These resources provide access to information relating to specific on-farm conservation practices.  An understanding of these practices is important to developing a lease that promotes their use.  The intent of this page is to provide resources that present a well-rounded overview of important conservation practices.  For additional advice regarding conservation practices that are appropriate for your land contact your local NRCS Service Center or State University Extension office.

General Resources

Conservation Connect

  • Geared specifically to absentee landowners, this online resource provides tailored information on conservation programs, agency contact information, and the tools needed to implement conservation practices.

Ecology Resources by Subject, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture

  • The Leopold Center provides practical information on improving sustainability in a number of areas ranging from nutrient and pest management to woodland restoration with goats.

ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF CONSERVATION ON CROPLAND: THE STATUS OF OUR KNOWLEDGE (Craig Cox and Max Schnepf eds., Soil and Water Conservation Society 2006).

  • This 326 page book is organized in chapters covering soil management, water management, nutrient management, pest management, and landscape management practices.
  • This book is not available online, but may be found through your local library or purchased through the Soil and Water Conservation Society website.

Conservation Choices: Your Guide to 30 Conservation Practices, a product of NRCS.

  • Provides a general overview of conservation practices.
  • Includes notes on the benefits, planning, and maintenance for each practice.

Iowa NRCS Publications

  • Descriptions and links to NRCS brochures on practices ranging from crop rotations and contour farming to improving wetlands and attracting wildlife.

Conservation Tillage

Conservation Tillage, by Preston Sullivan, National Center for Appropriate Technology (2003).

  • The publication provides a brief introduction to the benefits as well as possible drawbacks of conservation tillage.

Controlled Traffic System

Controlled Traffic System, a product of NRCS (2008).

  • A Controlled Traffic System, or Controlled Wheel Traffic, promotes the use of the same rows year after year for the tires or tracks of tractors and other equipment.
  • This NRCS Soil Enhancement Activity sets out the benefits of controlling wheel traffic and how to implement such a system.

Cover Crops

Managing Cover Crops Profitably, Third Ed., produced by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (2007).

  • Includes information on the environmental and economic benefits of cover crops as well as information on how to manage specific cover crops.

Overview of Cover Crops and Green Manures, by Preston Sullivan for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (2003).

  • This introduction to cover crops and green manures includes the benefits and drawbacks of grasses and legumes.
  • It also contains data on the amount of nitrogen produced by legume crops and tells how to calculate nutrient enhancements.

Crop Residue

Residue Matters, an Iowa State University Extension Resource

  • This is a website dedicated to providing “information about why residue matters and how leaving residue on your field can save you soil, energy and time.”
  • Includes links to additional publications on the relationship between crop residue and conservation, as well as the economics of crop residue.

Crop Rotation

Conservation Crop Rotations, Iowa NRCS (January 2008)

  • This document provides an introduction to the use of crop rotations specifically geared toward conservation.
  • It also includes a table that can be used for establishing crop rotations.

Prairie Strips

Science-Based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairie Strips (STRIPS), Iowa State University

  • This project is composed of a team of scientists, educators, farmers, and extension specialists researching prairie strips.
  • Prairie strips are an affordable option for farmers and farm landowners seeking to garner multiple conservation benefits.