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News Release

USDA Awards Conservation Innovation Projects to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Soil Health

Madison, Wis.  Nov. 15, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today it is awarding $25 million to conservation partners across the country for 18 new projects under the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials program, including a project in Wisconsin.   

On-Farm Trials projects support widespread adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers. This year’s awarded projects increase the adoption of new approaches and technologies to help agricultural producers mitigate the effects of climate change, increase the resilience of their operations and boost soil health.   

“Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners play a crucial role in charting the course towards a climate-smart future,” said Angela Biggs, NRCS State Conservationist in Wisconsin. “On-Farm Trials enable partners to work with producers to test and adopt new climate-smart systems on their operations that support agricultural production and conserve natural resources, while also building climate resilience.”  

Awarded Project in Wisconsin:  

Trialing Dietary Interventions to Mitigate Enteric Methane Emissions in Dairy Cattle

The Nature Conservancy
$537,440
Lead State: MI
States Involved: MI, WI

The Nature Conservancy will evaluate different dairy feed management strategies, including emerging feed additives. The goal of the project is to better inform greenhouse gas mitigation strategies for cattle, NRCS programs, and the development of protocols for measuring enteric emissions. This three-year project will combine on-farm trials and demonstrations, interviews and surveys of key stakeholders, and targeted communication activities to catalyze broader adoption of NRCS Feed Management Practice Standard 592.

For details on all the awarded projects, visit the NRCS website.  

About CIG On-Farm Trials  

On-Farm Trials projects feature collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. Incentive payments are provided to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches.   

The Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHD) component of On-Farm Trials focuses exclusively on conservation practices implementation and systems that improve soil health.    

Three of the four funding priorities support the wider adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices and systems:  climate-smart agricultural solutions; irrigation management technologies; and the practices/systems to build soil carbon through the SHD.    

A critical element of each On-Farm Trials project is the project evaluation. Partners must propose robust scientific approaches to their On-Farm Trials, resulting in data and analyses of the environmental, financial and (to the extent possible) social impacts of the trials.    

Sixteen of the awarded projects outlined a plan to substantively include and benefit historically underserved producers.  

NRCS intends to use the results of On-Farm Trials project evaluations and analyses to explore the development of new NRCS business practices, guidance documents, technical tools and conservation practice standards or modifications to existing ones.   

For more information about the Conservation Innovation Grants program, visit the NRCS website

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.  

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