Virginia grazing operations, like this one in Clarke County, will benefit from two of the three national NRCS grants awarded to state applicants last week (Photo: John Markon, Virginia NRCS).
By John Markon, Virginia NRCS Public Affairs
Richmond, Va. – Three projects proposed by Virginia applicants have been approved for partial funding by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which announced its latest round of national Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) last week in Washington, D.C.
Approvals were extended to two programs to be conducted by Virginia Tech and an education initiative for both new and experienced graziers to be directed by the Virginia Forest and Grassland Council (VFGC). The VFGC grant was made from a special pool of $12 million dedicated to assisting grazing operations.
- Virginia Tech's application for a $1.99 million grant to assist the college in training both producers and technical advisors in the advantages of converting to silvopasture, which is the practice of integrating trees, grasslands and grazing animals in the most productive way. Silvopasturing utilizes managed grazing practices and enables landowners to grow trees and forage along with livestock on the same acreage
- Virginia Tech was also approved for a $999,277 grant to promote "Climate-Smart Technology for Sustainable Crops." This educational program will focus on promoting use of cover crops and precision tillage.
- The VFGC application was funded with $299,993 and is described as "a comprehensive effort to reach both established and underserved audiences." It will include a winter forage conference series, a grazing school for inexperienced producers, an advanced grazing school for agricultural professionals, a Virginia Grasslands bus tour, establishment of a statewide mentor network and several other services to state graziers. The grant will also enable the VFGC to hire both a state grassland specialist and a summer intern who will specialize in issues related to forage and grazing.
CIG projects are designed to be two years in length. All three approved projects are scheduled to begin in 2023 and conclude in 2025. Nationwide, this year's CIG fund pool was $40 million apportioned among 31 successful applicants.
For more information on NRCS projects in Virginia, visit Virginia NRCS.
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