LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Oct. 30, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding more than $14.6 million in grants in states across the country to support the development of innovative systems, tools, and technologies for production and conservation on agricultural lands. Funds are provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which awards grants to organizations, universities, and others that are developing innovations to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners
In Arkansas, two water quality projects and one water resuse project received funding. They are:
Mississippi State University NRCS Award: $1,480,526 -- States: AR; LA; MS; MO Combining cover crops with irrigation water management technologies to economically reduce pollutant loss from farm fields, transport of agrochemicals in streams, and aquifer decline
Mississippi State University will improve water quality and quantity by increasing the adoption of a novel production system based on scheduling and delivering water to cover crop production systems using state-of-the-art technologies.
Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation
NRCS Award: $176,912 -- State: AR Innovative conservation approaches and technologies for alternative crops
Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation will introduce historically underserved vegetable growers in East Central Arkansas to using drones for pest control management. Training producers in using high resolution camera drones that can help with early stage detection of pest infestations will allow for targeted pesticide application leading to less chemical use.
White River Regional Irrigation Water Distribution District NRCS
Award: $700,000 -- States: AR Using a regional ag data network to accelerate water reuse and water quality considerations in irrigation systems
Use of advanced technology for irrigation scheduling has demonstrated reduced water use with proper scheduling. However, data that tracks the volume of runoff that can be captured and reused is limited. Whiteriver Regional Irrigation proposes to determine the volume of runoff that is captured in tail-water systems and irrigation storage reservoirs and the volume and quality of water reused for incorporation into Irrigation Water Management plans.
This USDA investment has generated more than $15.3 million in partner matching funds, resulting in almost $30 million for conservation innovation. Authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, the CIG program has awarded nearly $300 million to-date.
“The world’s population is increasing, but available agricultural land is decreasing,” said Mike Sullivan, NRCS state conservationist for Arkansas. “Through science and innovation, we can help farmers improve the health of their operations and productivity on their lands while protecting the natural resources we all depend on. The new systems, tools, and technologies being developed through CIG are helping us ensure the longevity of American agriculture.”
The 2020 funding pool focused on five priority areas: air quality, water quality, water reuse, energy conservation, and wildlife habitat. This is the first year that water reuse is a priority area, pursuant to USDA’s commitment under the National Water Reuse Action Plan, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency on February 27, 2020.
NRCS selected 24 projects for the 2020 CIG awards. For a full list of projects and descriptions, visit the CIG website.
More About CIG
CIG is a competitive grants program that supports development, testing, and research of conservation technologies, practices, systems, and approaches on private lands. Grantees must match the CIG investment at least one to one.
All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Funding announcement information can be accessed through the CIG website or on Grants.gov. State NRCS offices are also able to fund and hold their own CIG competitions, in addition to the National CIG signup. Visit NRCS state office websites for information about state CIG competitions.
CIG also contributes to the Agriculture Innovation Agenda, a USDA initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, USDA is working to stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050.
For more information about the CIG program, visit the CIG website.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.