Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems

TSP Training Program in Five Elements

farmer using an iPad in a field

  1. NRCS AgLearn Courses 
  2. CRARS Professional Course Series Modules
  3. Conservation Activity Plan (CAP) training 
  4. Conservation Practice design and implementation workshops 
  5. CAP development, submittal and review support within multiple categories of certification

Element 2: CRARS Professional Course Series 

Conservation Partners pursuing certification would complete core modules from the following three courses (highlighted inbold) and choose additional content appropriate to the specific resource category of interest.

Course #1: Systems Theory and Practice Modules 

1. Introduction to systems management: challenging paradigms 

2. Processes and principles: Introduction to agroecosystems and soil health 

3. Minimizing soil disturbance: no-till, strip-till, etc.

4. The benefits of biomass: cover crops & crop rotation 

5. Biological applications: the link between soil, plants and animals 

6. Annual cropping systems (row crop, pasture) 

7. Perennial cropping systems (rangelands, orchards,  vineyards) 

8. Agroforestry systems (timber) 

9. Incorporating and managing livestock through adaptive planned grazing 

10. Economic view of systems management: short- and long-term return on investment 

11. Conservation through partnerships: opportunities and engaging effectively 

Course #2: Soil Health Systems Modules 

1. Basics of soil health: degradation and restoration 

2. Organic matter: the living, the dead, and the very dead part of soil 

3. Physical nature of soils: the what, where, and how of soil formation and loss 

4. Soils and plants: biological, chemical, and physical property influences on plant health 

5. Nutrient management: considering source, rate, time, and place when using livestock and plant waste to build soil health 

6. Irrigation technology and management strategies 

7. Soil testing and monitoring: what and when 

Course #3: Farm/Ranch/Forestry Planning and Design Modules 

1. Managing complex systems: establishing context to set goals with a vision 

2. Farm, ranch or forest assessment: resources and inventories from the ground up 

3. Tools for enhancing resources within agroecosystems: a review of conservation practices and effects 

4. Whole farm, ranch or forest planning: enhancing resources and meeting goals 

5. The decision making process: putting a conservation plan into action 

6. The carbon lens: evaluating a farm or ranch plan for GHG benefits 

7. Economic evaluations of farm, ranch or forest plans 

8. Monitoring for adaptive management 

9. Capstone: Implementing a whole farm, ranch or forest plan

Element 3: Conservation Activity Plan Training 

CAP-specific trainings will be provided through coordinated efforts between NRCS specialists, CRARS and other conservation partners. These offerings will be completed in a combination of virtual and in-person settings, depending on travel and gathering allowances. 

Key elements of CAP trainings will be the completion of resource inventory, assessment and evaluation tools; components of each CAP template and applications within CA along with appropriate monitoring strategies for the different resource categories and land use types. 

With an increase in the number of conservation partners engaging in providing assistance to farmers, ranchers and non-industrial timber owners, the TSP program, along with the planning opportunity of CAPs, provides a framework for coordinated and thorough assistance that is technically sound and relevant to current landowner needs. We believe the demand for TSP services is rising and having a trained network of community-based TSPs that are certified in multiple resource categories will do much to advance working lands conservation in CA.


Conservation Activity Plans

Forest Management Plan

Determination of forestry-related conservation activities based upon resource inventories and landowner objectives, including forest type, timber and livestock production suitability, wildlife habitat, riparian/wetland resources, soil and air resources.

Grazing Management Plan

Considerations for using livestock to address resource concerns and enhance landscape productivity through timing, intensity and duration of grazing along with logistical factors, including facilitating infrastructure.

Soil Health Management Plan

Determining conservation activities as part of a management system to address soil health concerns and determine enhancement opportunities related to the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil.

Nutrient Management Plan

Integrated nutrient management for productivity and addressing resource concerns and opportunities, in context of growing season, soil type and condition, irrigation, runoff potential, soil biology and other factors.

Fish & Wildlife/ Pollinator Habitat Plan

Incorporating activities into land management systems for the improvement, restoration, enhancement, or expansion of habitat elements that support native and/or managed fish, wildlife, and pollinators.

Carbon Farm Plan

Identifying opportunities and strategies for carbon sequestration and GHG reduction on working landscapes through the Conservation Planning Process using a carbon lens.

Element 4: Conservation Practice Design & Implementation

A series of workshops, planned in coordination with NRCS specialists, hosted by CRARS and partners, and led by producers and planners with experience with each practice will provide additional knowledge-building opportunities on specific conservation practices or sets of practices. These sessions will focus on addressing resource concerns through practice implementation: what, when, where, why and how to install, initiate and maintain practices, along with determining associated and complementary practices based on examples from various regions of CA and site-specific conditions.

Following plan development and practice selection, broader support for practice design and implementation of selected conservation practices will generate improved conservation outcomes and increased likelihood of sustained and expanded practice adoption by producers. A few examples of the content that would be delivered by practice are in the list below.

  • Hedgerow establishment: resource concerns being addressed, site preparation, plant selection and spacing, associated practices (e.g. irrigation, mulching, fencing), weed management, maintenance.
  • Range planting: resource concerns being addressed, site preparation, seed selection, planting strategy and timing, fencing considerations, when to rest and when to graze, other challenges.
  • Cover cropping: resource concerns being addressed, site preparation, seed selection, planting method and timing, irrigation (if necessary), termination method and equipment.

Element 5: CAP Development and Review 

Individuals seeking TSP certification will develop 2 CAPs for review. Plans will need to be submitted for each resource category that certification is being sought for. They will need to meet current CAP criteria, cover two separate locations, and demonstrate understanding of the applicable resource inventory tools, the planning process, addressing resource concerns through appropriate conservation practices and strategies, and working effectively with landowners.