Researching innovative ways to market grass-fed livestock and improve nutrient reduction highlight the six Iowa 2014 projects selected through USDA's Conservation Innovation Grants or CIG program.
USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service administers the CIG program through the 2014 Farm Bill. The CIG requires a 50/50 match between NRCS and the applicant. Each state can select proposals intended to stimulate the development and adoption of new conservation approaches, in conjunction with agricultural production.
Iowa NRCS is providing $388,042 to the projects, which range from 1 to 3 years in length. Grant recipients are all non-governmental organizations partnering with other organizations to help them complete their goals. Below is a complete list of Iowa's 2014 CIG projects:
• Pathfinders Resource Conservation & Development Area, Inc. to find ways to "Increase Markets for Grass Fed Beef Producers in Southern Iowa." ($75,000 through Aug. 31, 2017)
• Iowa State University is receiving a CIG to "Extend Field Scale 4-R Nutrient Management to Watershed Scale Outcomes." ($74,865 through Dec. 31, 2016)
• Iowa League of Cities to develop "Nutrient Trading through the Iowa Nutrient Reduction Strategy's Technology-Based Standards." ($74,310 through Aug. 31, 2015)
• The Nature Conservancy to find "Economic and Ecological Benefits of Sustainable Grazing in the Little Sioux Watershed." ($58,092 through Sept. 1, 2017)
• Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development, Inc. for the "Demonstration of the Rapid Land Cover Mapper Tool as a Method of Systematically Quantifying the Engagement of Landowners and Adoption of Conservation Practices." ($75,000 through Aug. 31, 2017)
• Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development Inc., for "Marketing Northeast Iowa's Grass Fed Livestock." ($40,000 through Aug. 31, 2017)
National CIG projects with ties to Iowa announced by USDA
Three projects with local ties were selected for national Conservation Innovation Grants. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced them September 15. These projects include:
• Winneshiek Energy District to establish an agricultural energy planning program partners including NRCS, soil and water conservation districts, Iowa State University Extension, producer groups, and utilities. ($408,692)
• National Corn Growers Association to address the need for improved soil health and water quality in the Mississippi River Basin, Great Lakes Basin and Chesapeake Bay Watershed by developing recommendations to farmers on a variety of soil management practices aimed at improving productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes. ($998,000)
• Winrock International Institute of Agricultural Development will establish and monitor 50-acre, side-by-side control and treatment plots within cornfields on eight farms that combine rotational grazing and multi-species cover crops. They will research soil health, water infiltration, erosion reduction, and production capacity of the land. ($395,930)
For more information about CIG, visit the Iowa NRCS website and click on "Programs."