Caribbean Area NRCS Director, Edwin Almodóvar, is pleased to announce the availability of approximately $150,000 in FY 2015 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 is June 19, 2015. 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 2015, CIG is focusing on the following topics – one or more may be selected for proposals (proposals for hydroponics will not be accepted):
Greenhouse Gas Markets:
Climate Change. (Resource Concern addressed: soil, water, plants, air, energy, animals, humans) – Integration of new conservation partners. Establish collaborative relationships with corporate supply chain initiatives that recognize the instrumental role of NRCS voluntary conservation practices in meeting and exceeding corporate (Green House Gas) GHG reduction, water availability and carbon sequestration targets such as: Establish and demonstrate innovative technologies in wildfire prevention and control; agroforestry practices to encourage renovation of existing farmstead and field windbreaks; new efforts in Silvopasture, alley cropping, riparian buffers, or other agroforestry practices with emphasis in native vegetation; demonstration of water management practices efficiencies to include systems with alternative agriculture, positive impacts to aquifer health and pasture/cropland protection on wildfires. Proposals must demonstrate and quantify the GHG, carbon sequestration and water availability and health benefits of the approaches.
Demonstrate the efficiency and adaptation to climate change of Water Management practices currently installed on NRCS projects to measure impacts on Aquifers, Coral and Ocean Health.
Establish and demonstrate how implementation of soil health management systems can be integrated into carbon markets: 1) Cropland Soil Health, including tillage, cover crops, nitrogen management, etc., and/or 2) Grazing Land Soil Health, including animal management, prescribed grazing, soil amendments such as manure or compost, and interseeding legumes. Proposals must demonstrate and quantify the GHG benefits of the approaches;
Demonstrate and quantify the impacts of Soil Health Management Systems (e.g., cover crops, reduced tillage) on key soil health attributes (e.g., available water holding capacity, disease suppression, nutrient cycling) and determine the extent to which the rates of change are influenced by climate, organic input, chemical composition/ placement, and soil properties (e.g., particle size, mineralogy). This should be conducted across a range of inherent soil properties, cropping systems, and climates to develop a Decision Support Tool that promotes selection and design of the components of a Soil Health Management System.
Establish and demonstrate innovative ways to expand the capture and use of methane from livestock systems. Examples include anaerobic digestion associated efforts to create markets for value-added byproducts, and covering/flaring or other means of capturing and utilizing methane. The project should emphasize efficient and cost effective means of adopting technologies that are especially relevant to small- to medium-sized livestock operations. Proposals must demonstrate and quantify the GHG benefits of the approaches.
Environmental Markets for Water:
To be given consideration, the project or activity should demonstrate each of the following:
Demonstrated effort to build on the existing knowledge and successes of water quality or water quantity markets.
Expansion of the scope and scale of existing markets or development of new markets.
Commitment to increasing agricultural producer participation in environmental markets.
Understanding of supply and demand challenges and commitment to solving them.
Evaluate and demonstrate new renewable energy systems that offset fossil fuel energy use and meet on-farm energy needs, while increasing energy efficiency and/or reducing environmental contaminants (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, particulate matter).
Develop and demonstrate ambient air quality assessment methodologies and procedures for identifying air quality issues and solutions related to animal and/or crop production systems. The methodologies and procedures should focus on one or more agriculturally related air contaminants and identify opportunities for mitigating emissions at multiple steps in the animal and/or crop production process.
Economics and Sociology:
Demonstrate the impacts of conservation practices and suites of conservation practices on net revenue, net cost, and yield variability (or other measures of economic risk). Methods to demonstrate these impacts may include both case studies and enterprise budgets.
Develop and demonstrate individual enterprise budgets/case studies for a range of major agricultural systems, production zones, and management practices (e.g. comparing no-tillage vs. tillage, cover crops vs. no cover crops; rotations vs. Continuous cropping).
Develop a tool for measuring economic returns of conservation for landowners. Tools should be useful for analyzing and demonstrating the financial costs and potential returns of alternative conservation practices, taking into account such factors as land characteristics and production potential. Tools should adhere to the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association standards for estimating farm costs and returns, including estimating opportunity costs for operator labor and management, be easy to use and understand, and provide transparent calculations.
Develop a tool for assessing the economics of conservation that includes a defensible and acceptable valuation of environmental benefits and identification of knowledge gaps.
Demonstrate, through coordinated case studies, how conservation efforts have benefited landowners and rural communities in different regions.
Evaluation of the sociological/economic/farm management barriers to adoption and demonstration of ways to overcome those barriers for several conservation practices including: implementation of nutrient management plans, adoption of manure injection technologies, installation of stream bank fencing or riparian buffers, adoption of precision livestock feeding or precision grazing practices, manure redistribution, and/or other practices that landowners appear reluctant to adopt.
Projects Benefiting Historically Underserved Producers, Veteran Farmers or Ranchers, or Organizations Comprised of or Representing these Individuals or Entities (i.e. Outreach):
Develop and transfer Spanish/English 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.
Develop and transfer Spanish/English outreach material or technology on integrated pest management.
Develop and transfer Spanish/English material on issues, concerns and measures to overcome forest wildfires and its effects on the natural resources.
Develop and transfer conservation technology to underserved groups (i.e. workshops, short courses).
Projects that develop technical training in any topic listed in this announcement.