USDA funds innovative approaches and technologies to improve conservation on private lands

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $15 million to conservation partners across the country for 19 new projects under the Conservation Innovation Grants program. These projects focus on helping agricultural producers mitigate the effects of climate change and increase the resilience of their operations. Many of the projects within this announcement will focus on providing conservation benefits for historically undeserved producers.

CIG is a competitive program that supports the development of new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. Through creative problem solving and innovation, CIG harnesses the expertise, resources, and capacity of partner organizations nationwide to help us boost natural resource conservation on private lands and support climate smart agriculture.”

“Innovation is key to addressing the climate crisis and conserving the natural resources we all depend on,” said NRCS Chief Terry Cosby. “CIG partners are using the latest science and research to come up with solutions that work for farmers, ranchers and foresters and help ensure the longevity of American agriculture.”

Funding priorities for this year included: climate-smart strategies for water resources; soil health (focused on climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience); nutrient management; grazing lands conservation; and strategies to increase conservation adoption.

This year’s awarded projects in The Fence Post readership areas:

Stewardship Ambassadors – Women Landowners Educating Farmers and Other Landowners to Motivate Conservation Change (Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin)

In order to expand the implementation of regenerative conservation practices, Women, Food and Agriculture Network will establish a stewardship ambassador program for women beginning farm owners.

Social Science to Drive Brush Management in the High Plains (Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma)

By identifying adoption barriers and addressing current perceptions on brush management Playa Lakes Joint Venture will improve management efforts of shrub encroachment on grasslands.

Increasing the Pace and Scale of Adoption of Prescribed Grazing through Virtual Fence Technology (Colorado, Oklahoma)

Oklahoma State University will increase producer adoption of virtual fencing through the development of standards and specifications for the technology to achieve water quality, wildlife and other conservation objectives.

Managing Rangelands with Virtual Fencing (Colorado)

Eagle County Conservation District will examine the use of virtual fencing on topographically challenging western rangeland areas to help improve acceptance and credibility.

Hemp4Soil: Growing Hemp Improves Soil Health and Helps Stabilize the Climate (Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia)

Heartland Corporate Holdings will introduce hemp as a cover crop in nine states and quantify its benefits.

Low-Tech Process Based In-Stream Structures to Increase Climate Resiliency in the Great Plains (Kansas, Nebraska)

Extreme weather in the Great Plains has led to increased stream erosion and aquifer depletion, decreased pasture quality and a reduction in wildlife habitat quality. By studying the effects of implementing low-tech process-based structures in the Midwest, Juniper Environmental will determine how best to implement these structures as a tool for producers.

For full project descriptions, visit the NRCS website.


The national CIG program has two parts: CIG Classic and CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Through CIG Classic, partners develop new tools, technologies and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. CIG On-Farm Trials support more widespread adoption of innovative approaches, practices and systems on working lands. NRCS and partners collaborate to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. In November, NRCS awarded $25 million for 18 On-Farm Trials projects.

USDA is a leader in using the latest science, research and conservation tools to reduce the impacts of climate change and is helping America’s farmers and ranchers conserve natural resources, like clean air and water, while supporting the health and resiliency of their operations for the future. CIG harnesses the expertise, resources and capacity of partner organizations nationwide to help boost natural resource conservation on private lands and support climate smart agriculture.

For more information about CIG, visit the NRCS website.


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