The USDA is announcing more than 30 Conservation Innovation grants, several involving Nebraska.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Natural Resources Conservation Service is already doing a good job in instituting conservation projects.
“One of the critical components though for us maintain our edge in conservation is for us to continue to be innovative and innovation will be key to managing the capacity to manage and adapt to climate changes,” Vilsack says. “It will be key for us to continue to learn and expand on our soil health campaign, and it obviously is critically important to water quality.”
Vilsack says one of the grants involves researching and promoting the planting of cover crops through the multi-state Conservation Technology Information Center.
“This award will basically fund roughly 1,000 acres that will help us hopefully dispel some of the myths that may be in the countryside that have discouraged producers from focusing on cover crop production,” according to Vilsack.
Cover crops can be grasses or small grains that are planted between the primary crop production times to protect the soil.
Another program will involve nutrient research in western Nebraska by staffers from Colorado State University. Vilsack says each of the projects will provide valuable data.
“This is going to be important information that we’ll obtain from these innovative grant recipients and will help to educate and to assist us in the future in terms of conservation programs,” Vilsack says.
The innovation grants were created in the 2008 Farm Bill. Vilsack says it’s important Congress take action to pass a new Farm Bill to ensure these types of programs continue.