USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced that two Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) impacting Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were awarded to Virginia Tech and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Together, these two entities will receive $1.5 million to demonstrate innovative approaches to improving soil health and managing nutrients for improved water quality as part of a productive agricultural system. These two entities were among the latest round of recipients for NRCS’ National CIG program.
NRCS awarded a total of $25 million to 33 entities across the nation to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas to accelerate private lands conservation. The grants, which are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, assist grantees in working with producers who wish to develop and test new conservation technologies and approaches. At least 50 percent of the total cost of CIG projects must come from non-federal matching funds, including cash and in-kind contributions provided by the grant recipient.
“Conservation Innovation Grants help initiate creativity and problem-solving to benefit our farms and forests,” said Sally Kepfer, Acting NRCS State Conservationist for Delaware. “These grants are critical for demonstrating and encouraging new ideas for conservation on our private lands and for strengthening rural communities. We are glad that the grant recipients will help USDA to advance agriculture and protect our natural resources.”
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (DE, MD, VA, PA, NY) – $821,384
Public and private sectors will join with partners and producers to advance the use of manure injection technology in high-density animal production regions of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to improve water quality.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (DE, MD, VA) – $748,648
Producers on the Atlantic Coastal Plain will be encouraged to control nutrient loss with comprehensive drainage/ditch management systems that trap sediment and nutrients from artificially drained agricultural lands.
NRCS has offered CIGs since 2004. Since then, the grants have helped develop trading markets for water quality and have shown how farmers and ranchers may use fertilizer, water and energy more efficiently.
For a detailed list of summaries of selected projects, visit USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants webpage. For additional information on NRCS conservation programs in Delaware, visit www.de.nrcs.usda.gov or contact your local USDA Service Center. In Sussex County, call 302-856-3990, ext 3; in Kent County, call 302-741-2600, ext. 3; and in New Castle County, call 302-832-3100, ext. 3.