The USDA announced $15 million for conservation funding under the Conservation Innovation Grant program. Over $2 million of those dollars are coming to Indiana. Three programs that will be funded in part by the CIG program will benefit Hoosier landowners. A program with the NASWCD along with a 7 state program through the National Corn Growers Association will focus on improving soil health techniques in Indiana. In addition, State Conservationist Jane Hardisty said a $998,000 grant was approved for Purdue University, “This is a program we are really excited about because Purdue is going to do some in-depth soil health assessment methods and look at some of the carbon and nutrient cycles that we don’t have much monitoring on.”
Hardisty says the grant program is a 60/60 match of federal and private dollars to develop and implement new techniques that can be used on the land to improve soil health and conservation, “The CIG program is not for research, but rather to implement innovative ideas that farmers can put to work on their land.” US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Villsack made the announcement of the grant recipients on a corn and soybean farm near Bradley, Illinois on Monday afternoon. “These grants promote creativity and problem-solving efforts that benefit farmers and ranchers and protect our natural resources,” Vilsack said. “They’re critical in sparking new ideas and techniques for conservation on America’s private lands and improving the environment.” The grants are funded through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Grantees must work with producers and forestland owners to develop and demonstrate the new technologies and approaches.
With corn and soybean prices forecast to be lower next year, Hardisty says farmers are seeking ways to maintain their soil fertility without spending a lot of money. These grant programs will help develop practices that do just that, “Adopting the use of cover crops, no-till, and nutrient plans are really catching on with farmers.”
The National Corn Growers Association and the National Association of Conservation Districts, both involved with conservation activities in Illinois, are receiving grant awards to demonstrate the use of best management practices such as conservation tillage, cover crops, and advanced nutrient management to address soil health concerns. Almost half of the grants announced support the agency’s priority of getting more conservation on the ground by improving the health of our nation’s soils. The National Corn Growers Association will receive almost $1 million to promote soil management practices aimed at improving productivity, profitability, and environmental outcomes in seven states. The National Association of Conservation Districts will receive $750,000 to fund a project to significantly increase the number of farmed acres nationwide that are successfully managed for soil health.