USDA invests $1.2 million with Ohio State University to support climate-smart ag

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced a $1.2 million investment by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in an innovative project with Ohio State University to advance climate-smart agriculture as it relates to efficiently irrigating and applying nutrients to crops. This project is one of 19 new Conservation Innovation Grants nationwide and one of two in Ohio announced by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). 

Secretary Vilsack announced the investment while at Ohio State University with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown. The Secretary underscored how the Build Back Better agenda will support the development and promotion of climate-smart agriculture practices and conservation measures.  

“Innovation is key to addressing the climate crisis and conserving the natural resources we all depend on,” Vilsack said. “We know we cannot do it alone, and through Conservation Innovation Grants, we bring partners to the table who are using the latest science and research to come up with solutions that work for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners and help ensure the longevity of American agriculture.”  

The $1.2 Million project Ohio State University is being awarded focuses on a robotic irrigation system that aligns nutrient application timing to a crop’s nutrient needs and improves irrigation efficiency, having high probability of impacting water quality and reducing evaporation. The project will be implemented in Ohio and Iowa.

The other project funded, a $500,000 investment with Maumee Watershed Alliance (MWA), will demonstrate the impact of phosphorus recovery technologies, while exploring the market value of resultant co-products. 

The MWA project will demonstrate phosphorus recovery technologies at three different sites with the aim of illustrating 80% total phosphorus removal over extended demonstration periods. The MWA will also explore the market value of two resultant co-products — dewatered manure solids and Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP) — to serve as a cost recovery mechanism and facilitate large scale adoption. The project will be implemented in Ohio, Indiana and Michigan.

2021 investment

Nationally, this year’s CIG Classic program will award $15 million for 19 new projects. These projects focus on helping agricultural producers mitigate the effects of climate change and increase the resilience of their operations. Many of the projects will focus on providing conservation benefits for historically undeserved producers. 

CIG is a competitive program that supports the development of new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands. Through creative problem solving and innovation, CIG harnesses the expertise, resources, and capacity of partner organizations nationwide to help us boost natural resource conservation on private lands and support climate smart agriculture.”   

Funding priorities for this year included: climate-smart strategies for water resources; soil health (focused on climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience); nutrient management; grazing lands conservation; and strategies to increase conservation adoption.  

For full project descriptions, visit the NRCS website.  

About the CIG Program 

The national CIG program has two parts: CIG Classic and CIG On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Through CIG Classic, partners develop new tools, technologies and strategies to support next-generation conservation efforts on working lands and develop market-based solutions to resource challenges. CIG On-Farm Trials support more widespread adoption of innovative approaches, practices and systems on working lands. NRCS and partners collaborate to implement on-the-ground conservation activities and then evaluate their impact. In November, NRCS awarded $25 million for 18 On-Farm Trials projects.  

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