Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Just in

NRCS AWARDS GRANTS FOR CONSERVATION DEMONSTRATION PROJECTS

Boise, Idaho, August 22, 2011 — Six agricultural projects received funding through the Conservation Innovation Grant program from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The program helps accelerate technology transfer and adoption of promising agricultural methods that address natural resource loss on cropland.

“The Conservation Innovation Grant program is designed to demonstrate new techniques that have potential to solve natural resource problems,” said Jeff Burwell, State Conservationist for Idaho NRCS. “By funding these on-the-ground conservation projects, we hope to find creative solutions to common problems that producers can use.”

Idagold Farms received $29,325 to demonstrate a biofuel production project in southern Idaho. The project will show that oilseed crops can provide both a feed crop and biofuel crop without taking the land out of food production.

Hamanishi Farms received $6,497 for using cover crops in mint to address nutrient needs and weed problems in conventional and organic mint production. The project will determine which annual legumes will suppress weeds enough to eliminate herbicide treatments and evaluate available nitrogen supplied by cover crop types.

Jon Fabricius, Hamanishi farm manager said “the grant process helped me think through the project and map out how to do it, including the project’s benefits. That helped me commit to getting the project done.”

The University of Idaho received grants for projects that will develop best management practices as well as demonstrate new conservation technologies.

The University was awarded $21,934 for an on-farm composting trial of grape prunings and manures to enhance soil and reduce waste. Mike Medes, owner of Rocky Fence Vineyard, offered his vineyard as a test location. “There will be three sites to show three different ways of composting the prunings,” Medes said. “I’m looking forward to using the compost. Burning is an easy way to dispose of the prunings but grinding and composting the material will enrich the soil. If the soil is improved the quality of my grapes improves.”

The University also received $74,705 to develop best management practices for insecticide application on dry bulb onions. The integrated pest management practices will improve insecticide effectiveness and reduce pesticide impacts in targeted watersheds.

Another grant of $66,202 will help generate best management practices for dairy operations using zeolite to retain nitrogen in manure while reducing odors, ammonia and air emissions.

A project to demonstrate the use of subsurface drip irrigation as a reasonable alternative to surface or sprinkler systems for corn, alfalfa or grain crops received $10,137.

Additionally, the University of Idaho received national NRCS grant awards for two projects that address air quality issues on confined animal feeding operations.

For the application process, applicants must describe what makes their project innovative; grantees also have to provide matching funds.

For more information on the projects, visit the NRCS web site at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig/projects_fy11.html

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