What is a conservation plan?

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Farmland

Every good business starts with a plan. Developing a good conservation plan is the first step to managing the natural resources on your farm and ensuring those resources remain available for future generations.

When developing a conservation plan, a planner — or NRCS representative — guides landowners through the entire planning process, walking the land and making sure the landowner’s conservation goals are met.

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1Planning
The first step in developing any management plan is to identify problem areas and opportunities. Landowners can use these areas to define their objectives and goals for the land.

The early planning process is also a good time to take an inventory of the natural resources available and further identify the problems and opportunities.

2Analyze
Once information about the land has been collected — through soil surveys, aerial imagery, etc. — the planner will analyze the data and define existing conditions for all the identified natural resources including limitations and potentials for land use.

From there, the planner helps the landowner develop alternatives for land uses based on the condition of the land and owner’s objectives for the land.

3The plan in action
After evaluating the alternatives to determine which will be the most effective in accomplishing the landowner’s goals, the landowner selects his or her preferred alternative and works with the planner to implement the new practice.

4Evaluate
The planner works with the landowner to make adjustments as needed. The final plan provides a roadmap for meeting conservation goals by showing how each practice benefits the farm or woodland, how to maintain that practice, and how the practice benefits soil, water and wildlife.

Developing a plan for your land also makes it easier to identify how and when you could qualify for financial assistance to help offset the cost of implementing new conservation practices.

This month we will break down different services provided by the NRCS each week, wrapping the series up with how you can get started with NRCS.

Next week: Financial assistance.

Sources: NRCS.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

More Farming 101 columns:

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