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Conservation Innovation Grants

The Conservation Innovation Grant program (CIG) is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals.

CIG enables NRCS to work with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. CIG will benefit agricultural producers by providing more options for environmental enhancement and compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG. The CIG requires a 50-50 match between the agency and the applicant.

Maryland 2015 CIG

NRCS will accept proposals for single or multiyear projects, not to exceed three years, submitted by eligible entities from Maryland.  Eligible entities include Indian Tribes, State and local units of government, non-governmental organizations, and individuals.

Proposals that demonstrate the use of innovative technologies and/or approaches to address at least one bolded topic listed below will be considered. Proposals must identify the most appropriate bolded topic the innovation/technology is addressing. While NRCS is interested in receiving proposals for each bolded topic below, special interest is placed on receiving proposals that address topics identified as a “Priority Need.” Additional topics (not listed below) will be considered.

1. Nutrient Management

Priority Need:

  • Demonstrate and quantify the optimal combinations of nutrient source, application rate, placement, and application timing (4 R's- Right Source; Right Rate; Right Time; Right Place), as measured by impact on nutrient use efficiency and yield for one or more of the following: corn, soybeans, wheat, vegetables, hay/pasture, cotton, and/or rice. Demonstrations are encouraged that show how these optimal combinations change for one or more of the following comparisons: irrigated vs. non-irrigated management; tillage vs. reduced tillage systems; manure-amended vs. non manure-amended systems; and/or organic vs. conventional production systems.

Priority Need:

  • Demonstrate application of and procedures for refining the usefulness of the Phosphorus Index for reducing P loss across a range of soil, topographic, climatic, crop, or management conditions.

Priority Need: 

  • Develop and demonstrate a process for rapid and precise Comprehensive Nutrient Management Plans (CNMP’s) on Dairy operations.
  • Demonstrate new and innovative advances in precision farming technologies related to low disturbance fertilizer injection and quantify the effects on nutrient use efficiency, yield, and producer risk.
  • Demonstrate feed management, or adoption of new or novel feedstuffs or additives, and quantify their impact on manure nutrient content.
  • Demonstrate and quantify the effectiveness of bundling conservation measures to avoid, control, and trap nutrient losses from the field.
  • Demonstrate and quantify the effectiveness of Enhanced Efficiency Fertilizer products; including inhibitors, delayed release products, or biological solutions; on yield and nutrient use efficiency.
  • Demonstrate and quantify the effectiveness of methods to capture dissolved phosphorus from field runoff and subsurface drainage.
  • Demonstrate the applicability and utility of in-season nitrogen management tools for determining additional nutrient needs for a range of soils, climates and/or cropping systems.
  • Compile, summarize, and develop appropriate recommendations from the peer-reviewed literature on projects demonstrating and quantifying the application of various management practices, models, and/or other tools for increasing nitrogen use efficiency by crops.
  • Demonstrate effective outreach programs for delivering technical assistance to underserved populations for implementing whole farm strategies to reduce nutrient/sediment losses.

2. Soil Health

Priority Need:

  • 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.

Priority Need:

  • Demonstrate and quantify the rate of increase in available soil water holding capacity as a function of soil properties, management practices (e.g. tillage, amendments, crop residue inputs), and/or climate.
  • Demonstrate innovative seeding methods of cover crops and multiple species cover crop mixes to allow for earlier establishment and increased biomass production.
  • Demonstrate the effects of grazing management of cover crop mixes on soil chemical, physical and biological properties health and water quality.
  • Demonstrate and quantify differences in nutrient and available water holding capacity of a soil system resulting from long-term no-till with cover crops compared to systems using tillage or rotational tillage.

3. Wildlife

Priority Need:

  • Develop planning and decision aids to assess and maximize endangered and threatened wildlife habitat, specifically.
  • Demonstrate and quantify the impacts of grazing as a habitat management tool.
  • Demonstrate technologies to control the spatial positioning and social groupings of cattle without fences.
  • Develop strategies to integrate pollinator habitat management into the agricultural working lands matrix to promote holistic, ecosystem-based conservation plans that support the full suite of ecosystem services.

Proposal Deadline: August 12, 2015 before 2:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

Proposals sent via express mail, overnight courier service or the United States Postal Service must be sent to the following address:

Attn: Denise Brooks
CIG Program: USDA-NRCS-MD-15-001
339 Busch's Frontage Road, Suite 301
Annapolis, MD 21409
Phone: (443) 482-2917

Proposals sent electronically must be sent through only.

The announcement number for this CIG funding opportunity is USDA-NRCS-MD-15-001.  All information for the announcement can be found on the following web site:

For Archival Purposes Only

Maryland FY2012 CIG Program Announcement (Request for Proposals - RFP)


NRCS Field Offices, located in the USDA Service Centers in each Maryland county, can provide additional details and program assistance concerning CIG eligibility requirements, practices, and payments. Additional information can be found at the national CIG website.

Program Contact

Mikel Williams
Farm Bill Program Specialist
Phone: 443.482.2923