WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is awarding $25 million in grants designed to help partners implement and evaluate innovative conservation practices that have demonstrated benefits on farmland.
The funding is provided through On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), a component of the Conservation Innovation Grants program first authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.
On-Farm Trials awardees work with NRCS and farmers and ranchers to implement innovative practices and systems on their lands that have not yet been widely adopted by producers. Awardees are required to evaluate the conservation and economic outcomes from these practices and systems, giving partners, producers and NRCS critical information to inform conservation work in the future.
Fourteen projects are receiving On-Farm Trials awards, including six awards under the banner of the Soil Health Demonstration Trial. These six projects focus on the adoption and evaluation of soil health management systems and practices. The remaining projects focus on irrigation water management, precision agriculture and a variety of management technologies.
This year’s awarded projects that involve Iowa:
This project from North Carolina State University adds new row crop farms to an existing network of producers in an online co-learning environment integrating technology, real-time data flow, and decision support tools to promote the use of soil health management principles including carbon storage, nitrogen cycling, and water infiltration and storage.
University of Illinois, in collaboration with Washington State University’s Extension Program and cotton, corn, soy, and wheat producers, plans to deploy a data-intensive crop management system based on on-farm precision experiments. Farmers will use these tools to conduct site-specific, data-based evaluation of the yield costs of reducing nitrogen losses, enabling data-informed input management decisions.
Texas A&M University, in collaboration with commodity boards and grower networks, will work with soybean, corn, and cotton producers across eight states to enhance on-farm adoption of integrated herbicide-resistant weed management practices through a focus on cover crops and harvest weed seed control.
In collaboration with corn, soybean, wheat, and cotton producers, Michigan State University aims to reduce nitrogen fertilizer losses from agricultural fields by implementing two interconnected strategies: site-specific, data-driven, variable-rate nitrogen fertilizer application rates, and replacement of unprofitable and/or unresponsive areas with restored native vegetation.