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CIG Fiscal Year 2022 Awards

USDA is investing $40 million this year for 31 new projects through CIG. This investment includes $25 million through On-Farm Trials and $15 million through CIG Classic. See the news release for more information.

Awarded projects are below.

CIG On-Farm Trials Project Selections:

A Cropping Systems Approach to Increase Farmer Profitability, Reduce Nutrient Losses and Improve Soil Health in Soybean and Corn Production
Research on conservation practices is often focused on single components within a cropping system, such as cover crop versus no-cover crop or time of cover crop termination. To accelerate the adoption of improved practices, farmers could benefit from synthesized holistic and logistically feasible cropping systems. Iowa Soybean Association will promote the adoption of newly synthesized cropping systems that increase profitability, reduce nutrient losses, and improve soil health. Project objectives include characterizing profitability and natural resource outcomes for improved cropping systems and developing new economic insights, natural resource conservation, and improved cropping system stability via crop modeling and statistical analysis. 
Enhanced Nutrient Management in the New York City Drinking Water Supply Watershed and Delaware County New York: Breaking Barriers to Enhanced Nutrient Management Adoption on Small Scale, Resource-Challenged Family Farms in the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware River, and New York City Watersheds
Small farms are struggling to effectively manage their manure storages and nutrient management plans as new and changing regulations have placed more limitations on manure application. Delaware County in New York aims to improve manure management by developing a custom manure application service and incentivize farms to adopt innovative manure management technologies. The project will quantify and model environmental impacts on water quality. Results of the project will be used to inform and shape local conservation programs. 
Quantifying Nutrient Budgets in the Farmer-to-Farmer Digital Conservation Network
Kansas State University will launch the Farmer-to-Farmer Digital Conservation Network (F2F_DCN). This new program will establish a network of collaborators that generate nutrient budget information at the farm level and provide education programs concerning the implementation of data management technologies at the farmer level. Participating producers will conduct farmer-run research with assistance from a team of experts, increasing access to improved data on nutrient budgets and more practical field-scale data.  
Exploring Relay Intercropping in Iowa: Impacts on Diversity, Soil Health, Water Quality, Economics and Social Norms
Iowa State University of Science and Technology will demonstrate the advantages of a relay intercropping system to maintain or enhance productivity and profitability while improving soil health and increasing nutrient reductions. A diverse intercropping system will add cropping system resiliency and promote a more diversified and stable community of soil organisms, from microbes to earthworms, while suppressing pathogens and crop pests and benefitting nutrient cycling and soil structure.
Soil Health through Shelterbelt Planting, Sheet Mulching and Tree Mulch Plant-Available Nitrogen Calculator
The University of Hawaii will evaluate the benefits of planting shelterbelts on the perimeters and within rows of crop land as an alternative to cover cropping for soil health conservation.  Participating producers will use sheet mulching to supplement plant-available nitrogen from nitrogen fixing trees (shelterbelt planting).  The evaluation will be used to develop a tree-mulch plant-available nitrogen calculator to estimate how much nitrogen can be recycled from various multi-purpose, nitrogen-fixing trees.
Evaluation of New Strategies to Increase Water Use Efficiency under Drought Conditions
The University of Hawaii will implement on-farm demonstrations and community education programs to promote the long-term adoption of cover crops, intercrops, and no-till practices in Maui County, Hawaii. These practices will be adopted by twelve underserved producers to increase water use efficiency, enhance soil moisture content, and reduce surface and groundwater depletion. The on-farm trial sites are located in Maui dry areas and will demonstrate solutions that can be scaled within the district as well as provide a template for other areas of the county and state.
Vermicompost Application to Improve Soil Health and Mitigate Climate Change
UC-Davis will quantify the effects of vermicompost on soil health on twelve farm sites using the most representative annual and perennial crops in California and Washington.  The project team will evaluate the economic and financial implications of using vermicompost as well as the potential of vermicompost use to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and retain water as compared to conventional practices.
Breaking Down Barriers to Biochar Adoption On Farms from Coast to Coast
Biochar is a proven powerful tool in the soil health toolbox. American Farmland Trust will leverage its regional programs, partners, and farmer connections to break down barriers to biochar applications. The project will install regional demonstration trials and create local biochar source-market connections between biochar producers, partners, and farmers.
How Low Can You Go? Automating Tailwater Reuse in Rice to Reduce Freshwater Demand and Greenhouse Gas Emissions
By stimulating the adoption of a production system that reuses tailwater in an automated, furrow-irrigated rice production system, Mississippi State University aims to reduce freshwater demand for irrigation and decrease greenhouse gas emissions. This project will support the adoption of tailwater reuse and furrow irrigation on 16 farms. This technique can both reduce water use (by 60%) and methane emissions (by 80%) while maintaining yields in rice fields and minimizing nitrous oxide emissions.
Quantification of groundwater recharge and design criteria for on farm subsurface recharge
The use of subsurface tile (perforated pipe) for groundwater recharge represents a new effort to implement recharge activities on orchard grounds without impacting crop production. The Shafter-Wasco Irrigation District plans to quantify groundwater recharge volumes and develop design criteria for on-farm subsurface recharge systems based on input and data collected from participating producers. The added recharge capacity will help alleviate drought vulnerabilities and help improve groundwater resources.
Advancing Precision Variable Rate Irrigation Technology to Optimize Crop Water Productivity and Environmental Sustainability
This project brings together three different production rotations (corn/cotton; corn/peanut and corn/bean) and tests a novel suite of existing technology solutions.  The University of Florida will compare variable rate irrigation (VRI) with soil electrical conductivity (EC) mapping and VRI with high resolution remote sensing with uniform rate irrigation to evaluate the environmental and associated economic benefits of adopting the VRI. The project will design a physical model-based predictive control system for adaptive VRI and develop a zone-delineation tool to assess the field variability at a regional scale.
Demonstration of Climate Smart Agricultural Solutions for Sugarcane and Rice Production in Southern USA
Many climate-smart conservation practices have not been widely adopted in the Southern region of the U.S. due to the perception of uncertain impacts on agronomic yields. Louisiana State University will work exclusively with underserved producers to implement and showcase climate-smart conservation practices and systems to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from rice and sugarcane while increasing or maintaining agronomic yields. 
Fighting Methane with MIGHT (Microbiome Insights into Greenhouse gases using High-throughput Technologies)
Native Microbials Inc. will implement the use of a next generation, rumen-native microbial feed supplement to both improve feed efficiency and reduce enteric methane emissions on 20 commercial dairy farms in the Western United States. The project team will evaluate the environmental, economic, and social impacts of a climate-smart solution that sustainably mitigates enteric methane emissions and provides a novel enteric methane emissions quantification method for dairy cattle at a commercial scale.
Black Women’s Regenerative Farming Project
Green Heffa Farms will promote innovative conservation approaches specifically targeting the unique needs and limitations of producers who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Project partners have recruited black women, beginning farmers to implement conservation approaches that reclaim traditional ecological knowledge to compare the effects of composting and mulching, cover cropping, conservation crop rotation, low-till to no-till, and herbaceous wind barriers. The project will focus on expanding knowledge of traditional medicinal plants and regenerative organic farming practices. 

