Agricultural Soil Erosion Assessment for Virginia Conservationists

Joint Guidance on Training and Proficiency for NRCS and SWCD Staff

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) have decided to combine efforts on training and verifying proficiency of conservation staff on soil erosion issues. This webpage is your primary source of information about this partnership training program, including dates and details about upcoming training opportunities.

Note that while NRCS and DCR will be using the same training approach and materials, each maintain their own system for staff accreditation and continuing education. Staff should contact their appropriate agency contact with questions.

Chris Lawrence USDA
NRCS State Cropland Agronomist
Carl Thiel-Goin
DCR Conservation Planning
and Training Coordinator

There are THREE (3) key elements in the joint DCR-NRCS agricultural soil erosion training & proficiency program.


A. Erosion Fundamentals & RUSLE2 Background


B. In-field Erosion Risk Assessment and RUSLE2 Data Collection


C. Getting Results with RUSLE2 Erosion Assessment Software


These elements do not need to be completed in sequence, although it is recommended.

Element A: Erosion Fundamentals and RUSLE2 Background

How to Acquire Knowledge for Element A


  1. Watch these webinar recordings hosted by Chris Lawrence, State Cropland Agronomist with USDA-NRCS in Virginia.  Webinars are organized in two playlists, totaling ten videos
    • Total time: 3.5 hours
    • Longest video: 31 minutes.
    • Average video length: 20 minutes
  2. Download or bookmark the VA NRCS Erosion Resources Index found on the Virginia NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). Spend at least 30 minutes familiarizing yourself with Index items 1-7, 27, and 29.  Browse the titles and descriptions of these items in the Index.  Dig deeper by downloading and opening documents.  In some cases, digging deeper might be needed to answer certification test questions

How to Demonstrate Proficiency for Element A


Click this link to take your test online.

Click this link to download a hard-copy version of the test.

*Hard copy version provided if participants prefer to take their exam on paper; answers can be transcribed to the online version of the exam. If using the online exam system is not accessible or other accommodations are needed, reach out to Chris Lawrence at .

Element B: In-Field Erosion Risk Assessment & RUSLE2 Data Collection

How to Acquire Knowledge for Element B


2024 Field Training will be hosted in October. Details Pending.

How to Demonstrate Proficiency & Earn Certification for Element B

Sign Attendance Roster at Formal In-Field Training. Details Pending.

Element C: Getting Results with RUSLE2 Erosion Assessment Software

How to Acquire Knowledge & Demonstrate Proficiency for Element C


Learn by doing: The best way to develop proficiency with RUSLE2 is for you to set up and run the software on your own computer.  Therefore, we recommend that you work towards completing a “Basic RUSLE2 Plan Practical Exercise”. 

Follow instructions: The table below summarizes how to complete your Basic RUSLE2 Plan Practical Exercise (for a more detailed version of the same information, click here to download technical note on this subject).

Use self-study resources:  Learning by doing doesn’t mean jumping in unprepared.  The table below provides links to multiple technical notes and associated videos to help you work through each step. 

Get live expert help: See below for scheduled opportunities and contact info.

Submit for review (if desired): Follow procedures in table below if you wish to receive a certificate of completion.

Recommended Steps
(for more detailed version of this same information,
click here to download technical note on this subject)
Where to get instructions or help
1. Install & set up RUSLE2 on your computer.
Use current version of RUSLE2 & database with recently updated soils
Tech note video
2. Run RUSLE2 to create a basic “plan” printout
a. Plan your project & organize input data
Compare at least 2 managements across at least 3 slopes
(at least 6 total scenarios)
Tech note video
b. Find or build crop management files that you need Tech note video
c. Get results for your project using a single RUSLE2 “plan” calculation Tech note video
d. Print your results & create a project report
Use “VA Plan Printout w Details” print template, then add management
details & interpretation of results
Tech note video
3. Submit your RUSLE2 project for review (if desired) Tech note video
a. Let us know your project is coming by filling out this on-line form.
b. Submit your project as an email attachment. Send to
c. Monitor your email for response & help ensure your submission was
d. File your certificate of completion in a safe place after you receive it.

How to Get Additional Help

a. Upcoming Webinars

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

  • Developing & Demonstrating RUSLE2 Proficiency for VA SWCD Personnel
  • Hosted by VASWCD on Zoom
  • Taught by Chris Lawrence of VA NRCS
  • Click here to register

b. RUSLE2 @2PM Monday Office Hours

  • 2 pm to 4 pm every Monday in March thru June (except Memorial Day; 16 sessions total).
  • Open help sessions on RUSLE2 and any associated aspects of erosion assessment.
  • For VA NRCS & SWCD staff
  • Hosted by VA NRCS on MS Teams–click here to download access instructions

c. Request Group or Individual Assistance

  • Contact Chris Lawrence, VA NRCS State Cropland Agronomist
  • 804/356-0610