NRCS Practice Standard: Critical Area Planting

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NRCS Practice Standard: Critical Area Planting

About the Company:

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s primary private lands conservation agency. The NRCS helps producers protect and conserve natural resources on private lands through voluntary conservation programs. Through Practice Standards and technical guides, the NRCS provides information about the conservation, energy resources, and provides personalized advice to individual producers.

The NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides technical and financial assistance to producers as they implement NRCS Conservation Practice Standards.

Technical guides used in each field office are localized so that they apply specifically to the geographic area for which they are prepared. Thus, while national guidelines have been provided as a framework for each standard, each state has adopted and modified the conservation practice standards to suit their individual landscape.

To find a local NRCS Service center click here.

To find the specific guideline for each state click here.

About the Solution:

Critical Area Planting (342)

Critical area planting establishes permanent vegetation on sites that have, or are expected to have, high erosion rates, and on sites that have conditions that prevent the establishment of vegetation with normal practices.

Practice Information

Erosion control is the primary consideration for plant material selection. However, a broad choice of grass, trees, shrubs, and vines are usually available and adapted for most sites. Wildlife and beautification are additional considerations that influence planning decisions on a site needing this practice.

Conservation benefits may include but are not limited to reduced sheet and rill erosion, reduced transport of sediment, and stabilized slopes, road banks, stream banks, shorelines, and sand dunes.

The following decisions must be made when planning this practice:

  • species of plants to establish
  • methods and rates of planting
  • fertilizer and soil amendments necessary for establishment and growth
  • mulching requirements
  • planting site preparation
  • irrigation requirement
  • site management following establishment of the vegetation

    Common Associated Practices

    NRCS Conservation Practice Standard (CPS) Critical Area Planting (Code 342) is commonly applied with conservation practices such as:

  • Mulching (Code 484)
  • Nutrient Management (Code 590)
  • Herbaceous Weed Control (Code 315)

    Installation of practices such as Diversion (Code 362), Obstruction Removal (Code 500), Subsurface Drain (Code 606), or Underground Outlet (Code 620) may be necessary to prepare the area or ensure vegetative establishment.

    To view the national NRCS standard for Critical Area Planting please click here.

  • Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, DC United States 1-833-ONE-USDA Visit Company Website

    Solution Type

    • General Support and Other


    • Others


    • Other

    To view additional information about this vendor, click below.

    Solution Strengths, Weaknesses and Critical Indicators

    NOTE: There are multiple technologies that are used as part of integrated manure management systems and yet are not manure management types on their own. The impact of these technologies on their own would be minimal or very difficult to quantify.

    General Support & Other:

    • Can be an integral part of many manure management systems
    • Most projects have at least some equipment that supports operations of the main technology
    • This technology is not evaluated on its own, the NEAT Matrix for this technology is neutral unless utilized with other technologies.

    Newtrient Comments/Opinions:

    Newtrient is using the USDA-NRCS conservation practice standards as tools to assist dairy producers in understanding the standards and how they can be used to address resources concerns.

    To establish a Practice Standard a system or practice must be thoroughly vetted, approved, and standardized by the USDA at the federal and state level. These conservation practices have been developed to address various environmental resource concerns. Newtrient has developed a 9-point scoring process for ranking additives, practices, services, and technologies for the dairy industry. Recognizing the rigorous approval procedure used during the development of the NRCS Practice Standards, many of them score very highly and are worthy of consideration on any dairy where they apply.

    The information provided here is a summary of the selected conservation practices. For up to date and detailed information related to the full Practice Standards, please see the USDA NRCS website, linked above.

    Newtrient 9-Point Scoring Rating

    View the Scoring Page

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