Conservation is an investment that pays back over time. Farmers might consider a number of practices to improve the environmental condition of their operation, whether preventing the loss of top soil with erosion control, building organic matter by applying compost or improving forage quality with prescribed grazing. However, conservation practices may be expensive and cannot all be implemented from day one. A farm plan will allow you to lay out the vision for a healthy, thriving farm or ranch, and to prioritize which practices to invest in first.
Agricultural advisors can assist you to develop a farm plan, such as a conservation plan, a carbon farm plan or a grazing management plan. A conservation plan includes a list of infrastructure and land management practices which NRCS can fund partially through a cost share. Engineers at the Natural Resources Conservation Service offer farm Conservation Plans for participants in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. See an example of an NRCS Conservation Plan here.
Different Types of Conservation Plans
Carbon Farm Plan
Agricultural specialists at the Resource Conservation District are qualified to prepare Carbon Farm Plans, which improve upon NRCS Conservation Plans by calculating the organic matter accumulated from soil conservation practices. Carbon Farm Plans can also help to obtain funding from the CDFA Healthy Soils Program or Zero Foodprint Restore California Program.
The Carbon Farm plan was developed by the Carbon Cycle Institute and uses the Comet Planner tool to calculate the anticipated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. See an example of Carbon Farm plans that the Resource Conservation District prepared below:
Grazing Management Plan
Certified Range Managers (CRM) are trained to create Grazing Management plans, which describe the management of forage and habitat on a ranch.
Rancher John Austel of 4J Horse and Livestock has used this plan at the Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, created by CRM Liz Kellogg, to implement prescribe grazing at separate pastures throughout the ranch in order to reduce noxious weeds, build soil organic matter for drought resilience and enhance habitat for protected species like the Burrowing Owl.
- Read the Rancho Jamul Grazing Management plan at this link.