Sample CAP 138 Plan

CAP 138: Conservation Plan Supporting Organic Transition



A Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) Supporting Organic Transition is a conservation plan outlining management practices that will assist producers/growers in the transition from conventional farming or ranching systems to an organic production system.


Thinking About Growing Organic?  You Need a CAP 138.

The Conservation Activity Plan Supporting Organic Transition will:

  •  Address Natural Resource get-a-capConservation Service (NRCS) resource concerns for soil erosion and quality, water quality, and plant/animal health on the farm by developing a farm stewardship plan.
  • Develop the linkage between NRCS resource concerns and the National Organic Program (NOP) standards for organic farming.  This linkage is possible because NRCS and NOP share many of same concerns related to farming in an environmentally sustainable manner.
  • Assist the grower in developing their Organic System Plan (OSP) as defined in the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Standards.
  • Identify and provide detail for specific conservation practices, such as nutrient management, cover cropping, rotations, and pollinator habitat that are appropriate to the transitioning farm.  As a transitioning organic farmer, you are eligible for many of these conservation practices, which can be implemented with financial assistance from NRCS.

CFSA Now Has a Technical Service Provider Who Can Do Your CAP 138 AT NO COST*

*actually, you get money back!

There is more money available for CAP 138 plans and organic conservation practices than is being awarded to transitioning and organic farmers. That means farmers ARE LEAVING MONEY AND THIS AWESOME RESOURCE ON THE TABLE!

So, to encourage more farmers to apply for 2015 funding, we’re showing you just how much this CAP 138 can do for your farm business by allowing you to download many of the elements of a SAMPLE FARM plan.  The whole document is over 100 pages long, but these are the best parts. 



  • Detailed farm maps


  • Resource concerns and Conservation practices 


In this sample farm plan, CFSA identified several resource concerns, including practices that could result in soil erosion and organic matter depletion, lack of irrigation for farm crops, potential off-farm nutrient movement, suboptimal productivity and potential pest problems.  We recommended a comprehensive rotation, a water well and micro-irrigation system, cover crops for N fertility, conservation cover for beneficial insect and pollinator habitat, mulching, a high tunnel, and a rotational grazing pasture. We included a nutrient management plan for the producer.

Now, this farmer can apply for NRCS cost-share funding to implement these conservation practices on his or her farm!


  • Vegetable Rotation Plans

DOWNLOAD – Vegetable Rotation and Cover Cropping Plan – SAMPLE FARM

For this farm, CFSA developed an 8-year vegetable and cover crop rotation plan for all eight vegetable production fields. For example, in year one, field 1a, we recommend planting sweet corn; winter biomass is provided by rye, summer biomass by buckwheat .  We include cover crop plant dates and kill dates.  In the second year, the farmer will plant peppers, following a rye and vetch winter cover crop. There’s no summer cover crop that year, but in the fall an oats/rye/radish will be planted. The third year is watermelon followed by a sunn hemp summer cover crop. Five more cropping years follow

NRCS has funds available to underwrite cover cropping practices on organic vegetable farms.


  • Crop Rotation Plans

DOWNLOAD – Crops Rotation and Cover Cropping Plan – SAMPLE FARM

Like the vegetable rotation schedule above this plan provides a cover cropping rotation plan for crops.  For example, in field 5a, CFSA recommends planting corn grain as the first crop with a double crop of wheat.  The winter source biomass is provided by rye and the recommended summer cover is cowpea (corn/cowpea/wheat).  We include cover crop plant dates and kill dates.  The next year, the plan is to double crop canola following the wheat. A soybean/millet summer cover crop provides N for the canola.

 NRCS has funds available to underwrite cover cropping practices on organic row crop farms.


  • Nutrient management plans for cropping components

DOWNLOAD – Nutrient Management Plan for SAMPLE FARM – REPORT (.pdf)

Overall, the nutrient management plan for the farm includes these components: 1) use of poultry litter when soil phosphorus (P) content and timing of application relative to harvest permit; 2) use of legume cover crops, both winter and summer annual, for fixation of nitrogen (N) for use by subsequent crops; 3) green manuring with legumes, grasses and forbs to improve soil quality, hence production; 4) rotations to efficiently utilize nutrients and promote crop health; and 5) use of commercially available organic fertilizer materials to meet crops nutrient requirements when necessary, including soluble fertilizers
injected into drip lines.


  • Nutrient budgets and risk assessments

DOWNLOAD: SAMPLE FARM Ginger High Tunnel Nutrient Budget Worksheet (.pdf)

SAMPLE FARM Tomato and Baby Greens High Tunnel Nutrient Budget  Worksheet (.pdf)

Sample Farm is interested in trying ginger, tomatoes and baby-greens in high-tunnels, so CFSA researched these vegetables’ nutrient needs and developed recommendations for P, K, Total N, Pre-plant N and Side-dress N. We did some math for the farmer to calculate application rates (per 100 square feet or row feet) for NOP approved inputs, such as feathermeal, Nature Safe, Harmony, rock phosphate, bone meal and others.

High Tunnels are another excellent cost-share opportunity through the NRCS.  


  • Detailed soil report

DOWNLOAD – Custom Soil Report – SAMPLE FARM (.pdf)

For this farm, CFSA identified the types of soil on the farm, created soil maps, and evaluated soil erosion risk. Soil physical properties, qualities and features and soil water characteristics are included in the report.


  • Erosion reports

DOWNLOAD – SAMPLE FARM Erosion Report (.pdf)

This is an important component of the plan used to identify resource concerns and develop conservation management recommendations.  For example, on this farm, solutions to resource concerns include pollinator habitat, warm season grass field borders, long-term 8-year vegetable crop rotations, hybrid bermuda grass pasture for rotational grazing and high tunnels.


The CAP 138 also includes: 

  • Pollinator habitat management plan
  • Management calendars
  • Job sheets for implementing conservation practices


Another Selling Point: Your CAP 138 Practically Writes Your Organic System Plan For You!

While the plan can help support a producer’s efforts to become a certified operation, it is not a replacement for an Organic System Plan (OSP) as required by the National Organic Program. However, it can significantly contribute to the development of that plan.


Did We Mention that You Get A Rebate for Completing a CAP 138?  

You Get Money to Do the Plan and the Plan Helps You Qualify for Additional NRCS Cost-Share Money for Implementing Identified Conservation Practices.

The CAP 138 is funded through the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP-OI). CFSA has a Technical Service Provider (TSP) on staff who is certified by NRCS to write CAP 138 plans for transitioning producers. For more information about applying for a CAP 138, see


The EQIP-OI pays for TSP’s to write CAPs. Payments for CAPs are made directly to CFSA. Because CFSA has a paid certified Technical Service Provider on staff, CFSA is able to provide a cash rebate to producers who contract with CFSA to do a CAP plan. The value of the rebate varies, depending on the CAP, the producer’s experience and background and any associated lab fees. CAP cash rebates from CFSA to producers are shown in the table below. The rebate is normally distributed within 30 days of receipt of payment from NRCS to CFSA.


CAP 104 – Nutrient Management, less than 100 acres $565.53 $898.63
CAP 104 – Nutrient Management, 100 acres of more $565.53 $898.63
CAP 138 – Organic Transition $532.52 $859.02

***minus associated lab fees.


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