Six California organizations have been selected to receive $430,000 through the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) program. In addition, five organizations received nearly $2.4 million through a separate nationwide CIG program that will benefit California projects as well.
NRCS administers both programs to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative approaches and technologies on agricultural land.
“These grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving on California’s farms and ranches,” said Carlos Suarez, NRCS state conservationist in California. “The projects have the potential to improve our practice standards, planning tools, and keep pace with emerging natural resource issues.”
Other statewide CIG grants awarded are as follows:
The Resource Conservation District (RCD) of Santa Cruz County will work to demonstrate and develop systems for irrigation management and scheduling, and will work with farmers to better track nitrogen inputs in their fields.
The University of California Regents will work with growers to include native wildflower plantings in orchards and other conservation practices that have the potential to improve habitat and forage for pollinators.
The Napa County Resource Conservation District will work to demonstrate how a traditional vineyard can be converted into a drought-resilient and carbon-sequestering farm that includes multiple perennial crop types and wildlife habitat.
The University of California Regents will work to create six regional hubs over a 2-year period to evaluate impacts of conservation practices on soil health. Priorities will focus on hands-on learning, mentoring, and to create a network of farm trials.
Summer Technologies will work to integrate elements of NRCS practice standards, assessment tools, and conservation planning criteria into their PastureMap software application to help ranchers reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The University of California Regents will work to assess the effectiveness of conifer removal treatment through different processes and provide recommendations on new ways to prioritize oak woodland restoration using existing NRCS tools.
“We are excited to receive support through the state CIG program to expand our work with growers to measure and improve water and nutrient-use efficiency on farms,” said Lisa Lurie, program manager for the RCD of Santa Cruz County. “We look forward to continuing to partner with the NRCS on this important work.”
Information on the five nationwide CIG awardees can be found at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/programs/financial/cig/.