The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting proposals for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG). Applications for CIG are due by April 23. The competitive grants are designed to promote innovation in resource conservation in both the public and private sectors. Funding support through CIG can be applied to on-farm trials, field demonstrations, as well as pilot projects. CIG projects take innovative approaches to improve water quality, soil health, and wildlife habitat. The program is designed to promote the implementation of innovative conservation practices on agricultural, forest lands, and oak woodlands.
“The scope of this year’s CIG is much broader than last year’s and is not limited to on-farm trials,” State Conservationist for NRCS in California, Carlos Suarez said in a news release. “NRCS will invest up to $1 million for on-farm trials, field demonstrations and pilot projects in 2021.”
In agriculture, innovation grants help apply conservation practices that will boost production on farms and ranches. CIG offers opportunities to develop and demonstrate conservation practices with a proven record of success but not yet to be widely adopted. Some of the priorities for CIG funding this year include quantifying the benefits of soil health and carbon sequestration. The CIG program is also focusing on technologies related to air and water quality on agricultural lands, as well as pollinator and wildlife habitat.
CIG projects can be watershed-based, regional, or statewide in scope. Funding support helps offset the cost for partners to apply new conservation practices and techniques. NRCS will be accepting proposals from non-federal entities such as nonprofits, county and state governments, as well as public and private institutions of higher learning. Individuals and tribal governments and organizations are also eligible. The application form for innovation grants is available online through Grants.gov. NRCS anticipates making CIG selections by May 21. Awards are expected to be executed by June 18.