A Conservation Activity Plan or CAP can be developed for producers to identify conservation practices needed to address a specific natural resource need. Typically, these plans are specific to certain kinds of land use such as:
transitioning to organic operations
A CAP can also address a specific planning need, such as nutrient management or a herbicide resistance issue. With a CAP plan, producers can then apply for financial assistance to implement the needed conservation practices.
What Authority Does NRCS Have For CAPs?
Farm Bill legislation provides NRCS the authority to use financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for practice payments to develop plans appropriate for the eligible land of a program participant. The Act specifically authorizes EQIP to be used for comprehensive nutrient management plans and other plans that further the purposes of the program. The conservation practice associated with plan development under this authority is known as a “Conservation Activity Plan,” or CAP.
How Do CAP Costs and Payments Work?
The Farm Bill statute allows EQIP payments based upon the estimated incurred cost of practice implementation, which for a CAP will be the labor costs typically associated with development of a plan meeting agency standards and requirements. The payment is increased for qualifying historically underserved (HU) producers.
NRCS approves CAPs and contract payment rates offered through EQIP every fiscal year.
Eligible producers may apply at their local NRCS office. EQIP payments are made directly to program participants for development of a CAP. These CAP plans may only be developed by an NRCS-certified Technical Service Provider (TSP). Although NRCS personnel are prohibited from developing CAPs, they can assist with the development of conservation plans to address identified resource concerns.
Technical Service Providers - Technical Service Providers (TSPs) are individuals or businesses that have technical expertise in conservation planning and design for a variety of conservation activities. TSPs are hired by farmers, ranchers, private businesses, nonprofit organizations, or public agencies to provide these services on behalf of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Each certified TSP is listed on the NRCS TSP online registry, TechReg. The TSP registration and approval process involves completing required training and verifying of essential education, knowledge, skills and abilities.
Technical requirements and planning criteria for each CAP are listed in Ohio's Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). CAP planning criteria is available for download in the "Fiscal Year 2017 Program Guidance" table below. This information includes the details of what must be included in each kind of CAP approved for support through EQIP.
How Do I Apply For A CAP?
NRCS accepts applications for EQIP on a continuous basis. However, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications.
A comprehensive nutrient management plan (CNMP) is a conservation plan for an animal feeding operation (AFO). It documents how nutrients and contaminants will be managed in the production and land treatment areas of the farm to protect animal health, human health and the environment.
A nutrient management plan is a document of record of how nutrients will be managed for plant production and to address the environmental concerns related to the offsite movement of nutrients from agricultural fields.
A forest management plan is a site-specific plan developed for a client, which addresses one or more resource concerns on land where forestry-related conservation activities or practices will be planned and applied.
A feed management plan is a farm-specific plan developed for a client, to document control of the quantity and quality of available nutrients, feedstuffs, and/or additives fed to livestock and poultry.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem-based, sustainable approach to manage pests. It uses a combination of techniques such as chemical tools biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices and use of resistant varieties of cultivars.
Irrigation Water Management (IWM) controls the volume, frequency, and rate of water for efficient irrigation. Measuring soil moisture, water use by plants and climate help decide when to irrigate, and how much water to apply.
An Agricultural Energy Management Plan- Headquarters (AgEMP) is a detailed documentation of energy consuming components and practices of the current operation, the previous year’s on-farm energy consumption, and the strategy by which the producer will explore and address their on-farm energy conservation concerns, objectives, and opportunities.
Drainage Water Management (DWM) controls soil water table elevations and the timing of water discharges from subsurface or surface agricultural drainage systems. giving the opportunity for crop use of the subsurface water and nutrients.
A "Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition" is a conservation activity plan documenting decisions by producers/growers who agree to implement a system of conservation practices which assist the producer to transition from conventional farming or ranching systems to an organic production system.
A fish and wildlife habitat plan is a site specific plan developed with a client who is ready to plan and implement conservation activities or practices with consideration for fish and wildlife habitat.
A pollinator habitat enhancement plan is a site-specific conservation plan developed for a client that addresses the improvement, restoration, enhancement, expansion of flower-rich habitat that supports native and/or managed pollinators.