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News Release

USDA Invests in 22 New Projects to Spur Innovation in Grazing Lands, Organic Systems and Soil Health

Madison, Wis.July 27, 2018 – USDA will invest more than $10.6 million for 22 new projects that will drive public and private sector innovation in conserving natural resources in 27 states, including Wisconsin. The competitive Conservation Innovation Grants program helps spur development and adoption of new conservation approaches and technologies.

“Through USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants, we are able to bring together a wide array of groups to drive innovation and spur cutting-edge projects here in Wisconsin,” said Angela Biggs, state conservationist with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). “This year’s competition resulted in an impressive array of proposals that will ultimately benefit Wisconsin’s people who grow our food and fiber.”

Through this grant program, public and private grantees — including non-governmental organizations, American Indian tribes, academic institutions and local government entities — leverage the federal investment by providing a match or cost share that is at least equal to the amount of federal funding requested.

Projects focus on this year’s priority areas: grazing lands, organic agriculture systems and soil health. This year’s grants bring the total USDA investment to more than $297 million for 732 projects since 2004.

With 2018 CIG funding, three projects will aid the state of Wisconsin:

University of Wisconsin (WI, IA, PA)
Funds Requested: $1,127,673
Innovations in Cover Crop-Based Organic No-Till Systems to Improve Soil Health and Nutrient Management

Agricultural producers need more information about the best way to incorporate no-till agriculture into organic systems, where tillage is often used for weed control. The University of Wisconsin proposes to explore and demonstrate which innovations in cover crop selection, planting dates, roller type, planter modifications, and termination methods lead to the most successful organic no-till outcomes for soil health, corn and soybean yields, and farm profitability. Technology transfer, through Field Days, webinars, website articles, conference presentations, and testing of soil assessment tools, will help identify long-range impacts of organic no-till practices on soil, water and land resources.

Practical Farmers of Iowa (IL, IN, IA, MN, OH, WI)
Funds Requested: $1,039,158.86
Reviving Feed and Seed Markets to Grow Small Grains in the Corn Belt: A Market Solution for Climate and Water Protection in Agriculture

Practical Farmers of Iowa proposes to increase demand for small grains as animal feed and cover crop seed to provide crucial secondary markets needed for farmers to increase small grain acres in the Corn Belt. The project proposes to connect food companies’ desire for increasing sustainability of their supply chains with farmer desire to grow extended rotations that include small grains. Food companies will collaborate to create market solutions to increase demand and production of small grains for animal feed and cover crop seed, positively impacting water quality, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions.

The Food Group Minnesota Inc. (MN, WI)
Funds Requested: $377,075
Innovative Technology to Help Historically Underserved Farmers with Establishing, Maintaining and Evaluating Organic Practices

The Food Group Minnesota Inc. proposes to help historically underserved producers establish, maintain and evaluate organic practices on their farms, and to create innovative technology tools that support organic management decisions. The project represents a collaboration between agriculture software companies and community-based organizations serving historically underserved, transitioning or organic producers, to increase accessibility to cutting-edge tools for this group of farmers.

See the full list of this year’s projects.

NRCS funds Conservation Innovation Grants through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. The maximum grant is $2 million per project, and projects can take up to three years. These projects are designed to engage eligible producers in conservation activities that accelerate the transfer and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches.

NRCS uses these grants to work with other public and private entities to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches to address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns.


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