COLUMBUS, Ohio — Nov. 9, 2021 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced recently 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 to improve Appalachian’s pasture soil health in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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 and forest landowners play a crucial role in charting the course towards a climate-smart future,” said Eric Schwab, Acting NRCS State Resource Conservationist in Ohio. “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 in Ohio
Project: Diversifying Appalachia’s Pastures to Improve Soil Health
States involved: WV (lead state), OH, PA
Summary: West Virginia University Research Corporation will promote and evaluate pasture diversification through reseeding as an innovative conservation strategy. The on-farm trials will compare reseeding pasture with a highly diverse mixture to unaltered pasture and conventional reseeding. The project’s target is to move producers to a more transitional or progressive pasture management approach and seeks to demonstrate to producers across Appalachia that reseeding to increase pasture diversity provides a variety of environmental and economic benefits. The project’s approach is also about addressing barriers to adoption and intends to reach out to approximately 20 producers. Award: $592,911.
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.
The project involving Ohio is one of 16 awarded projects that 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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