To start or continue with AEM, farmers connect with their local Soil and Water Conservation District to progress through the confidential, AEM Conservation Tiers, below.
- Tier 1 – Inventory current activities, interests, and potential environmental concerns of the farmer.
- Tier 2 – Document current environmental stewardship and assess and prioritize areas of concern.
- Tier 3 – Develop conservation plans addressing concerns and opportunities tailored to farm goals.
- Tier 4 – Implement plans using available educational, technical, and financial assistance.
- Tier 5 – Evaluate practices and plans for conservation and farm viability.
AEM Tiers 1 and 2 are guided by farm-tested, science-based worksheets, based on conversations between farmers and conservation planners, and take a whole farm view. They are designed to identify priorities for more focused work based on the farmers’ interests and environmental opportunities. The interests and opportunities identified in Tier 1 and 2 worksheets then inform conservation planning in Tier 3, implementation of practices developed from the plan in Tier 4, and evaluation and updating of plans and practices in Tier 5. Farms that have completed AEM Tiers 1-3 are eligible for NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee cost share funding through the AEM Base, Climate Resilient Farming, and Agricultural Nonpoint Source programs.
Worksheets for Tiers 1 and 2 are linked from this resource page, below. Options for work in Tiers 3, 4, and 5 are discussed between farmers and planners and based on farmers’ decisions as they focus efforts to planning, practice implementation, and follow up. Tier 3 conservation plan types are based on the Tier 2 assessment and farmers’ interests to include component plan types such as farmstead, soil health, pasture, nutrient management, pest management, stream corridor, and forest conservation management as well as more comprehensive plan types such as comprehensive nutrient management plans and whole farm plans. Implementation of practices in Tier 4 is based on the farm-specific Tier 3 plan, the best management practice (BMP) systems outlined in the NYS Soil and Water Conservation Committee’s Agricultural BMP Systems Catalogue, and the farmers’ decisions. Tier 5 practice evaluations and plan updates are also performed with farmers by trained conservation planners from Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
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AEM Tier 1
This worksheet serves as an inventory of current activities, interests, and potential environmental or management concerns of the farmer. The worksheet is completed with farmers by the conservation planner to gain insight into their interests in further environmental planning should the farmer choose to move forward.
AEM Tier 1-2 Connection
The AEM Tier 1-2 Connection Worksheet links Tiers 1 and 2. This simple tool is used by conservation planners to select the Tier 2 Environmental Assessment Worksheets that are applicable for the farm based on discussions with the farmer and their interests and farm attributes identified in the Tier 1 worksheet.
AEM Tier 2
There are several Tier 2 Worksheets, of which, a set of specific worksheets are selected for each individual farm through completing the Tier 1-2 Connection Worksheet. Tier 2 Worksheets provide a confidential, science-based, and practical framework for conservation planners and farmers to document current environmental stewardship and assess and prioritize areas of concern. Each Tier 2 Worksheet addresses a specific environmental topic or farm management area with questions and prompts for the planner to complete through conversation with the farmer.
Core Tier 2 Worksheets
Equine Farm Specific Tier 2 Worksheets
Fruit and Vegetable Farm Specific Tier 2 Worksheets
Greenhouse Operation Specific Tier 2 Worksheets
Livestock and Poultry Farm Specific Tier 2 Worksheets
Vineyard Specific Tier 2 Worksheets
AEM Tier 2 Summary Report Template
Planners use the AEM Tier 2 Summary Report Template to follow up with farmers with a summary of discussions and notes from the on-farm Tier 2 Assessments. This report serves as a concise, yet whole farm summary document for farmers, setting the stage for AEM Tier 3 Conservation Planning.
Tier 1 and Tier 2 Worksheet Packet
All AEM Tier 1 and Tier 2 Worksheets and Tools combined into one PDF.
Contact the AEM Team
Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District to get involved. Soil and Water Conservation District contacts can be found here.