USDA supports conservation planning software

The Agriculture Department has partnered with Deere & Co., of Moline, Ill., to provide agriculture management software that the government hopes will become a standard for conservation planning for producers and technical service providers, Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Bruce Knight said today.

The Conservation Plug-In, which will be available this fall, lets producers and technical service providers record farm and field data, schedule conservation practices, report completion of practices and attach certification documentation. It also will provide assistance for developing conservation plans.

“Not only will we see an increase in efficiency as part of the administration’s e-gov initiative, but also an increase in the number and quality of conservation plans,” Knight said. With the Conservation Plug-In, producers will be able to complete certain activities electronically, similar to e-filing tax returns.

Producers will spend less time at their local USDA Service Center and can self-certify when they have completed practices in their conservation plans. Technical service providers can manage conservation plans and cost-share agreement records for those producers using their services.

Agriculture will own the plug-in, which will be available to software providers through a memorandum of understanding to include in their suite of products for the agricultural user, said Jack Carlson, NRCS Information Technology Center Director. The plug-in is a conduit for data exchange between Agriculture and the users of the software. “Basically we need to have a standard product so providers don’t develop seven or eight iterations,” Carlson said.

The conservation software is part of a $2.5 million task order with lead contractor Computer Sciences Corp. under Agriculture’s ITSS Support 2 contract. John Deere Ag Solutions is a sub-contractor to CSC. Work on the plug-in is valued at $200,000, Carlson said.


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