CIG Classic Project Selections:

Demonstration of Crop Rotation and Cover Crop Influence on Urban Agriculture (UA) Farms through Sensor and Geospatial Technologies
Urban agricultural (UA) production is increasingly coming under pressure due to its nutrient intensive and often nutrient-inefficient practices which are resulting in excessive nutrient pollution in urban regions. This project will evaluate and implement the various innovative conservation practices such as cover crops, crop rotation and agricultural monitoring through sensors and remote sensing, which would result in increased soil carbon, decrease in nutrient losses, leading to efficient UA smart crop production systems.

Integrating Insecticidal Baits-Biocontrol Agents as a Novel and Sustainable Invasive Ant Management Tool
An innovative method to manage invasive ants that form mutualistic relationships with crop pests will be developed. The novel and sustainable ant management tool targeting bigheaded ants in agriculture integrates biocontrol, chemical control, and a revolutionizing delivery system (biodegradable alginate hydrogel).

Converting Invasive Biomass into Biochar to Improve Tropical Soil Health to Support Reforestation and Agriculture In Hawaiʻi
Biochar will be created from biomass generated from four highly invasive tree species (haole koa (Leucaena leucocephala), strawberry guava (Psidium cattleianum), albizia (Albizia julibrissin), and dillenia (Dillenia suffruticosa)) that are targeted for removal across the Island. Biochar created from these invasive feedstocks will be evaluated for quality and applied onto twenty test plots located in five different eco-systems.

Accelerating Silvopasture Adoption through the ASSETS Partnership
This project focuses on getting silvopasture established on farms through incentive payments and entry to carbon markets. The project will work to better understand producer motivation and provide producer and technical service provider training to expand knowledge and speed adoption.

Overcoming Climate Smart Adoption Barriers by Demonstrating the Value of Linking No-Tillage, Cover Crops, and Enhanced N Management into a Single System
No-tillage and cover crop adoption are often very low when full season crops are grown in subhumid frigid soil. This project combines three individual practices (no-till, cover crops, and smart fertilizer technologies) on subhumid, frigid soils in South Dakota to leverage the strengths of each for synergistic benefits including reduced risk of planting delays and yield losses due to N stress in frigid soil zones.

The Regenerative Catalyst Fund: Activating Climate Smart Agriculture
The project creates a regenerative catalyst fund to help farmers adopt climate smart conservation practices in the pacific northwest and upper Midwest regions of the U.S. The project will address key economic, logistical, and cultural barriers to adoption of climate smart agriculture by building on past project successful models.  

