Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) are competitive grants that stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production. CIG uses Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, American Indian Tribes, or individuals. Producers involved in CIG funded projects must be EQIP eligible.
Through the NRCS CIG program, public and private grantees develop the tools, technologies, and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. Grantees leverage the federal investment by at least a one-to-one match.
NRCS understands the importance of supporting historically underserved, new and beginning and military veteran producers in farming and ranching. These producers are a part of the fabric of American agriculture and our communities. Annually, a portion of CIG funding is set aside for projects that support these producers.
How To Apply
National Competition - A CIG funding notice is announced each year. Funds for single or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, are awarded through a nationwide competitive grants process. Projects may be watershed-based, regional, multi-state or nationwide in scope. The natural resource concerns eligible for funding through CIG are identified in the funding announcement and may change annually to focus on new and emerging, high priority natural resource concerns.
Statewide CIG - In addition to the nationwide grants competition, the State component of CIG is available in select States each year. The State component emphasizes projects that have a goal of providing benefits within a limited geographic area. Projects may be farm-based, multi-county, small watershed, or Statewide in scope. For additional information about State CIG competitions, please contact Cheryl Rice or search for the latest postings at Grants.gov.
Appalachian Sustainable Development (KY, NC, OH, TN, VA, WV) ($386,539) - will create a transferable economic incentive system for use by small, historically underserved forest owners to conserve threatened forest ecosystems and regenerate previously mined and mono-cropped land. The project focuses on using market-based incentives to help forest owners pilot the alley cropping of high value forest botanicals using NRCS’s Multi-Story Cropping conservation practice.
American Farmland Trust (CA, IL, OH, NY, VA) ($509,533) - proposes to accelerate adoption of Soil Health Management Systems (SHMS) on land that farmers own and land they rent by: 1) quantifying the economic, soil health, water quality, and greenhouse gas outcomes experienced by farmers who have successfully adopted SHMS, 2) publishing those findings in short, compelling case studies, 3) sharing the case studies with farmers and landowners who are curious about implementing SHMS, and 4) providing tailored technical and financial assistance that may be needed to adopt and successfully maintain SHMS.
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PA, OH) ($200,326) - proposes to empower citizen-science farmers with the tools and support to assess their soil health, set management goals, and track progress. This project pursues three innovative ideas for generating improvements in soil health: 1) a citizen-science approach to monitor community progress and draw insights from the practices of soil health leaders, 2) development of open-source farm management software to facilitate data collection on working farms, and 3) outcome-based marketing that educates consumers on the importance of soil health and adds value to the businesses of farmers practicing excellent soil stewardship.
Practical Farmers of Iowa (IL, IN, IA, MN, OH, WI) ($1,039,159) - 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.
Sunny Meadows Flower Farm (Ohio) ($74,984) - This project will demonstrate a system developed for a small-scale sustainable farm to optimize greenhouse management for cut flower production, especially for winter growing in Ohio's challenging climate. Data will be evaluated during the strategic transition from a manual ventilation system to a more efficient automated, passive ventilation system with a focus on humidity, temperature, and moisture control. Through adoption of these holistic systems, and by using soil steam sterilization and Integrated Pest Management (IPM), growers can implement smart investments to scale while simultaneously decreasing the pressure from diseases and increasing plant and soil health. With a focus on soil and plant health and trying to grow organically, a plan will be created for others to follow, utilizing an automated ventilation system including ridge vents, a weather station, and humidity sensors. In addition, these methods decrease chemical inputs and improve plant resiliency and yields, while maintaining the profitability of farming operations.
Clermont SWCD (Ohio) ($66,015) - This project will develop and promote an innovative approach for planting cover crops through work with local producers to modify harvesting equipment to enable them to plant cover crops while harvesting. Using this innovative planting method and combined with other practices such as nutrient management and fertilizer application using variable rate technology, Clermont SWCD will share this technique through multiple field days, fact sheets, an interactive website and social media campaigns. Fields to be planted include an existing edge-of-field monitoring site and several with a long-term monitoring station. These, combined with other locations monitored by the East Fork Watershed Cooperative, will allow the project team to document nutrient load reductions resulting from the project.