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CIG Classic 2021 Award Summaries

Ugly to Beautiful: Changing the Visual Acceptability of Cover Crops
National Wildlife Federation
Lead State: MN
States Involved: MN
Changing normative visual conceptions of what a healthy field looks like may help propel conservation adoption. This project will develop and test a multi-faceted media campaign to build supportive social and visual norms around soil health practices to see if farmer attitudes about conservation shift. The project will inform on farmer perspectives and improve farmer outreach/education efforts.

Stewardship Ambassadors - Women Landowners Educating Farmers and other Landowners to Motivate Conservation Change
Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN)
Lead State: IA
States Involved: IA, IL, KS, MN, ND, NE, SD, WI
In order to expand the implementation of regenerative conservation practices, this project will establish a stewardship ambassador program for women beginning farm owners. The program will further use learning circles to enhance communication, address barriers, and find community building opportunities with local conservation leadership.

Social Science to Drive Brush Management in the High Plains
Playa Lakes Joint Venture
Lead State: CO
States Involved: CO, KS, OK
By identifying adoption barriers and addressing current perceptions on brush management this project will improve management efforts of shrub encroachment on grasslands. The project will apply a user-centered design approach and conduct focused outreach to increase proactive management behaviors of grassland ecosystems and address grassland threats.

Conservation in Action - Diffusion of Education to Foster Adoption of Enhanced Nitrogen and Irrigation Management Practices
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Lead State: CA
States Involved: CA
Informed by recent studies outlining barriers to specific nutrient and irrigation practice adoption in the California Central Valley, the grant seeks to increase producer adoption of conservation practices addressing irrigation and nitrogen by focusing on late adopters.

Incentivizing Conservation Adoption through New Digital Marketplace Tools and Price Discovery
Croatan Institute
Lead State: WI
States Involved: CO, MA, ME, MO, WI
Integrating the cost of conservation into the market could help incentivize conservation adoption. Using high tech market tools for food transactions, this project brings together farmers and food buyers to help establish market values, allowing producers compensation for the risks and inputs of pre-defined attributes.

Exemplary Forestry Investment Fund
Maine Mountain Collaborative
Lead State: ME
States Involved: ME
The launch of the Exemplary Forest Investment Fund (EFIF) will blend dollars from philanthropy and investment sources to secure large forest parcels and manage them according to Exemplary ForestryTM standards. The project shifts the timeline for industrial timber parcels and improves forest stocking to help forest management lead to higher ecological returns.

Increasing the Pace and Scale of Adoption of Prescribed Grazing through Virtual Fence Technology
Oklahoma State University
Lead State: OK
States Involved: CO, OK
Achieving successful producer adoption of virtual fencing (VF) requires the evaluation of the technology for achieving water quality, wildlife and other conservation objectives and the development of needed standards and specifications. This project will accomplish this in addition to identifying improvements and features that are needed in VF technology to make it a more effective conservation tool.

Managing Rangelands with Virtual Fencing
Eagle County Conservation District
Lead State: CO
States Involved: CO
The augmentation or replacing of traditional fencing with virtual fencing (VF) is challenging on western rangelands where there is a high cost to install fence on rough and rocky terrain. This project will look at the use of VF on topographically challenging western rangeland areas to help acceptance and credibility.

Enhanced Satellite Imagery Analysis Providing for Invasive Species Control in the Chickasaw Nation
The Chickasaw Nation
Lead State: OK
States Involved: OK
By using satellite imagery, this project will address invasive red cedar populations and improve the accuracy of applying prescribed burning as a solution. Through developing and applying algorithms and validating the spatial distribution of red cedar trees, viable tree stands will be more accurately targeted for prescribed burning.

Promoting Innovations in Animal Waste Management Phase II
NC Foundation for Soil and Water Conservation, Inc.
Lead State: NC
States Involved: NC
A low-cost passive solar waste drying system will be developed to help farmers handle bulky wet manures and to facilitate manure transfers from areas with heavy nutrient buildup. System finances will also be evaluated to make a business case for the product.

