NRCS History Publications
Browse our collection of NRCS historical notes and historical insights.
NRCS Historical Notes
Readings in the History of the Soil Conservation Service
A convenient resource for soil conservation professionals and students of the history of conservation.
Engineering in the Soil Conservation Service
Engineering has played an essential part in meeting NRCS' mission objectives.
Interviews with Chiefs of the Soil Conservation Service: Williams, Grant, Davis, and Berg
The story of the Soil Conservation Service, told by the four men who ran the agency over a period of some thirty years.
The Soil Conservation Service Responds to the 1993 Midwest Floods
This publication provides case studies of the agency response to the 1993 Midwestern floods.
Historical Changes in Soil Erosion, 1930-1992: The Northern Mississippi Valley Loess Hills
Using a case study of changes in soil erosion in the "Driftless Area" of the Coon Creek watershed, this publication illustrates a methodology for determining long term changes in erosion conditions.
Conservation and Culture
Conservation and Culture: The Soil Conservation Service, Social Science, and Conservation on Tribal Lands in the Southwest features USDA's efforts to address soil erosion on Navajo and Hopi reservations in the 1930s.
The National Cooperative Soil Survey of the United States
As a soil scientist in the Soil Conservation Service, the author, David Gardner, saw the soil survey from the inside while working in scientific and technical positions as well as in administrative ones.
The History of Snow Survey and Water Supply Forecasting
The seven oral history interviews and three articles in this volume recount significant historical developments in snow surveying and waters supply forecasting in the Western U.S. since 1935.
NRCS Historical Insights
Brief History of the USDA Soil Bank Program
This paper provides a brief overview of the Soil Bank program and its long term value for conservation.
Third Party Vendors in Conservation
This publication provides a historical overview of the relationship between NRCS and private contractors who perform conservation work.
Performance Based Conservation: The Journey to Green Payments
This paper examines conservation and policy discussions leading to and the historical context of the ideas contained in the Conservation Security Program (CSP).
Soil Conservation in New Zealand and the United States
This paper explores former SCS director Donald A. Williams' review of and suggestions for improving New Zealand's soil conservation institutions in 1964.
Technical Assistance: The Engine of Conservation
This history provides a window onto SCS’ and later NRCS’s delivery of assistance to land owners, and how new legislation and programs influenced the conservation operations.
Leveraging Farm Policy for Conservation
This paper provides analysis of why an environment favorable for passage of the 1985 Farm Bill came to be, and it draws a few lessons from the experience.
Hydrologic and Hydraulic Research in the Soil Conservation Service
The SCS developed principles that aided the soil and water conservation program and made pioneering contributions to science and technology.
Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Creation of the Soil Erosion Service
This article discusses the establishment of Soil Erosion Service demonstration projects by Hugh Hammond Bennett and colleagues between 1933 and 1935.
Hugh Hammond Bennett and the Creation of the Soil Conservation Service
This paper discusses how Bennett’s USDA career made him the logical candidate to lead the Federal soil conservation effort.
Soil and Water Conservation Expenditures by USDA Agencies, 1935-2010
This report examines historical expenditures on 32 conservation programs administered by the NRCS, Farm Service Agency (FSA), and their predecessor agencies.
USDA Watershed Programs Facts & Figures
This document describes the USDA Watershed Program's history, its current state, and the challenges it faces in the future.
A Brief History of NRCS
For more than 80 years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has been a pioneer in conservation, working with landowners, local and state governments, and other federal agencies to maintain healthy and productive working landscapes.Learn More