The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production.
CIG projects are expected to lead to the transfer of conservation technologies, management systems, and innovative approaches (such as market-based systems) to agricultural producers, into NRCS technical manuals and guides, or to the private sector. CIG generally funds pilot projects, field demonstrations, and on-farm conservation research. On-farm conservation research is defined as an investigation conducted to answer a specific applied conservation question using a statistically valid design while employing farm-scale equipment on farms, ranches or private forest lands.
Innovative Conservation Projects or Activities
CIG funds the development and field testing, on-farm research and demonstration, evaluation, or implementation of:
- Approaches to incentivizing conservation adoption, including market-based and conservation finance approaches; and
- Conservation technologies, practices, and systems.
Projects or activities under CIG must comply with all applicable federal, tribal, state, and local laws and regulations throughout the duration of the project; and
- Use a technology or approach that was studied sufficiently to indicate a high probability for success;
- Demonstrate, evaluate, and verify the effectiveness, utility, affordability, and usability of natural resource conservation technologies and approaches in the field;
- Adapt and transfer conservation technologies, management, practices, systems, approaches, and incentive systems to improve performance and encourage adoption;
- Introduce proven conservation technologies and approaches to a geographic area or agricultural sector where that technology or approach is not currently in use. Technologies and approaches that are eligible for funding in a project’s geographic area using an EQIP contract for an established conservation practice standard are ineligible for CIG funding, except where the use of those technologies and approaches demonstrates clear innovation.
CIG Priorities for FY 2020
- Nutrient and Sediment Reduction in Impaired Watersheds
- Demonstrate effectiveness of “high potential” conservation practices (such as drainage management, wetlands designed for nutrient reduction, conservation buffers, cropping systems including cover crops, manure management, in-field nutrient management) in reducing nutrient leaching and runoff and document benefits in small watersheds;
- Demonstrate innovative irrigation water management techniques documenting water quality improvements and water savings associated with irrigation systems in Arkansas;
- Demostrate drone use with IWM uniformity and crop monitoring.
- Conduct in field trials for alternative crops that uses in field weather stations that can integrate Evapotranspiration data and soil moisture sensors. These trails should be able to evaluate real crop water use during alternative crop growth stages. Develop brochures to help producers incorporate both methods of IWM into to their farm practices.
- Development of an Evapotranspiration network to be used for alternative crops in order to better plan and manage irrigation events. Develop instructional documents for producers to incorporate evapotranspiration base scheduling into their Irrigation Water Management plans based on crop type. Example networks are mesonet used in Oklahoma.
- Irrigation Water Management project for alternative crops to provide more instructional documents to producers on how to use IWM devices to trigger irrigation for alternative crops. The documentation should indicate the number of devices needed, measurement depths, and how to use the device reading to know when to irrigate; base on crop and IWM device type.
- Demonstrate and quantify the impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, tillage and/or soil amendments on soil chemical, physical, and/or biological properties and their relationships with nutrient cycling, soil water availability, and plant growth in areas that have been land leveled in Arkansas;
- Quantifying Green House Emissions Assessment from Rice Production in Arkansas.
- Transfer and demonstration of row rice technology can improve soil health, reduce irrigation, and allow rice production to use no-till methods. Demonstration of the use 4 of soil health practices (i.e. cover crop, nutrient management, irrigation water management) in a row rice cropping system, including cost-benefit information and yields.
It is anticipated that a total of up to $300,000 in funding will be available for this announcement. The funding for a single award is $150,000.
NRCS accepts proposals for projects of one to three years in duration.
- All U.S.-based non-Federal entities (NFE) and individuals, with the exception of Federal agencies, are eligible to apply for projects carried out in Arkansas.
- Individuals and entities may submit more than one application and may receive more than one award.