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News Release

USDA Accepts Grant Applications for Conservation Innovation Efforts

Indianapolis, IN, Feb. 7, 2014 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for competitive grants to develop and accelerate conservation approaches and technologies on private agricultural and forest lands.

"Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) have contributed to some of the most exciting conservation work on America's agricultural and forest lands," said Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty. "It's an excellent investment in new conservation technologies and approaches to achieve production and conservation goals."

About $15 million will be made available nationwide by NRCS.  State and local governments, federally recognized Indian tribes, non-governmental and educational organizations, private businesses and individuals are eligible to apply.

Hardisty said priority will be given to applications that relate to nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, air quality, climate change, wildlife, economics, sociology, environmental markets, food safety, historically underserved groups, or assessments of past CIG projects.

In the 10 years that NRCS has administered the program, grants have helped demonstrate the effectiveness of new field management systems, implement guidance for established pollinator habitats, as well as address other resource concerns.

For example, a CIG grant awarded to the Conservation Technology Information Center examines and expands on the benefits cover crops can provide farmers.  As part of the project, 1,000 additional acres of cover crops will be planted. 

“Cover crops are an important tool to help us improve soil health, scavenge nitrogen to improve water quality, and prevent flooding and runoff during spring and summer rains but some farmers are hesitant to plant cover crops because of the cost and management,” Hardisty said. “Projects like this one provide important information to help farmers try new approaches.”

Funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the grants are awarded through a national competitive process. At least 50 percent of the total cost of grant projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.

For more on this grant opportunity, visit To apply electronically, visit www.grants.govor visit your local USDA service center



Jane Hardisty, State Conservationist, 317.295.5801 (
Jill Reinhart, Assistant State Conservationist – Special Projects, 317.295.5883 (
Rebecca Fletcher, State Public Affairs Specialist, 317.295.5825 (