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Sept 25 -- The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) invites comments by November 24, 2023 regarding the revised extension of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) Survey.

The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) was initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2003 as a multi-agency effort to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices on agricultural lands. As part of this assessment, NASS conducted on-site interviews with farmers during 2003–2006 to document tillage and irrigation practices, application of fertilizer, manure, and pesticides, and use of conservation practices at sample points drawn from the Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) sampling frame. These data were linked through the NRI frame to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) soil, climate, and historical survey databases. The combined information was used to model the impact on soil and water resources and to estimate the benefits of conservation practices, including nutrient, sediment, and pesticide losses from farm fields, reductions of in-stream nutrient and sediment concentrations, and impacts on soil quality and erosion.

USDA needs updated scientifically credible data on residue and tillage management, nutrient management, and conservation practices in order to quantify and assess current impacts of farming practices and to document changes. A pilot survey focused in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed was conducted for the 2011 crop year. In 2012 the target area was the Western Lake Erie Basin and the Des Moines River Watershed. In 2013 the target area was the Sacramento River, San Joaquin and Tulare Lake basin watersheds. This group of surveys is referred to as the “NRI Conservation Tillage and Nutrient Management Survey” (NRI–CTNMS). The survey questionnaires are modeled after the 2003–2006 CEAP surveys and were administered through personal interviews of farm operators by trained National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) enumerators. Under the current approval the sample sizes averaged less than 2,500 operators per year. In 2014 NASS was conducting the survey in the St. Francis River Basin (Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi). In 2015 and 2016 the CEAP program was expanded to the US level. The target sample size for this approval will be approximately 20,000 farm operators each year.

The data that is collected by the CEAP surveys, provide conservation tillage estimates and is used to model impacts of conservation practices on the larger environment. The summarized results of the survey are available in a web-based format to agricultural producers and professionals, government officials, and the general public.

CEAP: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/ceap
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-20578

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