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History of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) in New Jersey

The 2002 Farm Bill established the Conservation Innovation Grants as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The program was continued under the 2008 and 2014 Farm Bills. The grant program is offered to a diverse set of potential applicants, including individuals, non-profit organizations, for-profit companies, and state and local governments to help field test, research (on-farm), implement, and transfer innovative environmental solutions to natural resource problems.

Conservation Innovation Grants awarded to New Jersey applicants are listed below by the year of funding.

Year of Grant Funding 
  2019 2018 2017


New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grants Awarded in 2019

North Jersey RC&D - $74,995.00

         Use of Short Season Variety Corn and Soybeans to Facilitate Adoption of Multi-species Cover Crop

This project will assess the agronomic potential and associated economic implications of harvesting early season corn and soy varieties in time to establish a multi-species winter cover crop. On-farm assessments will be used to determine success of cover crop. Farmer interviews and on-farm records will be used to determine economic and social impacts. 

Groundwork Elizabeth, Inc. - $75,000.00

Developing an Urban Conservation Farm in Elizabeth, N.J.

Groundwork Elizabeth's project goal is to develop an urban farm conservation showcase to provide training to urban farmers on urban conservation practices and technologies. A secondary goal is to identify urban-specific conservation technologies to supplement existing NRCS conservation technologies.

New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grants Awarded in 2018

North Jersey RC&D - $52,000.00

Cover Crop Experimentation to Achieve Optimum Soil Health in New Jersey

Complete three years of cover crop establishment trials and assess biomass production, cost and other considerations associated with each establishment method.  Host field days for area wide producers on establishment techniques, species selection, pre and post herbicide planting and overall project results.   If needed, inform update to the NJ NRCS Cover Crop standard

Conserve Wildlife Foundation - $75,000.00

Quantifying impacts of innovative conservation systems to restore degraded habit and improve soil and water quality

"This project intends compare each management practice, 1) grazing with cattle, 2) grazing with water buffalo and 3) chemical/ mechanical control, in their ability to:  reduce invasive and undesirable plant species, improve vegetative diversity, composition and structure, restore hydrology and improve water quality

Additionally, the project seeks to determine if wetlands can serve as suitable pasture and determine which method provides the most cost effective treatment.

Red Coast USA LLC - $73,060.00

Evaluate an alternative oyster production system to minimize potential impacts to the endangered Red Knot.

Deploy floating oyster aquaculture systems at an offshore shellfish lease near Reeds Beach, NJ.
Evaluate survival, growth, and performance of oysters grown in floating subtidal cages.
Document costs of materials and labor associated with growing oysters in floating aquaculture systems.
Conduct education and outreach programs to demonstrate floating subtidal oyster culture methods to existing and prospective culturists, especially the traditional fishery communities.
Explore collective and cooperative strategies for other businesses in subtidal focused floating oyster culture operations.

New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grants Awarded in 2017

Montclair University - $75,000.00

Low-Cost Adsorbent Coated (Lac) Wood Mulches For Mitigation Of New Jersey (NJ) Agricultural Stormwater Pollution

This project intends to develop innovative and sustainable strategies for addressing agricultural stormwater-induced impacts on environmental systems. This project will also provide a scientific basis for the utilization of innovative low-cost adsorbent-coated wood mulches for retention of multiple contaminants from agricultural stormwater.

Rutgers University - $75,000.00

Recycling Irrigation Water At New Jersey Nurse/Es: Creation Of A Comprehensive Decision-Making System

This project intends to collect before-and-after data on the environmental and profitability impacts of water recycling technology at a single nursery, to develop a systematic, data-driven decision system for future producers who are considering implementing a water recycling and disinfection system, and to demonstrate the technology and then transfer findings and decision tools to others.

2016 New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grant Awards

Freehold Soil Conservation District (SCD) - $65,550

Open Spaces for Conservation Assistance Program (OSCAP)

This project will produce guidance for entities that wish to become non-profit organizations in order to assist in the managing of New Jersey Open Space parcels. This project provides funding for a natural resource professional to provide conservation plans for preserved open space acres in New Jersey. SCD staff will facilitate agreements between non-profit organizations and open space managers to implement these plans. This project will be focused on the counties of Monmouth, Middlesex and Mercer.

Rutgers University - $70,789

Bats as Tools for the Early Detection of Agricultural Pests

The goal of this project is to accelerate early detection of invasive insects in agricultural settings through analysis of insect DNA in bat guano in an effort to reduce the frequency and intensity of pesticide applications. This will provide economic benefits to growers while minimizing necessary chemical inputs to the environment.

