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HELC Compliance Training. Highly Erodible Land Conservation Compliance June 2005. HELC Compliance Training. Part 1 -- General Information Part 2 -- Making Determinations Part 3 -- Conservation Systems. Part 1 -- General Information. Statutory Authority.

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HELC Compliance Training

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Helc compliance training

HELC Compliance Training

Highly Erodible Land Conservation Compliance

June 2005

Helc compliance training1

HELC Compliance Training

  • Part 1 -- General Information

  • Part 2 -- Making Determinations

  • Part 3 -- Conservation Systems

Part 1 general information

Part 1 -- General Information

Statutory authority

Statutory Authority

  • 16 U.S.C. (United States Code) Section 3801; 3811-3813; 3821-3824; The Food Security Act of 1985, as amended

Governing regulations

Governing Regulations

  • 7 CFR Part 12, Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (Interim-Final Rule 9/6/1996)

  • 7 CFR 610, Subpart B, Soil Erosion Prediction Equations

Agency policy

Agency Policy

  • NRCS – National Food Security Act Manual (NFSAM)


    • 4th Edition, (online) Parts 510, 511, 512, 518, 519, and 520 (HELC and Compliance/Quality Reviews)

    • 3rd Edition, (paper only) Parts 513, 514, 515, 516, 517, 522, 523, 524, 525, 526, 527 (WC and Exhibits and Appendices)

Fsa policy

FSA Policy

  • FSA Handbook, 6-CP

  • Supplemental Handbooks include:

    • 2-CP – Acreage and Compliance

    • 2-CM – Farm Reconstitutions

    • 8-LP – Loans and Deficiency Payments

    • 1-DAP – Disaster Programs

    • 3-CM – Farm, Tract, & Crop Data


Part 2 making hel determinations

Part 2 -- Making HEL Determinations

Hel determinations

Must use the soil prediction equations that were in use as of 1/1/90 USLE and/or WEQ, whichever is applicable to your area.

Part 511 – NFSAM; (7 CFR 610.14(a); 7 CFR 12.21(a)(3))

Step 1 --

HEL Determinations

Factor values to use

Factor Values to Use

  • The factor values for the soils that were in place in the FOTG as of 1/1/90 must be used in making HEL determinations ONLY including the following:

    • Soil loss tolerance (T factors)

    • Soil erosion factors (K factors for USLE; I factors for WEQ)

    • Climate factors (R factors for USLE; C factors for WEQ)

Erodibility index ei

Erodibility Index (EI)

  • Soil Erodibility Index - The soil erodibility index (EI) is the measure selected to determine whether a soil map unit is highly erodible.

    NFSAM, 511.01(a); 7 CFR 12.21(a)

Ei calculation

EI Calculation

  • Sheet and Rill Erosion (USLE) ̶

    ( R x K x LS) ÷ T = EI

  • Wind Erosion (WEQ) ̶

    ( C x I ) ÷ T = EI

    NFSAM, 511.01(c); 7 CFR 610.14(a); 7 CFR 12.21(b)

Hel nhel


  • HEL Field =

    • Is equal to 33.33 percent HEL soils or more of the acreage in the field, or

    • Is 50 or more HEL soil acres in the field. 

  • NHEL Field =

    • Is less than 33.33 percent HEL soil acres

      (NFSAM is currently incorrect)

      NFSAM, 511.11(c); 7 CFR 12.22(a)

Potential erodibility pe

Potential Erodibility (PE)

  • Sheet and Rill Erosion (using USLE): PE = R x K x LS where:

    •    R = rainfall and runoff.

    •    K = susceptibility of the soil to water erosion.

    •    LS = the combined effects of slope length and steepness.

Potential erodibility pe1

Potential Erodibility (PE)

  • Wind Erosion (using WEQ): PE = C x I, where:

    •    C = climatic characterization of wind speed and

      surface soil moisture expressed as a percentage.

    •    I = the susceptibility of to wind erosion.

      NFSAM, 511.01(b)

Re determinations


Field boundaries redefinitions

Field Boundaries & Redefinitions

  • NRCS will make determinations in response to a YES answer for questions 8, 9, or 10 on the AD–1026. (Now questions 9 & 10

  • Determinations will be made for each field assigned a separate field number.

  • Separate determinations will not be made for subfields

Ad 1026 question 8 now question 9

AD-1026, question 8 (now question 9)

“During the crop year entered in Item 3 above, or the term of a requested USDA loan, did or will you plant or produce an agricultural commodity on land for which a highly erodible determination has not been made?”

Field definition

Field -- Definition

  • A field is defined as a part of a farm that is separated from the balance of the farm by permanent boundaries, such as fences, permanent waterways, woodlands, and croplines (in cases where farming practices make it probable that the cropline is not subject to change).

    NFSAM, 511.11(a); 7 CFR 12.2(a)



  • Determination for fields containing conservation practices that appear to subdivide a field, such as field strips or terraces, shall be made for the entire field, not for the individual strip, terrace, or grassed waterway.

