explains the purpose of conservation practices;
  • identifies the conditions where practices can be used;
  • lists required criteria when practices are implemented;
  • explains considerations for site-specific implementation;
  • lists requirements for plans and specifications;
  • specifies requirements for operation and maintenance, and;
  • cites technical references related to the practice standard.

Section 5 — Conservation Effects
This section contains background information on how Conservation Practices affect resource concerns in the state.


Visit your state’s revised Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG)