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Conservation Innovation Grants On-Farm Trials Awards - 2020

Priority Area: Soil Health Demonstration Trials

Awardee : University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

Award: $1,899,545

State: TX

Project Description: A collaborative effort between the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Texas State University, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Texas producers, this project focuses on the long-term regional implementation and evaluation of cover crops and improved/reduced tillage practices in degraded, subtropical soils on arid, water-limited farms. Researchers will recruit historically underserved farmers across the region to receive technical and financial assistance to improve soil health.

Awardee: Vermont Land Trust, Inc.

Award : $2,015,167

State: VT

Project Description: Vermont Land Trust will work together with test farms to plan and implement a four-part Soil Health Management System for each site including: no-till seeding of forage and cover crops; nutrient management via application of compost and bioavailable soil amendments; non-invasive mechanical pasture improvement; management-intensive rotational grazing of livestock. Outcomes will be evaluated against five control sites and used to produce a predictive pasture health model.

Awardee: North Carolina State University

Award : $2,003,778

States: VT, PA, MD, NH, OH, VA, TN, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, AR, WI, IN, SD, KS, NE, OK, TX, IA, MO

Project Description: This project adds new row crop farms to an existing network of producers in an online co-learning environment integrating technology, real-time data flow (aggregation, analytics, and visualization), and decision support tools to promote the use of soil health management principles including carbon storage, nitrogen cycling, and water infiltration and storage.

Awardee: American Farmland Trust, Inc.

Award: $2,627,531

States : CT, CA, NY, MA, KY, WA

Project Description: American Farmland Trust will stimulate the adoption of various soil health practices by involving farms in a coast-to-coast Soil Health Demonstration project demonstrating regionally appropriate soil health strategies across three regions covering seven states and six cropping systems. Through soil sampling, in-field assessment, and crop management protocols AFT will track the short-term soil, economic, and social changes occurring as farms transition to full soil health management systems.

Awardee: Clemson University

Award: $499,959

States: SC, NC

Project Description: Clemson University will engage North and South Carolina cotton farmers, including Historically Underserved producers, to implement cover crops and conservation tillage. Participating producers will grow winter cover crops and use conservation tillage in cotton-based cropping systems to evaluate the impact on soil health in order to increase the adoption of these practices among cotton growers region-wide.

Awardee: University of Hawaii

Award: $1,983,479

State/Territories : Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa

Project Description : The University of Hawaii will establish a network of on-farm Soil Health Management Systems demonstrations that are individually tailored, regionally adapted, and managed by farmers, in collaboration with participating farms in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and three Hawaiian islands. The project emphasizes engagement with historically underserved Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, Hispanic farmers and restorative efforts on degraded or abandoned agricultural lands in rural communities.

Priority Area: Irrigation Management

Awardee: University of Florida

Award: $1,615,906

States: FL, GA

Project Description : The University of Florida will work with producers to institute a rapid, efficient, and near real-time method of estimating root zone soil moisture in vegetable farms, with a long-term goal of helping agricultural producers and stakeholders achieve balance between water resource conservation and farming profitability through improved irrigation accuracy and planning.

Award: Michigan State University

Award : $426,209

States: MI, IN

Project Description: Michigan State University will work with producers to field-test a low-cost remote sensor monitoring system in corn, soybean, and small vegetable production plots. MSU will assess adoption through surveys conducted in collaboration with partners Michigan Farm Bureau and Michiana Irrigation Association.

Priority Area: Precision Agriculture

Awardee: University of Illinois

Award: $4,000,000

States: ID, IL, LA, MN, MT, NE, ND, SD, TX, WA

Project Description: University of Illinois, in collaboration with Washington State University's Extension Program and cotton, corn, soy, and wheat producers, plans to deploy a data-intensive crop management system based on on-farm precision experiments. Farmers will use these tools to conduct site-specific, data-based evaluation of the yield costs of reducing nitrogen losses, enabling data-informed input management decisions.

Awardee : Regents of the University of Minnesota

Award : $786,965

States : MN, IN

Project Description : Researchers will implement on-farm corn PNM (precision nitrogen management) and monitoring trials on farms in Minnesota and Indiana in order to assess the agronomic, economic, and environmental benefits of PNM technology in comparison with farmers' current N management practices under diverse on-farm conditions.

Priority Area: Management Technologies and Strategies

Awardee: Ridge to Reefs, Inc.

Award : $995,991

Territory : Puerto Rico

Project Description: This project brings together a coalition of organizations representing academia, public, private, and non-governmental sectors in Puerto Rico to help farmers implement improved Regenerative Production Systems consisting of a suite of Enhanced Management Practices. Both small- to medium- scale farms will implement practices focused on their specific resource concerns and production goals.

Awardee: Texas A&M Agrilife Research

Award: $ 2,231,261

States : IL, IA, DE, MD, VA, NC, LA, TX

Project Description: Texas A&M, in collaboration with commodity boards and grower networks, will work with soybean, corn, and cotton producers across 8 states to enhance on-farm adoption of integrated herbicide-resistant weed management practices through a focus on cover crops and harvest weed seed control.

Awardee : Michigan State University

Award: $2,571,064

States: MI, IA, IN, IL, NE, SD, KS, MS, TX, VA, MO

Project Description: In collaboration with corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton producers, MSU aims to reduce N fertilizer losses from agricultural fields by implementing two interconnected strategies: site-specific, data-driven, variable-rate N fertilizer application rates, and replacement of unprofitable and/or unresponsive areas with restored native vegetation.

Awardee: Candidus, Inc.

Award: $683,562

States: CA, MI, VA

Project Description : Candidus will implement and demonstrate an advanced greenhouse lighting control system coupled with site-specific lighting strategies, in cooperation with greenhouses in three states, with the goal of improving greenhouse energy efficiency and increasing profitability for growers.