Conservation Plans – A Good Place to Start for Farmland

A conservation plan is a written record of your management decisions and the conservation practices you plan to use and maintain on your property.  Following your plan will achieve your goals of protecting the environment on and off your property.  After soil, water, air, plant and animal resources on your property are inventoried and evaluated, an NRCS Soil Conservationist will review several alternatives for your consideration. The alternatives you decide upon are recorded in the plan, which becomes your tool for better management of your natural resources. You make the decisions.  The soil conservationist can show you many good alternatives and make some economic comparisons, but you decide what you what to do, when and how.  It may take several years before all your practices are installed.  In addition to controlling soil erosion, you can get assistance on other resource concerns, such as pasture and woodland management, managing animal waste, wildlife habitat, irrigation water management and stream bank protection.  If you participate in USDA programs or the state Farmland Preservation Program, it is very important that you keep your conservation plan up to date.  As a program participant, you are required to certify every year that you are following your schedule.  Note: Enrollment in a USDA program is not a requirement to obtain a conservation plan.

What’s in a Conservation Plan?

  • An aerial photo or diagram of your property;
  • A list of your management decisions;
  • The location of and schedule for applying new conservation practices;
  • A soil map and soil descriptions;
  • Information sheets explaining how to carry out your specific management decisions;
  • A plan for operation and maintenance of practices, if needed.

Benefits of a Conservation Plan

  • You will protect your soil and your property’s productivity;
  • You will help improve water quality in your area;
  • You will improve your soil’s fertility and manage soil moisture;
  • You may attract desirable wildlife by creating suitable habitats;
  • You will protect the productive value of your land for future generations;
  • You can more readily comply with environmental regulatory requirements;
  • A conservation plan can help you decide which state or federal cost share assistance programs would be suitable for your operation.
  • You can revise your plan if something happens that would force you to change your decisions (such as changes in markets, weather, or technology that cause you to reconsider some of your choices).

What will it cost?

  • FREE! – It will cost nothing to get a Conservation Plan for farms.  This service is provided by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service in cooperation with your local Soil Conservation Service.
  • Some practices may only require a change in the way you operate your property, while others may require additional investment.  Part of the cost of these practices may be paid through federal, state and local cost-sharing programs.
  • For other practices, you may need to invest in different types of equipment.  In some cases, you may be able to adapt your existing equipment.

Where do you start?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service or Soil Conservation Districts in your county have trained staff to help you.  Visit their website or call your nearest NRCS office and make an appointment to meet with them.  Tell them the NJ Quail Project sent you!  Office locations are:

Northern New Jersey
Frenchtown Service Center
687 Pittstown Road, Suite 2
Frenchtown, NJ 08825-4148
(908) 782-4614
(908) 782-0501 fax

Hackettstown Service Center
101 Bilby Road Suite 1H
Hackettstown, NJ 07840-1753
(908) 852-2576

Central New Jersey
Columbus Service Center
1971 Jacksonville Jobstown Road
Columbus, NJ 08022
(609) 267-1639
(732) 462-5274 fax

Freehold Service Center
Monmouth Agriculture Building
4000 Kozloski Road, Suite D
Freehold, NJ 07728
(732) 462-0072

Southern New Jersey
Vineland Service Center
1317 S. Main Road, Suite 3A
Vineland, NJ 08360-6511
(856) 205-1225
(856) 205-0691 fax

Woodstown Service Center
51 Cheney Road, Suite 2
Woodstown, NJ 08098-5428
(856) 769-1126


The New Jersey Quail Project/Quail in the Classroom is a venture of
the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance Environmental Projects 501(c)(3)