Caribbean Area NRCS Director, Edwin Almodóvar, is pleased to announce the availability of approximately $190,000 in FY 2014 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies (en Español). Applications will be accepted from the Caribbean Area, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands only. Applications are requested from eligible governmental, non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between one and three years in duration. The application submission deadline has been extended to June 27, 2014. Electronic applications must be sent through www.grants.gov.
CIG is a voluntary program 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 funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals.
CIG allows 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.
Caribbean Area Resource Concerns
For Fiscal Year 2014, CIG is focusing on the following topics – one or more may be selected for proposals (proposals for hydroponics will not be accepted):
Validate the life span for existing hillside ditches (NRCS Conservation Practice code 423) on twenty farms in the humid mountains and valleys of the Caribbean MRLA used in various crops and soil types;
Demonstrate, validate and quantify the impacts of cover crops (NRCS Conservation Practice code 340), other than known local cover crops (Canavalia, Mucuna, Crotalaria and Cowpea), in steep and mountainous farming areas on slopes 15º (25% slope) or higher in the Caribbean Area;
Develop optimual species mixes, seeding rates and seeding methods for at least 5 new plant family species with different dcomposition rates, including grasses, legumes (other than Canavalia, Mucuna, Crotalaria and Cowpea) and forbs to enhance cover crop establishment/ survival and increase soil organic matter.
Water Quality & Quantity:
Validate the efficiency and effective performance of infiltration ditches (NRCS Conservation Practice code 753) as waste disposal methods and observe and record the differences in operation and maintenance processes on different soils types in the Caribbean Area;
Assess, evaluate and validate the life span for existing different fence types (NRCS Conservation Practice code 382) and their components among humid and dry areas in the Caribbean Area;
Evaluate and recommend alternative native tree species other than the existing shade coffee multi-story model (NRCS Conservation Practice code 379) developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
Evaluate, demonstrate and recommend different systems, species and management practices to establish, improve and implement successful intercropping systems;
Obtain data comparing conventional coffee processing systems versus the established coffee processing ecological devices to obtain energy reduction data and validate the reduction in water consumption (NRCS Conservation Practice code 374).
Evaluate and demonstrate renewable energy systems increasing energy efficiency and/or environmental contaminants in coffee processing plants.
Conservation Outreach to Under-served Farmers/Clients:
This project will be used to translate into Spanish critical information on routine maintenance procedures of installed conservation practices and other information as indicated by NRCS. The selected organization will meet with NRCS to select the publications, fact sheets and other appropriate material to be translated to be distributed and to train underserved farmers/clients as to the proper use of information.
Create video clips or other appropriate video material related to routine maintenance procedures of installed conservation practices to provide knowledge and train underserved farmers/clients as to the proper use of information.
Demonstrate and quantify the optimal combinations of right nutrient source, right application rate, right placement, and right application timing (4 Rs ), as measured by impact on nutrient use efficiency and yield for one or more of the following: root crop, vegetables, hay/pasture, plantains, banana, coffee, orchard and any other tropical crop. Demonstrations are encouraged to 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.
Validate and quantify parameters and procedure to compost different livestock manure and agricultural by products; to supplement local Conservation Practice Standard.
Develop regional, crop-specific guidance providing the vegetative species, landforms, and necessary acreage to support appropriate populations of managed and wild pollinators per unit area of pollinated crops (e.g., describe the components of the landscape).