Rutgers University - $75,000 

Improving Blueberry Soil Health for Sustainable Production

This project will provide blueberry growers with a method to measure soil health so that recommendations can be provided on pre-plant treatments. This project will result in more successful blueberry crop re-plants and also in more widespread use of the NRCS Soil Health Initiative among New Jersey blueberry growers.

2015 New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grant Awards

Rutgers University - $36,513

Determination of Energy Use Metrics for Commercial Greenhouses

This project will assess the range and variability of energy use in commercial greenhouses in New Jersey, and will include surveys of greenhouse growers to determine energy use based on construction type. Data generated will assist in developing energy management plans and energy saving opportunities.

2014 New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grant Awards

Duke Farms Foundation - $67,550

The Role of Cover Crops in a Comprehensive Duke Farm Soil Health Initiative

The project will develop a cover crop system using an appropriate mix of species both on Duke Farms as well as up to six farmers on their land. Data and information on soil health will be gathered from the CIG project. Demonstrations will take place on at least one farm where the EQIP-eligible farmer is using cover crops in a vegetable crop and at least another farm where the EQIP-eligible farmer is doing a traditional – corn/soybean and wheat rotation. The project will maximize the NRCS principles for improving soil health, which are (1) to disturb the soil as little as possible, thereby keeping the soil covered as much as possible; and (2) keep living roots in the soil and use plant diversity to increase soil organism diversity. Additionally, Duke Farms Foundation will work with Rutgers University and others of an expert working group to analyze how and when to use the roller crimper, interseeder, etc., species mix, time and rate of seeding, impact of cover crops in terms of soil water content and subsequent crop yield, and after each season, review the results of the previous year’s cover crop mix and make suggestions on how to adjust to maximize benefits.

Standard Bioenergy, L.L.C. - $75,000

Energy Conservation and Protection of Environmental Resources through Equine Farm Agricultural Waste to Energy System

The purpose of the Project is to remove “stall waste”, a combination of horse manure, hay and wood shavings, which is a potential environmental contaminant, from equine farms and process it into a renewable fuel that can be used for space heating. The Project will build on work already completed to deliver a facility which will process the raw stall waste into an alternative fuel initially to be used by large agricultural producers, primarily greenhouses (“end users”) for space heating. The main environmental outcomes will be 1) removal of the stall waste as a potential contaminate of water resources and 2) provide a renewable, locally produced source of heating fuel.

2013 New Jersey Conservation Innovation Grant Awards

Laine Farms - $26,573

Use of Specialty Commodity Crop as Alternative on Land Used for and/or Considered for Biofuel Crops to Aid and Maximize Habitat Value for Grassland Dependent Bird Species

Laine Farms will work with New Jersey Audubon Society to pursue a 3-year project on the “” The project will include an analysis of spelt seeding rates to create suitable habitat for grassland dependent bird species targeting current New Jersey State-listed wildlife species, analysis of production cost/income of spelt as an alternate crop to production cost/income of native warm season grasses that are used for biofuel, identification of spelt market in New Jersey and evaluation of spelt yield based on seeding rates used to maximize habitat potential and evaluation of grassland bird habitat presence/abundance associated with spelt fields compared to native warm season grass fields.

New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team  (NJISST) - $43,045

APPlying New Strategies to Nip Invasive Species in the Bud

NJISST will pursue a two-year project with a goal is to facilitate improvements in the implementation of the Early Detection/Rapid Response (ED/RR) strategy used to stop the spread of emerging invasive species in New Jersey’s natural and agricultural systems and prevent the spread of invasive species into new areas. Two smartphone/tablet apps will be developed and made available to help small-scale producers easily and inexpensively identify and report invasive species they come across during the course of their everyday work and help them quickly and effectively initiate efforts to contain and/or eradicate the invasive species they detect.

National CIG Award - first for New Jersey applicants!

Cape Atlantic Soil Conservation District - $91,705

Expanding Pollinator Species Habitat Sites Utilizing Compost Filter Socks

Decline of pollinator species such as the honeybee can have far reaching impacts on plant pollination and crop production. Often, farmers have a difficult time finding a plot of land on their farm suitable for creation of pollinator habitat without losing valuable agricultural production land. The time and energy cost it takes to prepare a field to plant a wildflower seed mix can also be prohibitive. The Cape Atlantic Soil Conservation District will expand or enhance pollinator species habitat areas by taking the technology of establishing a grass cover with vegetated compost filter socks and adapting it to establish on-farm pollinator habitat areas with native wildflowers.

