Formulating and Evaluating Alternatives

Phase II of the NRCS conservation planning process involves the development of alternatives to address the identified resource concerns. The alternatives are typically made up of one or more conservation practices; currently, there are 166 NRCS-recognized conservation practices, and the complete description for each practice is known as the Conservation Practice Standard (CPS). The CPS specifies the definition, purpose, the conditions where the practice applies, the criteria for installation, other considerations in planning, and minimum requirements for plans and specifications.

The complete list of conservation practice standards can be found on the NRCS national website under Conservation Practices.48 Each state can customize the CPSs used in that state, and those can be found in Section IV of the Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG).49

An experienced conservation planner typically will know which conservation practices will best address the wind erosion and air quality resource concerns in a given area. However, reviewing the long list of conservation practices may not be suitable for novice planners or farmers not familiar with the practices or terminology. Additionally, some practices may indirectly benefit wind erosion; such practices are called facilitating practices. For instance, most fences do not directly benefit wind erosion, but they can indirectly benefit wind erosion by providing a means to control grazing needed for a prescribed grazing plan that does directly benefit wind erosion. For this reason, NRCS has developed tools to assist in understanding which practices address which resource concerns. Resource concern planning guides for wind erosion and particulate matter air quality impacts (Appendix B, Exhibit 5-3 and Exhibit 5-4), found in the Arizona FOTG, Section III, under the Resource Concerns Guides folder, display the conservation practices that can be utilized to address these resource concerns.



48.  Conservation Practices | NRCS. Accessed July 18, 2019.

49.  Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) | NRCS. Accessed July 18, 2019.