On Wednesday, January 4, USDA issued a press release to remind program applicants that the deadline to submit a pre-proposal for a fiscal year (FY) 2012 Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) is January 31.
According to the press release, FY 2012 CIG projects will “focus on nutrient management, energy conservation, soil health, wildlife and CIG projects assessment.”
NRCS will prioritize project that demonstrate:
- Optimal combinations of nutrient source, application rate, placement and timing that improve nutrient recovery by crops.
- Procedures for refining the usefulness of the phosphorous index in reducing phosphorous losses.
- Suites of conservation practices that protect water quality.
- Renewable energy systems that reduce the use of fossil fuels and increase energy efficiency on farms.
- The impacts of cover crops, crop rotations, tillage and other conservation practices on soil health.
- Conservation practices that increase the water-holding capacity of soils.
- Decision tools that help producers assess their operations and conservation needs in order to improve wildlife habitat.
- The technology transfer potential of completed CIG projects.
While individuals can apply for a CIG, applicants are typically non-governmental organizations, State or local governments, or federally recognized Indian Tribes. Projects “must encompass the development and assessment, evaluation and implementation of either of the following: conservation adoption approaches or incentive systems, including market-based systems; or promising conservation technologies, practices, systems, procedures or activities.”
The CIG program is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as a subprogram within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
According to USDA, CIG “is a voluntary program intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production.” These projects help to transfer technology to address critical resource concerns. Grantees must match 50 percent of the funds provided by the CIG award.
For examples of past projects, including NSAC’s own CIG project, and more information about the program, you can read our earlier blog post on last year’s round of CIG awards.