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Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

NEW CIG  Header

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) are competitive grants that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands. CIG uses Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, American Indian Tribes, or individuals. Producers involved in CIG funded projects must be EQIP eligible.

Through CIG, NRCS partners with public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and adopt promising technologies. These new technologies and approaches address some of the Nation's most pressing natural resources concerns. CIG benefits agricultural producers by providing more options for environmental enhancement and compliance with Federal, State, and local regulations.

** The State CIG Application Period is Open Until February 17, 2017 **

National Competition

NRCS will invest $25 million for new national CIG projects in fiscal year 2017. The national focus areas this year are conservation finance; data analytics for natural resources; pay-for-success models to stimulate conservation adoption; precision conservation; water management technologies and approaches; and benefiting historically underserved farmers, ranchers and private forest landowners.

The National application period is now closed. 

Statewide CIG

In addition to the nationwide grants competition, the State component of CIG is available in select States each year. The State component emphasizes projects that have a goal of providing benefits within a limited geographic area. Projects may be farm-based, multi-county, small watershed, or Statewide in scope.  For additional information about State CIG competitions, please contact John Armentano or search for the latest postings at

** The state application period is open until February 17, 2017.  The 2017 focus areas for Ohio project proposals include:

  1. Innovative approaches that benefit historically underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers, beginning farmers and ranchers and those with limited resources;
  2. Precision conservation tools that uncover opportunities for better input management (for example, nutrient management addressing source, timing, rate and placement) or address in-field vulnerabilities; and
  3. Water management technologies and approaches to maximize agricultural production, efficiency and minimize off-site impacts.  

Potential applicants should review opportunity number USDA-NRCS-OH-CIG-17-01 for program funding that is available on  During open application periods, applications for CIG projects must be submitted through and with a PDF file emailed to John Armentano.

Active Ohio Conservation Innovation Grants

National CIG - Water Quality Credit Trading - National

Conservation Marketplace Midwest ($243,933)—proposes to develop and pilot a Field Stewards program, an innovative conservation credit system designed to allow companies in the food industry to buy “offsets” for water quality and agricultural conservation. Through the purchase of certification credits, food companies can demonstrate sustainability to their customers without having to create a new chain-of-custody supply chain for agricultural commodities, keeping costs low for retailers and the consumer.

Electric Power Research Institute ($300,000)—proposes to develop and execute, for the first time, trades of “stacked” ecosystem services for water quality and greenhouse gas emissions reduction credits. EPRI administers the Ohio River Basin nutrient trading program – the only multi-state trading program in the country.

Great Lakes Commission ($400,000)— substantial water quality issues plague the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB), leading to harmful algal blooms each summer in Lake Erie. The Great Lakes Commission proposes to develop a framework for water quality trading in the WLEB.

Heidelberg University ($591,655) - proposes to improve soil health and reduce nutrient and sediment exports from agricultural farms by using edge-of-field studies of best management practices to calibrate and verify existing tools that estimate farm yield and nutrient loss.

Corn Growers ($2,000,000) - This project will integrate recent advancements in precision agriculture data platforms, designed to help growers optimize farm enterprise profitability, reduce greenhouse gases and improve water quality into an advanced decision system support tool and framework that enables carbon “insetting.”

State CIG

Abundant Life Farm ($75,000) - This project creates an educational learning opportunity utilizing soil, water, and energy conservation methodologies.  Historically under-served farmers, ranchers, and veterans will be invited to see firsthand the innovative uses of high tunnels and urban farming.  The project is located in the highly urbanized Akron/Cleveland area.

Program Contact:

John Armentano, CIG Program Manager
Phone: (614) 255-2469