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NRCS Announces Deadline for Conservation Innovation Grants
Indiana Ag Connection - 01/03/2018

USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is offering grants for innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. NRCS plans to invest $10 million in the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, funding innovative conservation projects in three focus areas: grazing lands, organic systems and soil health. Grant proposals are due Feb. 26.

"Conservation Innovation Grant projects are important in helping NRCS develop and implement new methods to help our customers conserve and protect natural resources, strengthen their local communities, and improve their bottom lines," said Jane Hardisty, NRCS state conservationist in Indiana. "Many of these projects support our efforts here in Indiana to provide farmers the information and tools they need to make their land more productive and resilient."

CIG is funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and is available to individuals or groups who have ideas of how to accelerate the transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches that will address some of the nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. This year, NRCS is focusing funding on three areas:

- Grazing Lands: Helping livestock producers make grazing management decisions, encouraging prescribed burning as a grazing management practice, and improving access to conservation planning tools used for developing grazing management plans.

- Organic Agriculture Systems: Helping organic producers develop innovative cropping and tillage systems, edge-of-field monitoring, crop rotations, and intercropping systems.

- Soil Health: Supporting both cropping and grazing systems, in a variety of climatic zones, that incorporate soil health management systems for addressing specific resource concerns like nutrients and availability. Evaluating multiple soil health assessment methods to assist in the development of new soil health indicators and thresholds.

"Every sector of agriculture has its unique conservation challenges," said Hardisty. "CIG is helping us support new, innovative tools and techniques which will allow U.S. agriculture to lead the world in both production efficiency and conservation of our natural resources. I encourage those with promising ideas to take advantage of this grant opportunity."

Potential applicants should review the announcement of program funding available at www.grants.gov , which includes application materials and submission procedures. Up to 20 percent of CIG funds will be set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, military veteran farmers or groups serving these customers. Projects can last up to three years. The maximum award amount for any project this year is $2 million.

NRCS is hosting a webinar for potential CIG applicants on Jan. 11, 2018, at 4 p.m. Eastern. Information on how to join the webinar can be found on the NRCS CIG webpage.

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