Cropland includes areas used for the production of adapted crops for harvest.
Two subcategories of cropland are recognized: cultivated and non-cultivated. Cultivated cropland comprises land in row crops or close-grown crops and also other cultivated cropland, for example, hay land or pastureland that is in a rotation with row or close-grown crops. Non-cultivated cropland includes permanent hay land and horticultural cropland.
Per the 2007 National Resources Inventory there are 357, 023,500 acres of cropland in the United States. The cropland acres produce most of the food and fiber production for the US and exports to other countries.
It is the NRCS role to provide national leadership and technical assistance for the conservation of our natural resources to ensure the continued production of food and fiber.
Major natural resource concerns facing cropland include: (1) erosion by wind and water, (2) maintaining and enhancing soil quality, (3) water quality from nutrient and pesticides runoff and leaching, and (4) managing the quantity of water available for irrigation.
Soil erosion involves the breakdown, detachment, transport, and redistribution of soil particles by forces of water, wind, or gravity. Soil erosion on cropland is of particular interest because of its on-site impacts on soil quality and crop productivity, and its off-site impacts on water quantity and quality, air quality, and biological activity.
The economic impact of mitigating soil erosion significantly burdens the agri-business sector and the Nation as a whole. Dust contributions to the atmosphere and delivery of sediment, nutrients, and chemicals to water resources are primary environmental concerns addressed by public policy makers and the stewards of our working lands. Understanding and managing these processes has important long term implications for cropland sustainability, natural resource condition and health, and environmental quality.
The NRCS has erosion prediction tools and conservation practices that contain the technologies to assist land users to plan and implement conservation systems to address soil erosion.
How to Get Assistance
Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?
Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.
To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.
NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.
We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:
- To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
- To meet other eligibility certifications.
Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.
Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.
As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:
- An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
- A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
- A farm tract number.
If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.
NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.
If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.
Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.