The Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET) is a free program offered through National Farmers Union (NFU) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). It is available to help Iowa farmers, ranchers and land owners improve their working lands conservation efforts, and consequently improve topsoil and nutrient retention, as well as safeguard Iowa’s waterways.

Ruth Rabinowitz is a farmer and landowner with a strong conservation ethic. She has used RSET to asses conservation performance on her land, identify additional options, and discuss her conservation priorities with farmers who rent her land.

RSET helped her identify potential changes that could be made for specific goals; RSET can facilitate a conversation starting with a goal like improving pollinator habitat or surface water quality on a participant’s property, then identifying conservation practices or installations, and modeling the benefits those changes can produce.

While Ruth was surprised to learn about the impact of some common production practices, she was excited to see how well some changes that had been carried out on her land performed. Waterways and buffers were already in place, but it was hard to know how much benefit they created. “I hadn’t thought about a grade,” Ruth said.

Ruth learned about RSET from an announcement Outreach Specialist Barb Stewart posted with an Iowa farm publication. She had to coordinate phone calls and shared documentation with farmers leasing the land in question, but when the records were in place the process took about six hours.

As Ruth’s experience shows, RSET can help landowners discuss conservation goals productively with farmers who work their land. Iowa farmers and landowners interested in RSET should contact Resource Stewardship Outreach Specialist Barb Stewart at

This material is based upon work supported by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, under number 69-6114-17-015.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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