The USDA is accepting applications for up to $12.5 million in grant funding for the adoption of innovative conservation projects on agricultural lands. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which funds projects in areas including soil health, irrigation efficiency, wildlife and pollinator habitat, water and air quality, greenhouse gas markets, on-farm energy use, and conservation finance.
NRCS will accept applications through July 29, 2019, for up to $2 million in funding per project. Applicants must match the grant funding they receive at least one to one. State and local governments, nongovernmental organizations, tribes, and individuals are all eligible to apply for CIG grant awards.
CIG emphasizes novel technology and conservation approaches, meaning it will not fund projects that utilize common approaches in a given geographic area or practices available for funding through Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Notable past projects include new guidelines for rebuilding pollinator habitat and a pilot project that demonstrated the benefits of solar irrigation pumps.
The California branch of NRCS houses a statewide version of the same program. Funding is available for up to $75,000 dollars per project and applications are due on June 10, 2019. Read more information about California’s program and how to apply.
Conservation Innovation Trials Program
The 2018 Farm Bill authorized funding for another program under CIG, the On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials program. On-Farm Trials supports the implementation of conservation activities, the evaluation of their impact, and the distribution of information about potential benefits for producers. These projects are implemented by NRCS in collaboration with producers, who receive incentive payments that offset the risk of implementing new practices. Agriculture businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and non-federal government agencies are eligible to apply for up to $25 million in annual funding for On-Farm Trials. The deadline to apply for On-Farm trials is July 15, 2019. Get more information about On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials.