Farm Planning

This page can provide you with the information, tools, and templates you need to start and continue planning. If you can't find something, then Ask an Expert! They can help answer any questions you may have.

Farm Planner Training

New to farm planning, or want to up your expertise? Here are the recommended trainings and opportunities to get you started and advancing:

  • Meet the NRCS Planner Designation requirements for the Apprentice and/or Certified level. This will help set your base understanding of resource concerns evaluation and planning assessment process.
  • NRCS Conservation Planning, Part 2 - This is the second section of the three part Conservation Planning series that encompasses a book learning (AgLearn Part 1), hands-on classroom (Part 2), and planning (Part 3) portion to build your general planning foundation.
  • NRCS Conservation Planning, Part 3 - This is the final section of the three part Conservation Planning series in which you work with a mentor to write a full Resource Management Plan (RMS) specific to your planning discipline. Once you complete this section you receive your Conservation Planner certificate and can begin to plan on your own.
  • Farm Planner Certification - Once you have your planning base and start working in your field, it is time to work towards your CTD Planner Certification to verify your expertise and help you create a training plan on getting to the next planning level.

Farm Plan Types and Templates

There are different types of plans as you move through the complexity of the planning process. You might work through one or all of the steps with a landowner. Below we define the primary plan types - Correspondence, Technical Assistance Letter, Conservation Plan, and Plan Update - and give you examples of each.

Conservation Plan Types:

Practice Plan

Definition: A simple conservation farm plan that may not address all resource concerns identified, but provides a Record of Decisions on how the cooperator will implement mutually approved management practices to address issues identified on farm.

Activities/Detail: See steps above, plus... Action Plan/Record of Decisions (ROD) may not address ALL resource issues identified. Cooperator commitment and engagement is lower and is focused on a few specific management practices. May be related to a specific cost share program or funding stream; practices recommended do no need to meet NRCS standards but must effectively address resource concern(s). Adaptive management recommended, but not required.

Comprehensive Plan

Definition: A complete conservation farm plan that address all resource concerns identified with a Record of Decisions and timeline of NRCS practice implementation to achieve resource protection goals.

Activities/Detail: See steps above, plus... Step above Practice Plan; there is a triggering factor for this plan type such as a referral, regulations, cost-share requirements, critical areas, NRCS or Technical Service Provider (TSP) program requirements, high number of resource concerns identified, higher intensity or impact of farm due to size, and/or potential impact to resources. Plan address all resource concern issues identified. Include job sheets for practices. Record of Decision (ROD) includes timeline for addressing all concerns. Plan is approved and/or certified by Board.


Definition: An NRCS approved plan including, but not limited to, an NMP, CNMP, or RMS plan. All resource concerns are identified, evaluated, and addressed using NRCS Practice Standards.

Activities/Detail: See steps above, plus... Required for participation in an NRCS program. Include completed CPA-52 and all relevant assessment tools. Follows NRCS Resource Management System (RMS) planning process. Use comprehensive assessment tools and planning process and include Record of Decisions, alternatives, and timeline of activities. Prescribed practices must meet all standards described in eFOTG. Plan is approved and/or certified by NRCS.

Farm Planning Tools and Resources


The following spreadsheets have been created/modified by your CD colleagues. For questions, please contact them directly.


The links below will lead you to a variety of tools and resources helpful for planning. This list is not exhaustive. If you have a tool or page you use for planning, let us know and we can add it to the list.

Who to Contact

Who do you contact for more help or technical assistance? Try: or find your person below.

Farm Planning State Lead - For general questions or more information about the content on this page or farm planning, contact the state planning lead.

"Ask an Expert" Farm Planning - Send in any question you have (no, there are no stupid questions) and an expert will get back to you asap.

Individual Planners and Mentors - call anyone of these folks for a quick question or a longer conversation on farm planning.

Area Engineers - provide assistance with practice design and construction.