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News Release

USDA Funds Conservation Innovation with $14.6 Million Investment in New Tools, Technology Development

Lori Ziehr

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding more than $14.6 million in grants in states across the country to support the development of innovative systems, tools, and technologies for production and conservation on agricultural lands. Funds are provided through the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which awards grants to organizations, universities, and others that are developing innovations to support farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners.

In Texas, there are two projects that have been approved for funding:

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research

NRCS Award: $735,239

Biocarbon-enhanced dairy manure management demonstration for enhanced water quality

Texas A&M will develop and demonstrate a biochar-assisted phytoremediation system for enhancing water quality during dairy manure application in three Texas counties. It will improve knowledge of field-applied calcium hydroxide-coated biochar and how, when used in conjunction with plants, it can help enhance water quality during dairy manure application.

  • Texas Water Trade

NRCS Award: $194,500

Protecting and restoring flow in the Pecos River Basin

Texas Water Trade will test the marketability of various contract structures with agricultural producers in the Pecos River Basin to develop a replicable, effective and voluntary legal mechanism to provide reliable flows in critical aquatic and riparian habitat. They will test the feasibility of voluntary water savings while maintaining existing water rights through the contribution of unused water to the maintenance of stream flow and aquatic habitat.

This USDA investment has generated more than $15.3 million in partner matching funds, resulting in almost $30 million for conservation innovation. Authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill, the CIG program has awarded nearly $300 million to-date.

The 2020 funding pool focused on five priority areas: air quality, water quality, water reuse, energy conservation, and wildlife habitat. This is the first year that water reuse is a priority area, pursuant to USDA’s commitment under the National Water Reuse Action Plan, announced by the Environmental Protection Agency on February 27, 2020.  

NRCS selected 24 projects for the 2020 CIG awards. For a full list of projects and descriptions, visit the CIG website.

More About CIG

CIG is a competitive grants program that supports development, testing, and research of conservation technologies, practices, systems, and approaches on private lands. Grantees must match the CIG investment at least one to one.

All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply at Funding announcement and additional information can be accessed through the CIG website.