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2004 Conservation Innovation Grants Awards


Information about the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) awardees for fiscal year 2004 is found below. The information includes the State(s) in which the project will be carried out, the total amount of NRCS funding provided, the project title, and a project summary.

Awards to Multiple States

American Farmland Trust, Agriculture Conservation Innovation Center (Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa)

Guaranteed Performance of Nutrient and Tillage Best Management Practices
A significant obstacle to inducing producer adoption of best management practices is the possibility that, in the short-term, such practices may reduce production yields. The purpose of this project is to test and evaluate the performance of an innovative, market-based, performance guarantee approach that increases producer adoption rates by removing economic risk as a barrier.

Hunter and Associates (California, North Carolina)

Treatment of Hog Manure Utilizing the Autothermal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion (ADAT) Technology
Typical hog operations face a multitude of environmental challenges. Among the most critical concerns include manure containment, odor control, and disease control. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the treatment of hog manure and lagoons, utilizing Autothermal Thermophilic Aerobic Digestion (ATAD) to improve air, water, and soil environmental quality. Digestion of hog manure using ATAD will result in a pathogen-free end product for use as an agricultural amendment, providing an economic benefit to producers.

Exponent, Inc. (Washington, Oklahoma, Missouri)

Application of Phoslock® to Control Phosphorus Release from Aquaculture and Other Agricultural Practices
Aquaculture is a growing agricultural sector; while there has been considerable focus on ground and surface water contamination from phosphorous due to terrestrial animal production, excessive phosphorous loadings from aquaculture also pose a threat to aquatic environments. The purpose of this project is to adapt a proven general phosphorous control technology to the specific control of phosphorous releases from waste waters resulting from aquacultural production operations, as well as aqueous-based animal waste management systems used in other types of agricultural production.

Wood Lumber Company (Arkansas, Oklahoma)

Sawdust / Chicken Litter Boiler and Dry Kiln with Fertilization Recovery System
Poultry house bedding is necessary to maintain the health of the chicken flock, and producers currently apply the manure-laden litter to fields as a natural fertilizer. In some regions, however, excessive application has created areas of over fertilization where soil nutrients are out of balance. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate an innovative steam-heated dry kiln facility that enables the litter to be burned as boiler fuel, produces a fertilizer from the ash, and provides both economic and environmental benefits.

Alphabetical Listing of Awards by State

Alabama's Mountains Rivers and Valleys RC&D, Inc. (Alabama)

On-Farm Demonstrations of Low Cost Alternatives for Temporary Litter Storage Facilities
Many streams in northern Alabama are on the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s list of impaired streams, due in large part to the number of poultry operations in the region. Environmental regulations require poultry producers to provide temporary storage of litter prior to land application. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate and encourage the adoption of low-cost temporary storage facilities that comply with environmental regulations, providing options to assist producers for whom larger, technologically-advanced buildings would be a financial burden.

The United Christian Community Association, Inc. (Alabama)

Management Intensive Grazing Project for Limited Resource Farmers
The benefits of management intensive grazing (MIG) have been established and supported by both research and practical observations, but a lack of training and resources for small farms has been an obstacle to implementation. The purpose of this project is to create local demonstration farms that will provide limited resource farmers with training and technical assistance in management intensive grazing practices, allowing them to optimize grazing lands and minimize the negative environmental impacts of over-grazing.

State of Arizona (Arizona)

Arizona Best Management Practices: Agricultural Water Conservation Program
In 2002, the State of Arizona established an innovative Best Management Practices program designed to conserve increasingly scarce water resources while reducing soil erosion, improving soil tilth and productivity, and reducing nutrient transmissions to surface water and groundwater supplies and agricultural emissions to the atmosphere. The purpose of this project is to greatly increase producer enrollment and add sophisticated performance evaluation, impact analysis, producer outreach and technology transfer components, based on motivating participation through the use of incentives.

