On August 22, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the awarding of approximately $22.5 million through Conservation Innovation Grants (CIGs) to 52 nonprofit and public organizations. Twenty of the CIG projects will include some activity within the thirteen states in Southern SAWG’s region. Grant recipients must match at least 50% of the funds provided by the federal award.
Included among the awards are the following:
$581,625 to the New North Florida Cooperative Association, Inc. to enhance beginning, limited resource and socially disadvantage farmers success through the introduction of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. The project will link underserved farmers with USDA/NRCS conservation programs and alternative market opportunities, and improve the knowledge and skills of small-scale, limited resource farmers in incorporating conservation and production technologies, as well as alternative marketing strategies, into existing farm operations. The project integrates proven conservation technologies, such as plasticulture and subsurface irrigation, and farm business and market development.
$271,174 to the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture (AR, OK) which will train organic, transitioning, and sustainable vegetable farmers in production systems design and techniques that will make their operations less dependent on off-farm inputs and, in the case of weed management, reduce labor costs. Production system design will focus on the key elements of organic bio-extensive models—cover crops, green fallow, and planned crop rotations—which have not been well-explored or demonstrated in the Midsouth. We will also provide training on these techniques that include making and using compost, compost tea, plant-based foliar fertilizers, and biochar.
$468,519 to the Rodale Institute which will focus on Nutrient Management in Organic No-Till Systems in North Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.In this project, nitrogen-fixing cover crops will be used in combination with dry poultry litter and composted manures to optimize corn grain yield and quality. In addition, this project will monitor nitrogen budgets and weed shifts in the corn phase of the rotation as annual tillage is eliminated and fertilizer application are adjusted within the larger organic grain crop rotation.
$684,415 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi focused on accelerating and sustaining longleaf conservation on private lands by increasing the number of technical assistance providers on the ground and establishing a sustainable network of assistance providers that will advance private landowner stewardship initiatives that greatly benefit the Longleaf ecosystem. In addition, the project will establish a protocol for monitoring and evaluation that will serve as a key foundational element to the long-term restoration and protection of the longleaf ecosystem.
A full list of 2011 CIG Awards is available on the USDA NRCS website.