NRCS Announces Recipients of Conservation Innovation Grants in 40 States Including Two RI Aquaculture Farms
Grants support pioneering efforts in conserving and protecting natural resources and enhancing agricultural productivity
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PROGRAM CONTACT: Mike Moorman
Asst. State Conservationist for Programs
MEDIA CONTACT: Walter Marshall
Public Affairs Specialist (401) 822-8816
WARWICK, RI (August 24, 2011) — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the winning proposals for the 2011 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Through CIG, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. Nationally, a total of 52 grants were awarded and includes two Rhode Island aquacultures farms which will address renewable energy and water quality issues.
"Conservation Innovation Grants allow our partners to demonstrate innovative approaches to address some of the Nation’s most compelling natural resource concerns such as soil erosion, water and air quality, and energy,” said Vilsack. “The grants will help to spur creativity and problem solving to benefit conservation-minded farmers and ranchers. Everyone who relies upon the sustainability of our Nation’s natural resources for clean water, food and fiber, or their way of life, will benefit from these grants.”
The two Rhode Island aquaculture farms selected for national CIG grants include Sun Farm Oysters, LLC and Walrus and Carpenter Oysters. Sun Farm Oysters, LLC will receive a grant of over $93,000 to develop paddle wheel upwellers operated solely on power from a hybrid solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind turbine system to channel water flow through artificial oyster beds which will attempt to enhance cultivation and oyster growth rates. The project’s goal is also to reduce the demand for non-renewable energy sources and to reduce local ozone pollution and CO2 emissions from reduced use of conventional power. Walrus and Carpenter Oysters will receive a grant of over $60,000 to create a method of harvesting and selling macroalgae on the oyster farm with the goal to improve water quality conditions and thus increase oyster production. The macroalgae will be dried and sold as an organic fertilizer to organic farmers which will help provide another income stream for shellfish producers and also reduce environmental consequences through improved water quality. Rhode Island State Conservationist R. Phou Vongkhamdy noted, “The NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant program will allow the aquaculture farmers to explore visionary, innovative approaches quickly to address energy issues and water quality issues.” Grant winners pay 50 percent of project costs where each project's results are documented for possible broader dissemination in other agricultural operations.
A summary of all proposals selected for a 2011 Conservation Innovation Grant is available at