Arkansas Soil and Water Conservation Commission (Arkansas)

Reducing Nutrient Runoff and Ammonia Emissions from Poultry Litter with Pasture Renovation and Litter Incorporation
One of the biggest challenges facing poultry producers today is excessive phosphorous runoff associated with land application of poultry litter. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness and accelerate the adoption of pasture renovation and litter incorporation, two best management practices designed to reduce non-point source water pollution associated with the land application of poultry litter.

Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (California)

Erosion Prevention Through Vegetated Swales for Water Infiltration
Erosion rates in the central coast region of California are among the highest west of the Mississippi River. The purpose of this project is to develop a new conservation practice that can help solve chronic soil erosion problems by encouraging stormwater run-off to infiltrate vegetated swales above cultivated fields or gullies in the erosion-prone central coast region of California.

California Dairy Campaign (California)

Dairy Waste Lagoon Irrigation Water Management
Dairy waste management and water availability are significant concerns in California, as well as in other parts of the nation. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the environmental, social, and economic effects of three new technologies in waste lagoon management integrated with irrigation management. The results will be disseminated to producers throughout the State to stimulate the adoption of these technologies.

California Sustainable Winegrowers (California)

California Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices - Innovations for Air and Water Quality
As California’s population increases and urban areas encroach on traditionally rural farmland, the State’s winegrowing community is taking a proactive, precautionary approach to address concerns resulting from public and legislative perceptions, regulatory pressures, and other growth-related issues. The purpose of this project is to advance sustainable farming practices by helping to establish voluntary high standards to be followed and maintained by the entire winegrowing community.

Sustainable Conservation (California)

Conservation Tillage for Reduced Agricultural Air Emissions in the San Joaquin Valley
California’s San Joaquin Valley faces severe air quality challenges; the region was recently downgraded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from “severe” to “extreme” non-attainment. The purpose of this project is to encourage the widespread adoption of conservation tillage land treatment methods by western irrigated cotton and dairy forage producers in the San Joaquin Valley. This will help reduce agricultural air emissions in this non-attainment area, while maintaining robust production yields and improving farm profits.

Protected Harvest (California)

Peach Resource Renewal Project: An Incentive Based Approach
California’s fruit industry is in need of innovative approaches to satisfy new environmental standards designed to improve air and water quality. The purpose of this project is to assist producers in meeting air quality, water quality, and water conservation requirements using innovative techniques and approaches. The project will educate growers about sustainable tree-fruit replanting and growing practices; replace approximately 920 acres of existing older peach orchards, reducing the use of inputs such as water, fertilizer and herbicides/pesticides (especially methyl bromide); and benefit producers and consumers through the availability of new varieties and a certification program.

Cinthia Johnson (Colorado)

Site Specific Nitrogen Management in an Intensified No-Till Dryland Cropping System
Traditional methods of applying nitrogen uniformly to crop fields are inefficient and can have significant environmental impacts through soil acidification, toxin accumulation, and ground and surface water contamination. The purpose of this project is to establish a regional demonstration project for electrical conductivity (EC) zone-based site-specific nitrogen management, resulting in improved productivity in an intensified no-till dryland cropping system.

Uncompahgre/Com, Inc. (Colorado)

Native Seed Restoration for Range and Agricultural Lands
Over the past 120 years, human activities have severely impacted native ecosystems in the Uncompahgre Plateau of Colorado. Native seed species are needed to help restore wildlife habitats and improve the quality of range lands. The purpose of this project is to help sustain long-term agricultural production on the Uncompahgre Plateau by enhancing crop diversification and economic sustainability, and rehabilitating and restoring natural ecosystems through the use of locally-produced native plant seeds.

University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (Georgia)

Demonstration of Variable-Rate Irrigation for Water Conservation and Application Optimization
In rural and farm communities, efficient water use is critical for sustainable economic development. Optimal irrigation efficiency can lead to substantial water conservation and increased crop yields. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the use, benefits, and effectiveness of an innovative variable-rate irrigation system designed to improve irrigation management, enhance water conservation, and attain optimal application efficiency.