2012 Awards

Nature Conservancy (TNC) - $51,529

Prioritizing and promoting pollinator habitat projects in the Garden State

TNC will develop a means to prioritize and promote pollinator habitat projects in the Garden State by applying GIS technology combined with current ecological research and economic data. Social surveys will be used to field test the extent of knowledge about the issues related to this important habitat and barriers to addressing these issues. Marketing materials will be developed to solicit participants for implementing on-the-ground pollinator conservation work in a prioritized area.

Musconetcong Watershed Association (MWA) - $12,230

Evaluation of in-stream restoration success on the Musconetcong

MWA will evaluate in-stream restoration successes at sites in the Musconetcong River. They will compare these sites to other stream restoration projects in the region, link monitoring findings to specific restoration methods, and develop a methods manual and a technical note for stream restoration projects.

Rutgers University - $34,501

Benefits of bats in controlling marmorated stink bug population

This project will demonstrate that bats can provide an important ecological service to New Jersey’s agricultural industry by controlling the new agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. Using DNA analysis of insect fragments in bat guano, they will attempt to show that bats can consume brown marmorated stink bugs and other agricultural pests in sufficient quantities to reduce the pest management costs for crops, such as apples, peaches, blueberries, cranberries, soybeans, and bell peppers. If successful, farmers will have a financial incentive to increase the habitat for cavity-roosting bats, a species experiencing steep declines due to White Nose Syndrome.

Rutgers University - $57,505

Effective use of energy monitoring on the farm

Rutgers will demonstrate how energy monitoring devices can be used to identify opportunities for improved energy efficiency in existing farm facilities. The project aims to educate producers and agricultural professionals in the selection, implementation and use of energy monitoring solutions. The project will provide comprehensive information on the pros and cons of the different technologies available for energy monitoring.

2011 Awards

Spectrum BioEnergy LLC - $44,160

Protection of Environmental Resources through the Implementation of High-Efficiency and Cost-Effective Anaerobic Digestion Waste-to-Energy Systems on Equine Farms

Spectrum BioEnergy will demonstrate the feasibility of using small-scale anaerobic digestion technology to convert horse manure into energy and soil nutrient for the purposes of: 1) manure management, 2) methane capture, 3) creation of renewable energy 4) reduction of ground water contamination and 5) odor management.

Atlantic County Board of Agriculture - $75,000

Demonstration and Evaluation of Conservation Systems Using Seasonal High Tunnels for Season Extension of New Jersey's Specialty Crops

This project will monitor, evaluate and demonstrate to New Jersey farmers the potential impacts of both single- and multi-bay commercial size high tunnels on nutrient, pest and irrigation management while also evaluating effective crop and cover crop rotations.

Rutgers University, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs - $67,375

Soil quality improvement with leaf wastes combined with cover crops, rotations, and reduced tillage

This project aims to increase soil health and quality, utilize community organic waste streams, decrease energy-based farm input costs, decrease industrial nitrogen fertilizer use, reduce soil-borne disease and fungicide use. A leaf application practices guide will be developed with the ultimate goal in 10 years to double the number of NJ farmland acres receiving municipal collected leaves as a carbon/nutrient resource.

2010 Awards

D&R Greenway Land Trust - $75,000

Native Plant Seed Products for New York and New Jersey Area

D&R Greenway Land Trust will demonstrate and transfer to New Jersey small growers the technologies and practices necessary to produce deliverable native plant seed products to the NY-NJ area by piloting a cooperative three-year effort between grower, client (the market) and government.

2009 Awards

Rutgers University - $32,204

Developing Science-Based Pollinator Restoration Protocols for use in Farm Bill Conservation Programs

Rutgers entomologists will examine selected native plants for use by native pollinators for various New Jersey agricultural crops. Technical recommendations for pollinator restoration plantings for use in USDA Farm Bill programs will be developed, job sheets on pollinator restoration will be produced and workshops for NRCS staff and agricultural producers will be held.

South Jersey Resource Conservation and Development Council - $18,600

No-till Pumpkin Production Demonstration Project

No-till plots and conventional till plots will be established and results compared on two farms for the no-till pumpkin production demonstration project. Soil test analysis, data on cover crop species, seeding rates, seeding dates, soil moisture levels, yield data, and economic data will be assessed. Project results will be presented at meetings and in a fact sheet promoting this innovative conservation practice.

