Conservation Planning: We Care About Conservation
Conservation Planning - Overview
NRCS Arizona is making an extra effort to show Arizona agricultural producers how conservation planning can help your land's natural resources. We are encouraging farmers and ranchers to request help developing a conservation plan. Creating a conservation plan is a free service from our experts in conserving water, improving air quality, and reducing soil erosion. It’s your plan to use as you wish – a guide to using your natural resources more efficiently.
Agricultural producers can request technical assistance and develop a conservation plan at any time. NRCS Arizona is emphasizing our mission of providing science-based conservation assistance for the management of natural resources for present and future generations. We also would like to highlight farms and ranches - and the farmers and ranchers who make the work happen - through our website and other promotional opportunities.
For more information, contact your local NRCS Arizona office, or call 602-280-8823 or 602-280-8806.
Conservation Planning - What is it?
Phase 1: Collection and Analysis
Conservation planning is a fundamental starting point for maintaining and improving the natural resources that support a productive and profitable agricultural operation. Whether it’s a large scale ranching operation or a small acreage hobby farm, conservation planning is an important — and voluntary — first step that owners and operators can take to meet their land management goals.
Certified conservation planners with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and local conservation districts can provide planning assistance to help agricultural producers identify options that provide the greatest conservation benefit while meeting production goals.
A conservation plan combines the farming or ranching skills of the operator with the science-based knowledge of the conservation planner. The plan is developed with input from the producer and prepared by NRCS. It’s a written record of the management decisions and the conservation practices that are in use or planned for that operation.
A conservation plan is a confidential document, and no person or agency other than NRCS has access to it without written authorization. A conservation plan may also help farmers and ranchers:
At the outset of the conservation planning process, a farmer or rancher begins by identifying overall conservation and production goals for the operation. A key part of the process includes evaluating existing conditions, including land cover, land uses, field operations, and natural resource concerns. The Conservation Records packet is a series of worksheets developed to help landowners collect and record information about cropping systems, conservation work, field operations, and more.
Phase 2: Decision Support - Identifying Solutions
Every operation has its own unique characteristics. Just as the success of any farm or ranch includes many different yet interdependent factors, the success of the conservation effort also depends on incorporation of multiple and interrelated land treatments. These may include a variety of structural practices, cropping systems, operational decisions, and other activities.
During the second phase of the planning process, land managers carefully consider soil conservation, water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and energy conservation treatments that would contribute to an environmentally and economically sustainable farm or ranch. Your conservation planner from NRCS or another entity can help you identify options that may be right for you and your operation.
The combination of different treatments that work together to address the overall natural resource needs on a farm or ranch is called a conservation system, or a resource management system (RMS). Conservation systems are sets of land treatments that, when properly planned and applied, work in tandem to provide the greatest overall conservation and production benefits. When designing an overall conservation system, land managers must consider all of the resources and activities on the land. This guide was developed to provide some of the preliminary information land managers need as they consider a variety of conservation options.
Phase 3: Application & Evaluation – Applying Conservation on the Land
After developing a conservation plan and selecting the options most appropriate for you and your land, a strategy is developed to put your plan into action and get conservation on the ground.
During this last phase, producers install or begin to implement their chosen treatments. Some people may choose to seek conservation program funding or further technical assistance through local, state or federal sources. NRCS and other entities may be able to help with practice design and cost of installation. Millions of dollars is assistance is available through Farm Bill programs.
Contact your local NRCS Arizona office to learn more.
Improving Irrigation Water Use Efficiency: Focus Resource Concern for January 2012
Wise use of irrigation water is one of our highest conservation priorities in Arizona. Irrigation water management is used to apply the amount of water needed, when it is needed by the crop. To improve irrigation efficiency on your farm, there are four things you need to know.