University of Georgia Research Foundation, Inc. (Georgia)

Using Cropping Alternatives to Improve Water Quality in High-Nutrient Status Farms
In the Southern Piedmont region of Georgia, many farm fields have high soil test phosphorous levels which may result in increased risk of phosphorous contamination to surface water bodies. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of three different cropping systems in reducing nutrient flow into streams, thereby improving water quality and profitability for landowners and increasing the probability of adoption.

The Nature Conservancy (Illinois)

Quantitative Comparison of the Effects of Controlled Drainage vs. Constructed Wetlands on Water Quality at a Watershed-Scale
Tile drainage, a common practice used to drain water quickly from agricultural land, contributes substantially to altered hydrology and increased nutrient concentrations in adjacent watersheds. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the effectiveness of two practices — controlled drainage and constructed tile wetlands — in reducing nutrient and sediment concentrations and improving water quality in watersheds replete with tile drainage. Project results are expected to support the expanded use of one or both of these conservation practices.

Purdue University (Indiana)

An Information and Assessment Project for Improving Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Performance
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) promotes the dual objectives of profitable agricultural production and environmental protection by providing cost-share funds and incentive payments to producers who are willing to apply approved conservation practices. The purpose of this project is to improve how EQIP is implemented, not just in Indiana, but across the country. A combination of analysis, modeling, and producer testing will be employed to improve the ability of producers to make choices while making EQIP more transparent to the public.

Iowa Cattlemen’s Association (Iowa)

Non-Basin Technologies for Open Feedlot Runoff: Demonstration, Implementation, and Modeling
Federal and state agencies are increasingly concerned with the potential environmental risks to water bodies from runoff that is generated from beef cattle feedlots. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s revised Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) regulations allow for the use of alternative performance standards to control discharge from larger open feedlots. The purpose of this project is to design, install and evaluate the environmental performance and cost effectiveness of non-basin technologies for the treatment of open feedlot runoff, and encourage their adoption where appropriate.

Iowa Soybean Association (Iowa)

Outcomes-Based Nitrogen Efficiency Project for Corn Production
Nutrient enrichment in the Gulf of Mexico and nitrate contamination in drinking water and rural wells have focused attention and regulatory concern on losses of nitrogen from agricultural soils to tributary rivers. These water quality issues can be addressed through more efficient application of nitrogen, which can provide agricultural producers with both environmental and economic benefits. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the effectiveness of producer-directed learning, aided by new technologies to improve environmental management.

Iowa State University (Iowa)

Recycling Digested Manure Solids from Dairies
A number of different anaerobic digester technologies are currently in use on farms in the United States. The purpose of this project is to test the viability of an innovative method for handling digested solids: coupling a solid separator with a digester, and then recycling the separated solids for use as stall bedding for dairy cows. This would help producers reduce the amount of phosphorous applied to the landscape.

KLA Environmental Services, Inc. (Kansas)

Protecting Groundwater Quality from Nutrients and Pathogens in Lagoons by Utilizing a Water Balance Method of Testing Lagoon Structural Integrity
Nutrient and pathogen leaching into groundwater from livestock waste lagoons is a growing concern for animal agriculture producers. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate and refine a new method for testing the structural integrity of livestock waste lagoons to reduce the potential for groundwater contamination by nutrients and pathogens.

University of Kentucky Research Foundation (Kentucky)

Demonstration of Enhanced Technologies for Land Application of Animal Nutrient Sources in Sensitive Watersheds.
Land application of animal manure has been implicated as a leading cause of water body impairment in the United States, and is often carried out without adequate knowledge of its nutrient content or consideration of efficient methods of application. The purpose of this project is to encourage the adoption of advanced animal nutrient management strategies for animal producers in Kentucky, and evaluate the environmental benefits, cost of implementation, and producer acceptance of these strategies.

Lenawee Soil Conservation District (Michigan)

Design and Implementation of a Closed Recycling Water Management System to Provide an Alternative Use for Milkhouse Wastewater, Storm Water Runoff and Silage Leachate. 
The dairy industry faces many environmental challenges, including milkhouse waste water, silage leachate, and stormwater runoff. The purpose of this project is to design and implement a closed recycling system applicable to individual dairy farms throughout Michigan and the dairy industry nationally to reduce or eliminate wastewater as a pollutant.