Rutgers University -  $74,907

Protection of Environmental Resources through the Implementation of Feed Management Best Management Practices on Equine Farms

Rutgers researchers will develop methodologies for implementing NRCS Practice 592 “Feed Management” on equine farms in New Jersey. The project will demonstrate feed management at two horse farms in targeted watersheds. Rutgers will produce facts sheets, and use field days to educate the equine public about Best Feed Management Practices.

New Jersey Audubon - $75,000

New Jersey Pine Barrens Ecological Forest Management

New Jersey Audubon will develop a new specialty wood product from forest biomass produced as a result of forest improvement activities in the Pine Barrens. A fact sheet on the new product will be produced. Avian and vegetation responses to forest management activities will be analyzed and reported.

2008 Awards

Laine Farms - $75,000

A local warm season pelletizing facility will be developed in Somerset County to provide an alternate market for the warm-season grass crops in northern New Jersey. The use of the pellets to provide winter heating for agricultural structures will be further demonstrated in a partnership effort with New Jersey Audubon.

Rutgers. the State University of New Jersey - $61,193

Audit tools for use in energy-intensive horticultural and floriculture operations will be developed and tested by Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Dr. Thomas Manning at the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station will lead this project with a goal of discovering appropriate energy conservation measures that reduce total energy use, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve agricultural efficiency.

Derwood Farms - $52,934

A local source of black-oil sunflowers for a “Jersey Grown” bird seed mix will be developed by Mark Kirby of Derwood Farms in partnership with New Jersey Audubon*. The project will also include the use of an innovative bio-char product to enhance the soil condition in the sunflower fields in an effort to improve water quality and carbon sequestration.

*New Jersey Audubon won the 2011 Governor's Environmental Excellence Award for Land Conservation category for this partnership enterprise!

EnSave - $18,090

Up to five staff members from local Soil Conservation Districts and/or Resource Conservation and Development Councils will be recruited and trained to perform on-farm energy audits in New Jersey. As part of the  grant agreement, four audits will be conducted and energy saving strategies will be implemented on the audited farms.

2007 Awards

Cumberland-Salem Soil Conservation District - $75,000

This project will help to implement precision agriculture on over 10,000 acres of cropland in southern New Jersey. The grantee is working with over thirty local growers testing the ability of precision agriculture tools to reduce nutrient and pesticide applications on their operations.

2006 Awards

Rutgers University – Water Resources - $74,331

Rutgers will implement a vegetated channel system on a private nursery operation to encourage uptake of nutrients and improve infiltration of irrigation runoff into the soil. The activities carried out under this grant will: 1) incorporate turf grass and native warm season grasses into the runoff conveyance system, 2) use a water and nutrient budget as a basis for monitoring results, 3) test the recovered water for disease-causing fungus and bacteria, and 4) recommend changes to the NRCS technical standard for tailwater recovery.

Rutgers University – Environmental Sciences - $74,981

Under this agreement, Rutgers researchers will implement soil management practices in real-crop situations to determine the effectiveness and applicability of the recommended measures. The activities carried out under this grant will: 1) establish the recommended practices on several crop fields, 2) monitor the crop response and changes in soil quality indicators, 3) develop outreach materials and results reports, and 4) recommend changes to the draft NRCS technical standard for soil management.

turning mulch row at AgChoiceAg Choice, LLC - $75,000

AgChoice, a private corporation, will study the economic feasibility and environmental benefits of a regional composting facility for agricultural waste. The activities carried out under this grant will: 1) evaluate the economic efficiency of a collecting agricultural wastes from small scale and concentrated animal operations, 2) determine the environmental benefits of an aerobic covered pile composting process, 3) provide hands-on opportunities for others to learn how the facility was developed and operates, and 4) provide a summary report of the lessons learned.

2005 Awards

North Jersey RC&D - $75,000

This project is designed to provide recognition for farmers who assess the potential water quality impacts of their existing operation, and implement best management practices on their farms to reduce any negative impacts or enhance positive impacts. The project will focus on the Neshanic River watershed, an intensely farmed area of Hunterdon and Somerset counties that is part of the Raritan River basin and water supply for thousands of New Jersey residents.

horses at Rutgers Equine CenterThe Cook College Equine Science Center at Rutgers University - $75,000

This grant will fund innovative equine pasture systems and educational workshops, seminars, and fact sheets that will demonstrate how the implementation and management of these practices can improve water quality as well as herd health. As part of the grant, Rutgers will be reaching out to most of the 7,600 small livestock producers in New Jersey who may not be aware of the services available from NRCS.



updated April 5, 2018