From corn farmers to vegetable growers to graziers, all farmers have an interest in land stewardship. Practical Farmers’ conservation and habitat program brings our farmer-led approach to on-farm, working lands conservation. In general, our work is divided into four major functional areas: in-field conservation, edge-of-field conservation, grazing and pasture-lands conservation, and set-aside. Scroll down to explore each area and learn more about Practical Farmers’ conservation and habitat programming.

Clark Porter submitted by him 602x727“When I think about the most joyful times I’ve had out at my farm, it’s when I’ve seen some wildlife—a deer, or a fox or coyote. The habitat provides some of the most meaningful moments and helps you make the connection with your land in a way that nothing else does.”

-Clark Porter

WendyJohson fromHelenGunderson“We want our daughter – and other kids – to live on this planet for a long time, and the best way is to be good stewards of the land and take conservation seriously.”

-Wendy Johnson, PFI board president, Charles City, IA

Functional Areas

In-Field Conservation

Just like it sounds, in-field conservation refers to conservation practices that are implemented within a production field. Such practices might include: no-till/strip-till; cover crops; manure management; extended crop rotations; precision nutrient management; and integrated pest management strategies.

Practical Farmers has a long history of promoting, researching, and sharing stories and science related to in-field conservation practices. Some selected articles, reports, and blogs related to in-field conservation include:

Learn more about PFI’s Cover Crops program.

Edge-of-Field Conservation

In addition to its in-field conservation programming and research, Practical Farmers’ members have recently expressed more interest in edge-of-field conservation. Common edge-of-field conservation practices include: buffer strips; filter strips; riparian buffers; constructed wetlands; water and sediment control basins; drainage water control structures; bioreactors; and saturated buffers. Selected articles, reports, and blogs related to edge-of-field conservation include:

Grazing and Pasture Conservation

Although conservation within grazing and pasture systems is often classified as in-field conservation, managing pasture-based grazing operations for conservation benefits presents unique challenges and opportunities. Selected articles, reports, and blogs related to grazing and pasture-land conservation include:


Set-aside generally refers to the act of removing land from production, either for a specific time period or permanently. Many easement programs associated with the U.S. Farm Bill can be considered set-aside programs. Set-aside usually incorporates varying types of perennial cover and can either consist of large chunks of land or smaller pieces distributed across a farm. When designed and located appropriately, set-aside can have tremendous benefits for on-farm conservation and risk management. Selected articles, reports, and blogs related to set-aside include:

Other PFI Resources

The Latest from PFI on Conservation & Habitat

Non-PFI Resources

Technical Assistance and Financial Assistance

The following organizations provide technical and/or financial assistance to individuals seeking to restore, manage, and improve habitat and conservation practices on privately-owned lands. Click each link below for more information and contact information for each organization.

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS):

USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA):

Iowa Department of Natural Resources:

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach:

Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation:

Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever:

Other organizations that offer conservation resources:

Contact Information

For more information about on-farm conservation efforts: contact Jorgen Rose at