State of Minnesota (Minnesota)

Conservation Drainage Demonstrations: Improving Impaired Watershed
Agricultural drainage systems in Minnesota are aging and much of the infrastructure will be repaired or replaced in the next 10-20 years, providing a unique opportunity to incorporate innovative drainage designs and practices into the existing infrastructure. The purpose of this project is to speed the development and adoption of conservation drainage practices in the State of Minnesota. Widespread adoption of innovative drainage systems by producers would likely have a significant positive impact on improving impaired waters.

Minnesota Board of Soil and Water Resources (Minnesota)

Invasive Species Management for Restored Wetlands and Native Prairie Uplands
Recent monitoring of restored and natural wetlands in Minnesota has shown a deterioration of the quality and biological diversity of both restored and natural wetlands. One of the causes of this degradation is the establishment of invasive species populations in many of the wetlands and adjacent upland buffers. The purpose of this project is to develop, implement, and evaluate effective strategies for the management of critical invasive species in degraded and restored wetlands and prairie uplands.

The Curators of the University of Missouri (Missouri)

Demonstration of Innovative Technology for Optimizing Nitrogen Application of Corn
Excess nitrogen application on corn fields results in increased potential for nitrogen loss to ground or surface waters, while reducing the amount of nitrogen applied creates a risk of diminished productivity and lower yields. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate and stimulate the adoption of innovative crop canopy reflectance sensor technology for optimizing nitrogen application on corn.

Montana State University (Montana)

Adaptation of Existing Agricultural Product Machine to Manufacture Encapsulated Grass Seeds for Use in Rehabilitation of Wildfires on Tribal and Non-Tribal Lands
Tribal and non-tribal ranchers in Montana and neighboring states face escalating costs from efforts to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and rehabilitate areas that have been burned. The purpose of this agreement is to design and field test a machine for the production of pelleted grass seed, develop guidelines, and establish recommendations for manufacturing pelleted and primed seed to improve the success of rehabilitation projects on burned-over tribal and reservation lands.

University of Nebraska (Nebraska)

Limited Irrigation Cropping Systems for Conserving Water in the Pumpkin Creek Watershed
Declining groundwater levels in irrigated areas of the Great Plains have required producers to shift to limited irrigation or return to dryland crop production. To meet this challenge of environmental and economic benefits, no-till water-conserving cropping systems that help sustain neighboring wetlands, creeks, or streams are needed. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate limited irrigation no-till cropping systems that maximize economic returns as well as irrigation efficiency while sustaining and enhancing groundwater levels.

Eric Biderman (New Mexico)

Implementing Solar Energy Technologies on Farms
Modern production farms consume large quantities of fossil fuels for a variety of on-farm uses. Solar energy provides users with a number of advantages over fossil fuels, yet little has been done to transfer solar technologies on a small scale to farms and rural areas. The purpose of this project is to design, install, demonstrate and evaluate two innovative technologies used to capture solar energy for conversion to electricity and heat on a small farm scale, and disseminate information on this technology to other producers in New Mexico and Colorado.

Cornell University (New York)

Transferring Innovative Manure Management Technology in the Northeast
Animal agriculture in the northeastern United States is struggling to remain profitable while reducing environmental impacts. Currently, there are a number of innovative on-farm manure projects in the region that demonstrate solutions to these challenges. The purpose of this project is to improve the productivity, profitability, and environmental performance of manure management for northeastern animal agriculture through an innovative partnership that will compile results from existing projects and disseminate information to producers to help them meet their environmental challenges.

Wy’East Resource Conservation and Development Council, Inc. (Oregon)

Oregon Water and Economics Optimization Project
Productive agriculture in the arid West depends on the availability and reliability of water supplies. Intensive irrigation can, however, significantly reduce and degrade water bodies and groundwater supplies. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate, through the use of innovative irrigation scheduling technology and the transfer of conserved irrigation water to in-stream use through market-based incentives, that economically viable agriculture and a quality environment are not mutually exclusive.

