The California office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service selected five Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) projects that will receive a combined $450,000. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers CIG as part of its Environmental Quality Incentives Program. NRCS uses CIG to invest in innovative conservation technologies and approaches with the goal of wide-scale adoption to address natural resource issues.

“These grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving on California’s farms and ranches,” said Carlos Suarez, state conservationist for NRCS in California. CIG grants were awarded for: 

  • The University of California will work with small grain producers to demonstrate and facilitate best nitrogen fertilizer management practices.
  • Land Trust of Napa County will study the effects of fuels-reduction prescribed grazing on plant communities in oak woodland habitats.
  • American Farmland Trust will develop a framework for decision making to prioritize water infiltration and farmland protection projects for conservation resilience in the San Joaquin Valley and other areas of California.
  • The University of California will gather data to address key questions related to water quality impacts of swine grazing and develop best management practices for these types of operations. 
  • Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation will seek to increase adoption of Bee Better Certified (BBC) label specific to vineyards.  
  • California Deer Association will study the feasibility of using Thermal Imaging drone technology to rescue and relocate deer and pronghorn fawns and elk calves thereby reducing wildlife mortality.  

More information on CIG can be found here.

In a separate announcement, USDA’s NRCS announced $1.9 million in funding for 15 Soil Science Collaborative Research projects focused on soil science and soil survey research. The University of California – Davis was selected for a project to develop a simpler, automated soil taxonomy process that will greatly simplify the task of soil classification. All of the projects are summarized here.