California to receive more than $ 5.5 million for conservation projects


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it is providing $ 25 million to conservation partners across the country for 18 new projects in the on-farm innovation trials of the Conservation Innovation Grants program. (CIG), including four projects and over $ 5.5 million in California.

On-farm trial projects support the adoption and large-scale evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers. The projects awarded this year increase the adoption of new approaches and technologies to help agricultural producers mitigate the effects of climate change, increase the resilience of their operations and improve soil health.

“Farmers, ranchers and forest owners play a crucial role in charting the course for a climate-smart future,” said Carlos Suarez, state curator of the NRCS in California. “On-farm trials allow partners to work with producers to test and adopt new climate-smart systems on their operations that support agricultural production and conserve natural resources, while building climate resilience. This large investment in innovation is a recognition of the ability of California’s agriculture and conservation partnerships to address emerging and existing conservation issues.

Award-winning projects in California:

  • Climate Smart Irrigation for Drought, Fertility, and Structural Resilience in Almond Systems (California) The University of California, Davis will encourage almond growers to adopt deep root irrigation, pressure compensated underground drip irrigation and Hybrid Pb. Hybrid Pb is a new grass cover crop from cool season which differs from traditional cover crops in that it is perennial with a ten-year lifespan and is dormant in summer.
  • Decision support system for irrigation with limited water (California, Oregon) Irrigation for the Future will demonstrate an advanced decision support system designed to calculate water productivity and optimize the economics of field-by-field irrigation management.
  • Combine climate smart agriculture and pollinator conservation to take advantage of market-based incentives (California, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Washington) Xerces Society will demonstrate, evaluate and quantify conservation practices designed to maximize the dual goals of climate-smart agriculture and pollinator conservation at the farm level.
  • Overcoming Barriers for Historically Underserved Growers in California’s San Joaquin Valley to Implement Combined Soil Health Practices Through Participatory Planning and Assessment on Diversified Farms (California) Regents at the University of California will address the barriers historically underserved smallholder producers face in adopting soil health practices and systems. The project will allow producers to adapt their practices to the unique circumstances of their operations and to test the performance of various combinations of practices.

For details on all awarded projects, visit the NRCS website.

About on-farm GIC testing

On-farm trial projects involve collaboration between NRCS and partners to implement conservation activities in the field and then assess their impact. Incentive payments are offered to producers to offset the risk of implementing innovative approaches.

The Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHD) component of on-farm trials focuses exclusively on the implementation of conservation practices and systems that improve soil health.

Three of the four funding priorities support the wider adoption of climate-smart farming systems and practices: climate-smart farming solutions; irrigation management technologies; and practices / systems for building soil carbon through SHD.

Project evaluation is an essential part of every on-farm trial project. Partners should come up with sound scientific approaches for their on-farm trials, resulting in data and analyzes of the environmental, financial and (to the extent possible) social impacts of the trials.

The NRCS intends to use the results of evaluations and analyzes of on-farm trial projects to explore the development of new NRCS business practices, guidance documents, technical tools and standards of practice. retention or modifications to existing ones.

For more information on the Conservation Innovation Grants program, visit the NRCS website.

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