TMF Biogas, LLC (Oregon)

Thermophilic Anaerobic Digestion Process
There are a number of environmental challenges inherent in the operation of a large dairy concern. These challenges include air pollution (including greenhouse gas emissions), odor emissions, and groundwater contamination due to nutrient leaching. The purpose of this project is to mitigate these issues and promote sustainable farming practices on a large dairy operation through the testing and evaluation of an innovative anaerobic digester system that will produce renewable energy, return concentrated nutrients back to the farm, and substantially reduce the environmental impacts of concentrated animal agriculture operations.

The Rodale Institute (Pennsylvania)

No-Till Plus: A One-Pass Cover Crop Roller/Planter System that can Reduce or Eliminate Herbicide and Chemical Fertilizer Use on Most No-Till Acres
No-till farming is fast becoming one of the most widely-practiced conservation strategies of 21st-century agriculture; however, its overall environmental impact is mixed. The purpose of this project is to make it possible for farmers to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides and chemical fertilizers in their no-till systems, with the potential to dramatically decrease surface and groundwater contamination, by testing and demonstrating an innovative crimper/roller tool designed to convert a standing cover crop into weed-suppressing, soil-building mulch.

Pennsylvania Environmental Council (Pennsylvania)

Designing, Evaluating, and Implementing a Market-Based System for Delivery of Conservation Practice Funding
Meeting water quality goals in watersheds negatively impacted by nutrients will require significant reductions in nitrogen and phosphorous loading. Market-based systems have demonstrated the ability to reduce the costs associated with meeting environmental and conservation goals. The purpose of this project is to address nutrient-loading reductions in the Conestoga River watershed through the design, testing, and evaluation of a “reverse auction” market-based approach for trading nutrient reduction credits.

South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (South Dakota)

Marketing Carbon Sequestration Credits from Reduced Grazing and Soil Conservation
The ability to reliably package and market emissions offset credits for carbon sequestration resulting from improved crop and range land management will provide incentives for agricultural producers to participate in conservation programs. The purpose of this project is to demonstrate the benefits of a site-specific, verifiable, model-based quantification system for the generation of high-quality carbon sequestration credits. Successful demonstration and adoption may result in expanded implementation of management activities for carbon sequestration through market-based mechanisms.

Utah State University (Utah)

Cost-Effective and Reliable Anaerobic Digestion for Animal Feeding Operations
Research has provided much information about converting manure into an energy source, with several different types of anaerobic digesters evolving for on-farm use; however, there has been a significant abandonment rate of these types of digesters. The purpose of this project is to further develop and demonstrate an economically-viable way to treat manure on a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), in order to reduce odor, kill pathogens, avoid soil or water pollution, and produce energy by using innovative anaerobic induced blanket reactor (IBR) technology.

Terrance Magnan (Vermont)

Innovative Conservation of Compost for Nutrient Management and Production of Energy
Nutrient management is a significant challenge for animal agriculture operations. The purpose of this project is to provide cost-effective manure management options for animal agriculture operations through generation and recovery of heat energy from compost and the conservation of nutrients (particularly nitrogen) to benefit soil and water resources.

Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District (Virginia)

Innovative Cropping Systems Environmental Credit Program
The Innovative Cropping Systems Incentive Program (ICS) has operated in the Chesapeake Bay region of Virginia for a number of years. The purpose of this project is to quantify the benefits provided by the ICS relative to conventionally-managed systems, establish the information needed to support the valuation of water quality credits, and begin developing a market/trading approach to advance efforts that will help reduce water quality degradation within the Lower James River, Chesapeake Bay, and beyond.

Washington State University (Washington)

High Quality Fiber and Fertilizer as Co-Products from Anaerobic Digestion
Anaerobic digesters have yet to be adopted on a significant scale by animal agriculture producers, largely because they are capital-intensive, low cost-return structures. To make digesters more attractive, additional revenue streams are needed to improve the feasibility of the technology and complementary processes are required to meet excess nutrient related environmental challenges. The goal of this project is to improve feasibility of anaerobic digestion by producing two by-products: high quality fiber (to be sold as a substitute for peat moss) and struvite (which can be used as a slow-release fertilizer).