The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) announced it will begin conducting a survey for the 2011 National Resources Inventory (NRI) – Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). The survey will collect information from producers in the Chesapeake Bay watershed about farming and conservation practices on cultivated cropland. CEAP is a multi-agency effort to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices and programs and develop the science base for managing the agricultural landscape for environmental quality.

A CEAP study for the Great Lakes and their associated waterways released in October 2011 estimates that the use of conservation tillage and other conservation practices has resulted in a 50 percent decline in sediment entering rivers and streams, along with 36 and 37 percent declines, respectively, in phosphorus and nitrogen loading.

“CEAP is one on of the strongest and most advanced conservation tools used in American agriculture because it helps farmers and ranchers understand how to improve farming and management activities that help protect soil and water resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The information gathered on conservation practices in the Chesapeake Bay watershed will help contribute to the region’s sustainability, supporting those who rely on the land and water for livelihoods and recreation.”

Conservation practices help farmers and rural communities in the Chesapeake Bay watershed maintain productive farmland, protect the environment and restore the health of the Bay. Since the CEAP survey was last conducted in the region, farmers have adopted many agricultural best management practices using publicly available technical and financial assistance from conservation programs and through their own initiative and at their own expense. This survey will capture all of those on-farm conservation accomplishments.

The information gathered from the survey will help USDA improve and strengthen technical and financial programs that help private landowners plan and adopt on-farm conservation practices.

NASS representatives will visit more than 1,500 farms throughout Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia from November 2011 through January 2012. Producers will be asked to provide information on farm production practices; chemical, fertilizer and manure applications; integrated pest management; and adopted conservation practices. As with all NASS surveys, respondents are guaranteed by law that their individual information is kept confidential.

The CEAP cropland studies are designed to assess the effects of conservation practices on the nation’s cropland, grazing lands, wetlands, wildlife and watersheds. CEAP is led by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

For more information or questions about the CEAP survey, contact your local NASS Field Office or visit To learn more about CEAP, visit