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Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

The purpose of the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program is to leverage the Federal investment in environmental enhancement while stimulating the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies, in conjunction with agricultural production.  The CIG program uses Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or non-governmental organizations, Federally-recognized Tribes, or individuals. 

CIG Benefits

CIG enables NRCS to work with other public and private entities and individuals 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

How CIG Works

National CIG
Funding for CIG is announced each year through a funding notice, 2014 National CIG News Release.  Funds for single- or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, will be awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process.  CIG competitions will emphasize projects that have a goal of providing benefits over a large geographic area.  These projects may be watershed based, regional, multi-State, or nationwide in scope.

Statewide CIG
In addition to the nationwide grants competition, the State component of CIG is available in select States each year. The State component emphasizes projects that have a goal of providing benefits within a limited geographic area. Projects may be farm-based, multi-county, small watershed, or Statewide in scope.  Public notices in each participating State will announce the availability of funds for the State CIG competitions.

2012 Conservation Innovation Grant Awardees

National CIG - Water Quality Credit Trading - National

  • American Farmland Trust (IL, IN, KY, OH, PA, WV) in the amount of $221,364 for coupling precision agriculture with water quality credit trading.  This project proposes to develop, test, and refine the first-ever quantification protocol for crediting precision agriculture variable rate technology practices in water quality credit trading programs.

  • Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (OH, KY, IN) in the amount of $1,000,000 for a Credit Trading Registry for the Ohio River Basin Water Quality Trading Project. The project’s objectives are to provide proven, innovative, financial grade market infrastructure and services configured for the Ohio River Basin and its stakeholders.

  • North Carolina State University (MN, IA, IL, IN, OH, NC) in the amount of $169,792 for development, evaluation, and demonstration of simple tools for a nitrogen Credit Trading System involving drainage water managementThe overall goal of this project is to develop, evaluate, and demonstrate the use of simple tools to quantify the impacts of drainage water management on the reduction of nitrogen losses from subsurface drained cropland.

National CIG

  • The Ohio State University (OH) in the amount of $999,987.  This project proposes to evaluate and as necessary revise and update the current Ohio Phosphorous Risk Index through use of field-scale, edge-of-field monitoring data.

  • Morgan Soil and Water Conservation District (OH) in the amount of $78,000.  This project proposes to demonstrate the successful and economical use of windmill-powered water pumping plants to supply and distribute water to higher elevation pasture fields to enable livestock producers to increase the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of their overall grazing system and livestock operation.

  • The University of Vermont and State Agricultural College (WV, PA, NY, NH, NJ, VT, ME, CT, RI, MA, OH, MD, DE, VA) in the amount of $66,365. This project involves energy savings through holistic planned grazing and management.

Statewide CIG

  • Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation District in the amount of $75,000 to demonstrate the effectiveness and feasibility of managing crops and improving the environment through phosphorus management.

  • <Brandt Farm in the amount of $74,414.  This project’s objectives are to address soil health priority needs in an effort to demonstrate and quantify the impact of cover crops, crop rotations, and tillage.

  • >Ohio Environmental Council in the amount of $75,000 to conduct a comprehensive analysis of completed Ohio CIG projects.

  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources in the amount of $67,187.  The purpose of this pilot project is to increase Ohio’s capacity to implement alternative drainage technologies.

    Multi-state and Single-state Awardees
    Water Quality Credit Trading Awardees
    Full List of FY 2012 CIG Results

Who is Eligible?

Projects must involve landowners who meet the EQIP eligibility criteria.

  • Universities
  • Federally recognized Indian Tribes
  • State or Local Units of Government
  • Non-governmental Organizations
  • Private Businesses
  • Individuals

What is the CIG Process?


  1. CIG funding availability is announced through an announcement for program funding.
  2. Applications are submitted to the State NRCS Office.
  3. tate Office forwards to Washington D.C. with review letter from State Conservationist.
  4. Review panels are convened to score and rank proposals against evaluation criteria in the announcement.
  5. A grant review board certifies the rankings and ensures consistency with program objectives.
  6. NRCS Chief makes final award decisions.

Program Contact:

John Armentano, CIG Program Manager
Phone: (614) 255-2469