What are Technical Standards?

SOC helps develop conservation standards, such as this practice of planting crops perpendicular to a field slope, which reduces erosion and increases water infiltration. Photo credit: NRCS

Technical standards, which are the focus of SOC’s work, are critical to soil and water conservation efforts in Wisconsin. These standards:

  • Ensure uniformity in conservation work
  • Minimize failure of installed practices
  • Protect our natural resources
  • Reduce risks, particularly to technical staff/agencies (liability), taxpayers (wasted grant funds), and landowners (liability/regulations/property damage)
  • Ensure that landowners are fairly treated

Technical standards are incorporated into federal, state and local programs, applying to a range of persons including farmers. They may be voluntary or legally required such as in these cases:

What is a Technical Standard?

A technical standard is a document that specifies the minimum criteria for a conservation practice or system of practices to provide a predicted benefit to soil and water resources. The minimum criteria can include the following:

  • Planning or Site Assessment Requirements
  • Performance Expectations
  • Design Parameters
  • Operation and Maintenance

Technical Standard Format
The above file contains a detailed description of each individual section within a technical standard.

In addition to formal standards issued by custodians, SOC may help develop supporting materials and documents used to ensure proper implementation of standards. The complexity of a standard and other factors will determine if and what kinds of supporting documents are needed. Companion documents are the main mechanisms that provide planning guidelines, design assistance, and specifics regarding standards. A technical note is a common companion document that may serve any of the above functions depending on the standard involved.