Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) are competitive grants that drive public and private sector innovation in resource conservation. CIG projects inspire creative problem-solving that boosts production on farms, ranches, and private forests – ultimately, they improve water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat.
Program At A Glance
National and State CIG – Public and private grantees develop the tools, technologies, and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. Grantees must match the CIG investment at least one to one.
On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials – Newly authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill, On-Farm Trials supports more widespread adoption of innovative approaches, practices and systems on working lands. On-Farm Trials projects feature collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. Incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches. The Soil Health Demo Trial (SHD) component of On-Farm Trials focuses exclusively on implementation of conservation practices and systems that improve soil health. Eligible entities receiving SHD awards agree to follow consistent soil health assessment protocols to evaluate the impacts of practice and system implementation. Learn more about On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.
Who Is Eligible
National and State CIG – all non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. All CIG projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers.
How To Apply
National Competition – A CIG funding notice is announced each year. Funds for single- or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, are awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process. Projects may be watershed-based, regional, multi-state or nationwide in scope. The natural resource concerns eligible for funding through CIG are identified in the funding announcement and may change annually to focus on new and emerging, high priority natural resource concerns.
State Competition – The CIG state component emphasizes projects that benefit a limited geographical area. Participating states announce their funding availability for CIG competitions through their state NRCS offices. For additional information about State CIG competitions, please contact your State NRCS office or search for the latest postings here.
FY18 National CIG Projects Selected in Arkansas
Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation, Funds Requested: $154,602 — Demonstration Center Drones in Grazing Lands Management. The Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation proposes to establish a Technology Demonstration Center that focuses on the incorporation of drones into grazing/pasture management. The primary objective of the project is to equip historically underserved producers with a tool to help increase production through innovative pasture management.
FY17 State CIG Projects Selected in Arkansas
Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas, University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service ($74,984) — Demonstrating the Benefits of Conservation on Soil Health, Water Quality and Resilience to Climate Extremes. The overall goal of this project is to provide the farmer-led Arkansas Soil Health Alliance science-based support to establish soil health demonstration sites that would establish the foundation for an effective educational program among Arkansas farmers
Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas, acting for and on behalf of the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service ($74,831) — The primary goal of this project is to deliver a comprehensive and transformative approach to reduce non-point source water pollution (particularly phosphorus runoff) associated with land application of poultry litter. Specifically, we will identify BMPs (pasture renovation, litter incorporation, and gypsum applications) under replicated conditions at the field-scale using small paired watersheds, which will be scaled up to farm demonstrations on producer lands for the evaluation of the effectiveness of these technologies and at the farm-scale. Previous work has shown that renovation reduces N and P runoff by at least 40%; whereas incorporation reduces N and P runoff by at least 90%. We will also work directly with 4 Conservation Districts in Arkansas over the life of the project to bring the technology to growers through a series of tech transfer activities including presentations, field demonstrations, and technical workshops. We expect to have a minimum of 200 growers using non-point source pollution reducing practices by the end of the project. The number of land managers using litter incorporation will dependent on the speed of the development of an incorporator with multiple knives. Through technical bulletins, newsletters, educational programs, and reference materials, as well as farm-scale demonstrations, we will carry the impact of lessons learned well-beyond the duration of this project.
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service ($67,760) — In-Vessel Mortality Composter Management Guidelines Refinement and Educational Materials Development Project has a twofold underling objective. The data collection and analysis process of this project will provide an enhanced understanding of the interactions of management practices and composting process of in-vessel composters. This should lead to refined and documented management guidelines and recommendations. Dissemination of this information in various formats to different audiences should increase the likely hood of proper composter management and reduces the occurrences of failures in the composting process.
Water Monitoring Group, LLC ($74,964) — To install low cost hydrologic sensor networks in the field of collaborating farmers. Sensor data will be logged onsite, transmitted to online servers via wireless telemetry, and displayed on a graphic user interface where farmers can log in through a password protected webpage and monitor current field 79conditions and control irrigation equipment, during the project, we will interact with producers on multiple occasions to gather feedback on the systems performance and usability.
FY17 National CIG Projects Selected in Arkansas
White River Irrigation District (AR) ($600,000) — Internet of Agriculture (IoAg) Network and Services Platform. White River Irrigation District proposes to develop, test and validate an Internet of Agriculture (IoAg) Network and Service Platform that will provide precision agricultural data to enable farmers to increase crop yield, minimize cost, reduce water usage, and improve conservation of natural resources. The primary work will be carried out in the Grand Prairie Region of Arkansas to leverage a large US Army Corps of Engineers water distribution and water management project that has resulted in extensive investment in automated on-farm data acquisition, data transfer, and control systems. Similar technologies have been tested and implemented in home automation and monitoring, health care, commercial building and energy conservation. This project adopts the methodology and applies it to the agricultural and environment sector.
FY16 National CIG Projects Selected in Arkansas
University of Arkansas ($79,529) — proposes to coordinate and synthesize P (phosphorus) management nationally, harmonizing site assessment and nutrient management recommendations compliant with the 2010 NRCS 590 Standard, and promoting consistency among state recommendations. This project will work with regional efforts to calibrate and harmonize P Indices across the U. S. and demonstrate their accuracy in identifying the magnitude and extent of P loss risk and their utility to improving water quality. These regional efforts are Coastal Plain, Northeast, Heartland, and Southeast States. The overarching goal of this project is to improve the effectiveness of site risk assessment using P Indices compliant with the NRCS 590 Nutrient Management Standard across the nation.
Arkansas Land and Community Development Corporation ($350,000) — will assign a trained staff member to serve as a field agent to NRCS district conservationists throughout a 42 county service area while at the same time serving as a mentor to historically underserved producers. This project proposes to increase the number of new EQIP applications for historically underserved producers in each of the four service area regions, increase awareness of new technology applicable to the operation, work one-on-one with producers to create farm management plans, increase the long-term profitability for participants through farm/ranch improvements, and increase collective knowledge of sustainable agriculture throughout the service area by conducting quarterly workshops and training seminars in each region.
National Audubon Society, Inc. ($291,445) — The purpose of Audubon Arkansas’s Native Agriculture to Invigorate Ecosystems (NATIVE) Project is to help farmers innovatively adapt to climate change by assisting them with production of a climate change-resistant specialty crop that promotes on-farm biodiversity. Native warm season grasses and pollinator-friendly forbs are economical, environmentally sustainable, alternative cash-crops able to withstand drought and other severe weather events made worse by climate change. Audubon will build upon its expertise in conservation practices and experience with historically underserved producers in the Delta to enroll 100 acres in native grass and forb seed production using seed harvested from remnant prairies. With this technology transfer and acreage in full production, Audubon predicts that producers can harvest 10,000 pounds of seed annually for sale in commercial and consumer markets, while reaping soil, water, and wildlife benefits.