What does a Soil and Water Conservationist do?

Plan or develop coordinated practices for soil erosion control, soil or water conservation, or sound land use.

Jobs Roles

  • Develop or maintain working relationships with local government staff or board members.
  • Apply principles of specialized fields of science, such as agronomy, soil science, forestry, or agriculture, to achieve conservation objectives.
  • Plan soil management or conservation practices, such as crop rotation, reforestation, permanent vegetation, contour plowing, or terracing, to maintain soil or conserve water.
  • Monitor projects during or after construction to ensure projects conform to design specifications.
  • Revisit land users to view implemented land use practices or plans.
  • Coordinate or implement technical, financial, or administrative assistance programs for local government units to ensure efficient program implementation or timely responses to requests for assistance.
  • Analyze results of investigations to determine measures needed to maintain or restore proper soil management.
  • Survey property to mark locations or measurements, using surveying instruments.
  • Compute cost estimates of different conservation practices, based on needs of land users, maintenance requirements, or life expectancy of practices.
  • Provide information, knowledge, expertise, or training to government agencies at all levels to solve water or soil management problems or to assure coordination of resource protection activities.
  • Respond to complaints or questions on wetland jurisdiction, providing information or clarification.
  • Initiate, schedule, or conduct annual audits or compliance checks of program implementation by local government.
  • Manage field offices or involve staff in cooperative ventures.
  • Review or approve amendments to comprehensive local water plans or conservation district plans.
  • Review proposed wetland restoration easements or provide technical recommendations.
  • Review grant applications or make funding recommendations.
  • Conduct fact-finding or mediation sessions among government units, landowners, or other agencies to resolve disputes.
  • Review annual reports of counties, conservation districts, or watershed management organizations, certifying compliance with mandated reporting requirements.
  • Provide access to programs or training to assist in completion of government groundwater protection plans.
  • Calculate or compare efficiencies associated with changing from low-precision irrigation technologies, such as furrow irrigation, to high-precision technologies, such as computer-controlled systems.
  • Implement soil or water management techniques, such as nutrient management, erosion control, buffers, or filter strips, in accordance with conservation plans.
  • Enter local soil, water, or other environmental data into adaptive or web-based decision tools to identify appropriate analyses or techniques.
  • Evaluate or recommend geographic information systems (GIS) applications to address issues such as surface water quality, groundwater quality, ecological risk assessments, air quality, or environmental contamination.
  • Compute design specifications for implementation of conservation practices, using survey or field information technical guides or engineering manuals.
  • Compile or interpret biodata to determine extent or type of wetlands or to aid in program formulation.
  • Advise land users, such as farmers or ranchers, on plans, problems, or alternative conservation solutions.
  • Gather information from geographic information systems (GIS) databases or applications to formulate land use recommendations.
  • Identify or recommend integrated weed and pest management (IPM) strategies, such as resistant plants, cultural or behavioral controls, soil amendments, insects, natural enemies, barriers, or pesticides.
  • Visit areas affected by erosion problems to identify causes or determine solutions.
  • Develop, conduct, or participate in surveys, studies, or investigations of various land uses to inform corrective action plans.
  • Develop water conservation or harvest plans, using weather information systems, irrigation information management systems, or other sources of daily evapotranspiration (ET) data.
  • Develop or conduct environmental studies, such as plant material field trials or wildlife habitat impact studies.
  • Participate on work teams to plan, develop, or implement programs or policies for improving environmental habitats, wetlands, or groundwater or soil resources.
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