High Clearance Robotic Irrigator for In-Season Nutrient Management
The Ohio State University
Lead State: OH
States Involved: IA, OH
The 360 High Clearance Robotic Irrigation System for in-season nutrient applications will be demonstrated. This system aligns nutrient application timing to a crop’s nutrient needs and improves irrigation efficiency, having high probability of impacting water quality and reducing evaporation.

Nutrient Loading Reduction through Phosphorus Recovery Demonstration Program
Maumee Watershed Alliance, Inc.
Lead State: IN
States Involved: IN, MI, OH
The Maumee Watershed Alliance (MWA) will demonstrate phosphorus recovery technologies (USDA QuickWash®, Kendensha Multi-disc Roller Separator) at three different sites with the aim of illustrating 80% total phosphorus removal over extended demonstration periods. The MWA will also explore the market value of two resultant co-products - dewatered manure solids and Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP) - to serve as a cost recovery mechanism and facilitate large scale adoption.

Transforming the Community, Climate, and Soil Health of Urban Agriculture through Applying Food Waste Derived Fertilizers in Community Learning Gardens
Latino Equity, Advocacy, and Policy Institute (LEAP)
Lead State: CA
States Involved: CA
This project will test and demonstrate the use of food waste digestate as a liquid fertilizer and compost application in an urban agriculture system. The project will be conducted in four historically underserved communities to promote soil health practices that will help to mitigate the impact of heat and drought in urban settings.

Overcoming Cover Crop Adoption Barriers in Dryland Production Systems by Enhancing Water Use Efficiency and Soil Health
South Dakota State University
Lead State: SD
States Involved: SD
Four research sites will be examined to demonstrate potential benefits of organic amendments (biochar, manure, etc.) on improving soil function and cover crop performance in dryland, no-till production. The Field trials under drought conditions will evaluate water use efficiency, soil health and nutrient dynamics following different combinations of cover crops and organic amendments.

Hemp4Soil: Growing Hemp Improves Soil Health and Helps Stabilize the Climate
Heartland Corporate Holdings, LLC
Lead State: MI
States Involved: IL, IN, KS, MI, MT, NC, NE, SC, TN, VA
Incorporation of hemp into a soil health management system has the potential to positively impact soil biology and increase soil carbon. This project will introduce hemp as a cover crop in nine states and quantify its benefits.

No-Till, Organic Market Gardens: Restoring Soil Health and Rebuilding Local Food Systems
Campti Field of Dreams, Inc.
Lead State: LA
States Involved: LA
Urban gardens applying conservation practices have the potential to build soil health, increase climate resilience and improve the economic well-being of the producer. Applying lessons for No-Till Organic Market Gardens, this project will create a model that can be scaled to support a diversified urban food system.

On-Farm Water Capture and Reuse: Performance Demonstration, Economic Feasibility, and Design Tool Development
North Carolina State University
Lead State: NC
States Involved: NC
One way to manage farm vulnerability through increasing dry/wet cycles is to implement on-farm water capture. This demonstration project will evaluate the performance and economic feasibility of on-farm water capture and reuse of surface water and drainage for supplemental irrigation, assessing the ability of these on-farm ponds to increase crop drought resilience, protect water quality, and mitigate flooding.

Low-Tech Process Based In-Stream Structures to Increase Climate Resiliency in the Great Plains
Juniper Environmental, LLC
Lead State: KS
States Involved: KS, NE
Extreme weather in the Great Plains has led to increased stream erosion, aquifer depletion, decreased pasture quality and a reduction in quality wildlife habitat. By studying the effects of implementing low-tech process-based structures such as human-made beaver dams in the Midwest, this team will determine how best to implement these structures as a tool for producers in the Great Plains.

Mesoscale AI-Based Root-Zone Soil Moisture Monitoring for Efficient Farm Irrigation
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Lead State: MA
States Involved: MA, MI
Optimally allocating water resources through irrigation equipment to farmland remains a challenge. By using an artificial intelligence (AI) approach, this project will develop a low-cost, high-speed 3D soil moisture monitoring technology that is produced via the integration of drones and radars, facilitating more efficient farm irrigation.