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Air Quality

NRCS Air Quality and Atmospheric Change

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service helps private landowners conserve our natural resources, cloudand air resources are among those.  Our Air Quality resource concerns can be broadly classified into four air quality and atmospheric change issues:   

  • Particulate Matter
  • Ozone Precursors
  • Odor
  • Greenhouse Gases and Carbon Sequestration

For each of these major issues the latest science and the most relevant technical tools are being applied so that NRCS personnel, cooperators and landowners can make the best decisions regarding air resources.

National Air Quality Initiative

The new National Air Quality Initiative for FY2016 has been announced and states have been initially selected for participation. These states will receive EQIP funds for targeted air quality work.  Each state has different air quality resource concerns and objectives, and NAQI gives them the ability to tailor their plans for meeting these resource objectives.  For instance, in Oregon the focus is on Hood River County where smudge pots (oil-burning orchard heaters) are still used for frost protection in the numerous apple and pear orchards in the county. NRCS is funding smudge pot elimination, and these heaters are being replaced by much lower emitting frost protection systems (typically propane heaters or wind machines). The Combustion System Improvement (number 372) conservation practice is being used for this purpose. In Texas the focus is on dust control, primarily in arid western counties where a mixture of practices such as conservation cover, cover crops, residue and tillage management, and prescribed grazing are being utilized to reduce wind erosion and particulate matter problems.

Here is a list of NAQI approved practices for FY16 and their relative effectiveness in managing various air emissions.

NRCS National Programs Air Quality Initiative information.

NRCS and EPA have released Agricultural Air Quality Conservation Measures - Reference Guide for Cropping Systems and General Land Management. (PDF 895 KB)

This 31-page guide provides information about NRCS conservation practices and other activities that can be used to address air resource concerns associated with cropping systems and general land management.

NRCS Greenhouse Gas Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) Recipients' Resources Page

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) - Greenhouse Gas Awardees: Fiscal Year 2011Hive of information

In fiscal year 2011, the Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded CIG grants specifically for Greenhouse Gas mitigation and carbon sequestration opportunities. To view a brief summary of the GHG Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) click here. The information includes the state(s) in which the project will be carried out, the total amount of NRCS funding provided, project title, and a brief project description. 

This informational webpage has been developed to facilitate information exchange between the CIG recipients and NRCS state offices throughout the implementation phase of the projects.  Resources on this page are intended to be dynamic and continually updated, especially throughout FY13 during the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) rollout.


Air Emissions Regulations

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Other Resources:

Fact Sheets