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Here's how to set a conservation plan

Editor's note: The following was provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A good conservation plan is like a road map. It will tell you where you are, where you would like to be, and how to get there in an economically and ecologically sound manner.

Start by setting realistic goals: Maybe your goal is to increase herd size, or crop yield, or control invasive species in your woodlot.

Inventory your existing resources: What do you have? Are the soils and land capable of accomplishing your goals? What wetlands and streams need to be protected?

Soil samples can tell a lot about the capabilities of the land. Maybe portions of the property aren't capable of accomplishing the production you desire. The goals for those acres need to be adjusted.

Explore options: Do you need to change your management style or do you need infrastructure or both. For example, does your inventory show an under-utilized portion of pasture, do you need to improve the forages, provide water, or build fences?

Do you need to hire a consultant to assist you with portions of your plan? There are many agencies, organizations and companies that often work together to help you achieve your goals. Talk to the agencies early in the planning process. There may be rules or regulations that need to be incorporated in your plan. Some agencies offer funding to install practices. Funding often comes with timelines and quality standards that should be incorporated in the plan.

For more information about the conservation planning process contact your local USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service office at 320-732-6618 ext. 3 or stop into the local Service Center at 607 9th Street NE Long Prairie.