USDA report

USDA Report Shows a Decade of Conservation Trends

Dan Conservation, Environment, USDA-NRCS

USDA report

According to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, the use of no-till, crop rotations, more efficient irrigation methods and advanced technologies have climbed in recent years. The report, from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), demonstrates progress made through voluntary conservation over a 10-year period.

The report titled, “Conservation Practices on Cultivated Cropland: A Comparison of CEAP I and CEAP II Survey Data and Modeling”, was developed by USDA’s Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). It found significant gains for soil health and soil carbon storage, while also identifying areas where additional and targeted nutrient management strategies are needed.


Some of the key findings in the report include:

  • Farmers increasingly adopted advanced technology, including enhanced-efficiency fertilizers and variable rate fertilization to improve efficiency.
  • More efficient conservation tillage systems, particularly no-till, became the dominant form of tillage, improving soil health and reducing fuel use.
  • Use of structural practices increased, largely in combination with conservation tillage as farmers increasingly integrated conservation treatments to gain efficiencies. Structural practices include terraces, filter and buffer strips, grassed waterways and field borders.
  • And irrigation expanded in more humid areas, and as irrigators shifted to more efficient systems and improved water management strategies.

Farmer survey data was collected for this report from 2003-2006 and again from 2013-2016. To see more of the results from this report, visit the CEAP webpage.