Analyzing Effects of Conservation Practices and Alternatives

As mentioned previously, NRCS planners typically assess multiple resource concerns during the planning process. Once the assessment is completed, alternatives are developed to address the resource concerns discovered.

A high-order review of analyzing effects can be completed using the Conservation Practice Physical Effects (CPPE) matrix and associated Resource Management Systems (RMS) tool. Both the CPPE matrix and the RMS tool can generally be found in each state’s FOTG. The CPPE matrix is a general depiction of all 166 conservation practices’ effect on the full list of resource concerns that NRCS evaluates. The CPPE is developed on the national level, but each state has the prerogative to adjust the values in the matrix based on local professional expertise. The rating ranges from -5 to +5 as shown in Figure 5-1. The intent of the CPPE is to enable planners to compare proposed practices effectiveness in treating the resource concern, while considering any potential negative effects.

Effects Quantification Rating
Substantial Improvement 5
Moderate to Substantial Improvement 4
Moderate Improvement 3
Slight to Moderate Improvement 2
Slight Improvement 1
Not Applicable 0
Neutral 0
Slight Worsening -1
Slight to Moderate Worsening -2
Moderate Worsening -3
Moderate to Substantial Worsening -4
Substantial Worsening -5

Figure 5-1. Conservation Practice Physical Effects (CPPE) ratings.50

The CPPE is developed by specialists in the fields of agronomy, range science, soil science, wildlife biology, forestry, economics, and engineering, both nationally and at the state level, and is reviewed annually. The complete CPPE matrix, including the tab to examine human considerations, can be downloaded from a locally stored copy here,51 or found on the NRCS website52 as Conservation Practice Physical Effects on Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, Energy, People (XLSM, 844kb). NRCS always welcomes outside review and recommendations from qualified conservationists, natural resource professionals, academics, and researchers in the development of the practice ratings.

Another tool for conservation planners to incorporate into their alternative assessments is the above-mentioned RMS Planning Tool.50 A current version of this tool can be found on the NRCS website in their Tools53 section under Technical Resources, Economics.

A final tool that can be used to compare benefits with negative effects is simple T Charts (see Appendix B, Exhibit 5-5).



50.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. RMS Planning Tool National. Accessed July 19, 2019.

51.  Conservation Practice Physical Effects on Soil, Water, Air, Plants, Animals, Energy, People (XLSM, 844kb).

52.  Conservation Practice Physical Effects CPPE | NRCS Economics | NRCS. Accessed July 19, 2019.

53.  Tools | NRCS. Accessed July 19, 2019.