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News Release

Grant Funds Will Improve Conservation On Agricultural Lands In Indiana

Indianapolis, IN, Sept. 16, 2013—Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist for Indiana’s USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today that four of the newly awarded national Conservation Innovation Grants will benefit Indiana. 

The four grant recipients are the Conservation Technology Information Center, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Women, Food and Agriculture Network, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the thirty-three grant award winners from across the nation. A total of $13.3 million will help develop and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas to accelerate private lands conservation. Funded projects will improve soil health, conserve energy, manage nutrients and enhance wildlife habitat in balance with productive agricultural systems. NRCS administers this competitive grants program.

According to Hardisty, the Conservation Technology Information Center will examine and expand on the benefits cover crops can provide farmers. As part of the project 1,000 acres of cover crops will be planted. “Some farmers are hesitant to plant cover crops because of the cost and management,” she said. “Projects like this one provide important information to help farmers try new approaches.”

“Cover crops are an important tool to help us improve soil health, scavenge nitrogen to improve water quality, and prevent flooding and runoff during spring and summer rains.”

The Women, Food, and Agriculture Network will reach out to women landowners in seven states who own or manage farmland with messages about improving soil health. The goal of the project is for these women to learn the basics of what constitutes healthy soil, simple soil testing methods, and best management practices to support healthy soil that they can discuss and adopt these strategies with their tenants. 

Hardisty said she is excited to see so many of this year’s grant recipients working on soil health, including projects in Indiana. “Innovation in this area will be key to helping farmers adapt practices that will mitigate extreme weather, sequester carbon, reduce flooding, and protect water quality," she said.

The Environmental Defense Fund is continuing a project in northeast Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota to demonstrate and document how NRCS and partners can design and implement a systems approach to agricultural conservation to achieve greater water quality improvements. 

A nationwide project by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities will analyze previous NRCS grants and use the results to provide guidance and tools to local watershed stakeholder groups improve the success and financial sustainability of incentive-based approaches to forested watershed projects. 

A full list of nationwide grant recipients is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/releases/?cid=stelprdb1186125

Conservation Innovation Grants are funded through the Farm Bill’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Grantees must work with producers and forestland owners to develop and demonstrate the new technologies and approaches.

At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient. For more on this grant program, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig or contact your local NRCS office.

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Contacts: 
Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317.295.5801 (jane.hardisty@in.usda.gov)
Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist, 317.295.5883 (jill.reinhart@in.usda.gov)
Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317.295.5825 (rebecca.fletcher@in.usda.gov)