    NFSAM 511.10(a)

Hel determinations sodbuster

HEL Determinations & Sodbuster

  • When land is broken out of NATIVE vegetation, (either of the following):

    • Hardwood Trees

    • Prairie Grass Vegetation

  • And Sodbuster has been indicated on the aerial photograph by FSA with an “X”

Nrcs cpa 026


  • Electronic version in “ToolKit”

  • Use the NRCS-CPA-026 for the following:

    • Providing a new HEL or Wetland Determination

    • Providing a revised HEL or Wetland Determination

    • Correcting an erroneous HEL or Wetland Determination

Disposition of nrcs cpa 026

Disposition of NRCS-CPA-026

  • Disposal schedule for HELC/WC (180-13) is located in GM-120, Part 408

  • All current and superseded NRCS-CPA-026’s must remain in the case file with the appropriate tract/FSN

  • All superseded NRCS-CPA-026’s will be marked as such with the replacement date

Determinations and redefinitions

Determinations and Redefinitions

Helc compliance training

NFSAM, 511.12(a)

Conservation systems

Conservation Systems

Soil Protection Requirements

Conservation plan or system

Conservation Plan or System?

  • Conservation Plans are desired, but not required in normal circumstances.

  • Required conservation plans after certain variances & exemptions.

  • Sodbuster does NOT require a conservation plan just because it is a sodbuster.

  • When a USDA participant requests a plan, NRCS must, by regulation, provide such.

Conservation systems1

Conservation Systems

  • Conservation Plans and Conservation Systems may be developed:

    • At the request of the participant.

    • By qualified NRCS employees;

    • By qualified District employees;

    • By qualified TSP’s or third parties; or

    • By the participant.

When is a plan required

When is a Plan Required?

  • After an HEL violation and prior to reinstatement.

  • Following FSA’s granting an exemption of Good Faith.

  • Following NRCS’s granting of a variance from a violation found during the normal provision oftechnical assistance (not during a compliance review).

Nrcs cpa 027


  • NRCS is not required to provide annual or other certification of compliance with the conservation plan or conservation system.

  • The NRCS-CPA-027 is only required to be executed when a conservation plan is required (see the previous slide).

  • The NRCS-CPA-027 must be executed when the USDA participant:

    • Agrees to the plan by signature, and

    • When the system in the plan has been fully applied.

Erosion protection requirements

Erosion Protection Requirements

Conservation systems must meet the specific soil protection requirements for the site and situation (sodbust/non-sodbust):

  • Substantial Reduction – non sodbuster

  • No Substantial Increase -- sodbuster

Helc compliance training

NFSAM, 512.01(d & e)

Substantial increase definition

Substantial Increase Definition

When developing a conservation system for land converted from native vegetation there must not be:

Any soil erosion level that is greater than the sustainable level (soil loss tolerance – [T]) of the predominant HEL soil mapping unit in the HEL field.

  • In cases of determining substantial increase, the LS factor will be determined in the field.

    NFSAM, 512.01(f)

Conservation system components

Conservation System Components

The conservation system shall include all treatments and measures needed to meet the HELC requirements, including treatment required—

  • To result in a substantial reduction in erosion or…

  • To prohibit a substantial increase in erosion.

  • For the control of—

    • Sheet and rill erosion

    • Wind erosion

    • Ephemeral gully erosion

System standards

System Standards

Conservation systems must be based on the following:

  • Local resource conditions.

  • Available conservation system technology.

  • The standards and guidelines contained in the local FOTG.

    NFSAM, 512.01(b)

Documentation of a system

Documentation of a System

As a minimum, planning documentation should include the following:

  • Description of the system being applied.

  • Before and after soil loss calculations, including all the factor values used to determine the soil loss.

  • Conservation practices necessary to meet the minimum system requirements of the FOTG.

    NFSAM, 512.02(b)

Approval levels

Approval Levels

  • Field office employees may approve systems where erosion does not exceed 2T (two times the tolerable erosion rate).

  • State Conservationists may approve systems that have a predicted erosion rate of 2T but not to exceed 4T (four times the tolerable erosion rate).

    NFSAM, 512.02(c)

Using rusle


  • Conservation systems developed using USLE or RUSLE I, will be recalculated using RUSLE II to establish the new soil loss value for the conservation system.

  • USLE factor values will not be used in RUSLE calculations.

Using rusle1


  • RUSLE estimates will not be compared to USLE estimates.

  • RUSLE soil-loss estimates must be used to make comparisons with actual RUSLE soil losses determined during a conservation system review or a Compliance Status Review. (See NFSAM, Part 518.)

Using rusle2


  • Where maximum USLE or RUSLE1 CP values have been used to establish an acceptable HEL conservation system, a corresponding current version of RUSLE soil loss must be established for the same system.

  • All new conservation systems will be developed and/or evaluated using the current version of RUSLE.

    NFSAM, 512.03

Technical requirements

Technical Requirements

  • The revised HEL conservation system must meet current requirements of NFSAM, 7 CFR 12, Subpart B, and the FOTG.

  • (See NFSAM, Part 512, Subpart A).

    NFSAM, 512.04

Planning requirements

Planning Requirements

Conservation plans will:

  • Meet the HELC requirements in the provisions;

  • Will be developed according to the policy and procedures in the following NRCS policy documents:

    • GM-180, Part 409 Conservation Planning Policy.

    • National Planning Procedures Handbook (NPPH)

    • GM-450, Part 401

    • NFSAM, Part 512, Subpart B

    • FOTG requirements of the FOTG in use at the time the plan is developed.

      NFSAM, 512.10

System o m

System O & M

  • Once a practice is applied, the HELC provisions require that the conservation system (including all practices required to maintain the substantial reduction or no substantial increase) must be maintained.

System o m1

System O & M

  • The functional life of a practice starts with construction and ends when it fails to provide the benefits it was designed to provide.

    NFSAM, 512.21

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