Innovative Technologies to Reduce Beef Industry Ghg Emissions
This project will generate science-based estimates of CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions from the livestock grazing and finishing sectors using novel technologies and evaluate potential CO2e reductions from conservation practices. Estimates will inform a CO2e reduction inset market for the beef supply chain to incentivize adoption.

Implementing a Climate-Smart Precision Cover Crop and Nitrogen Management Decision Support Tool
This project will merge precision (variable rate nitrogen applications) and sustainable (cover crops and reduced tillage) agricultural practices by expanding an existing cover crop nitrogen calculator to include a geospatial platform. The enhanced precision cover crop nitrogen calculator will provide in-field variable nitrogen fertilizer recommendations to growers and estimates of greenhouse gas reductions from improved nitrogen management with cover crops.

Building Ecosystem Resiliency through Innovative Silvopasture Systems On South Carolina Farms
The innovation in this project is a silvopasture strategy that combines native warm season forages, pollinator alleys and established pine stands to help South Carolina farmers interested in climate-smart agriculture. The innovation will help producers enhance crop and livestock productivity, increase the resiliency of their land, and diversify their profits in the face of global climate change.

Scaling the Kentucky Climate-Smart Cereal Rye Cover Crop Initiative
Through producer incentives, a long-term revolving fund, and catalyzing a rye market through scaled adoption, this project will make viable the long-term adoption of winter cereal rye.  Rye in rotation with corn and soybean cash crop systems will increase farm economic viability, environmental resilience, and rapidly scale on-farm conservation practices that achieve ecosystem service and environmental benefits like climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

Evaluating Climate Resilient Alternative Winter-Feeding Strategy for Improved Livestock Productivity by Grazing in a Solar Corridor Cropping System
An alternative winter-grazing system based on companion production of a high-energy grain crop and high-protein forage crop(s) in the solar corridor cropping system (SCCS) will be evaluated for forage yield and nutritional quality, soil health impacts, and economic viability during a three-year SCCS cycle.

Integration of Climate Smart Technologies for Sustainable Crop Systems
The goal of this project is to demonstrate the integration of cover crops and precision tillage as climate-smart technologies to increase resiliency to short-term droughts, improve soil health parameters, and reduce atmospheric carbon concentrations by decreasing emissions and increasing sequestration. In-field data layers (soil mapping, moisture, compaction) will be coupled with soil health parameters, disease/insect/weed surveys, and cash crop yield to quantify different management systems. Cover crop biomass data will be coupled with real-time CO2 data and tillage data to quantify carbon savings and sequestration due to introduced smart farming practices.

An Artificial Intelligence Drought Planner: Producer Tools to Plan for Drought, Predict Forage Production, and Reduce Soil Carbon Loss in Beef Cattle Production Systems
This project brings drought, forage, precipitation forecasting data together with ranch-specific forage measurement and modeling to help beef cattle producers on Tribal Ranches in the United States manage drought while maintaining conservation and operational goals. 

Deploying a Climate-Smart Productive Alley Cropping System (PACS) for Income Diversification and Farm Resiliency
Intercropping a diverse mix of native, perennial species to maximize resilience, productivity and farm income. The project will demonstrate improved soil health, soil quality and water quality as well as GHG emission reductions. Alley cropping would involve high value commodities planted on marginal croplands to increase environmental benefits and economic opportunities for small producers. 

Modernizing Fertilizer Recommendations for Climate-Smart Crop Production: The Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST)
$630,861, $437,996, and $553,413, respectively
These three projects aim to increase the accuracy and transparency of soil-test based fertilizer recommendations by providing clear and consistent interpretations that can be used throughout the US. Improving soil-test-based recommendations and their interpretation has the potential to significantly reduce nutrient applications by accurately identifying the critical soil test value.

Three universities will collaborate in leading, and each has a separate award:

University of Arkansas
Modernizing Fertilizer Recommendations for Climate-Smart Crop Production: The Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST)
This component is the umbrella project that integrates soil test correlation and calibration data derived from the two regional projects, data from legacy projects, and continues testing, refinement, and upgrades of the FRST decision tool.

University of Connecticut 
Modernizing Fertilizer Recommendations for Climate-Smart Crop Production in the Northeastern Region: The Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST)
This component will update soil test correlation and calibration from new P and K fertility trials in six Northeastern states for multiple row crops and vegetable crops and establish a regional platform.

Louisiana State University
Modernizing Fertilizer Recommendations for Climate-Smart Crop Production in the Southern Region: The Fertilizer Recommendation Support Tool (FRST)
This component will update soil test correlation and calibration from new P and K fertility field trials in five Southern states for multiple row cropping systems with incorporation of cover crops and develop guidelines for banded P fertilizer recommendation.