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NRCS Seeks Applications for $25 Million in Conservation Innovation Grants

Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty today announced that USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking new proposals for cutting-edge projects that will provide new conservation opportunities through its competitive Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program. NRCS will invest up to $25 million for projects that spark the development and adoption of innovative conservation technologies and approaches in areas like conservation finance, data analytics, and precision conservation to benefit producers on private agricultural and forest lands.

"Conservation Innovation Grants have played a critical role in developing and implementing creative new methods to conserve the nation's private agricultural lands and strengthening rural communities," said Hardisty. "Today's announcement builds on our support of technologies and approaches that help producers increase resiliency to extreme weather such as drought and floods."

CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and fosters innovative conservation projects that accelerate the transfer and adoption of promising technologies that benefit natural resources, agricultural production and forest management. The 2017 focus areas for project proposals include the following:

  • Innovative approaches that benefit historically underserved and veteran farmers, beginning farmers and those with limited resources;

  • Natural resources data analytics tools—such as software and mobile apps—that increase producer knowledge of conservation benefits and alternatives;

  • Precision conservation tools that uncover opportunities for better input management (for example, nutrient management addressing source, timing, rate and placement), or address in-field vulnerabilities;

  • Conservation finance approaches that demonstrate the potential for new investment strategies to accelerate and expand private lands conservation;

  • Demonstration, evaluation and quantification of the effects of water management and soil health practices to minimize off-site impacts of natural resource challenges, such as excess sediment and nutrient runoff;

  • Pay-for-success models that stimulate conservation adoption and achievement of measurable outcomes.

Potential applicants should review the announcement for program funding that is available on Proposals are due by Jan. 9, 2017, and final CIG funding is subject to fiscal year 2017 funding actions. American Indian tribes, state and local units of government, non-governmental organizations and individuals are eligible to submit proposals.

For more information about NRCS and other technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or contact your District Conservationist Debbie Knepp at 574-936-2024 Ext. 4.

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