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ALBUQUERQUE, NM – USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in New Mexico is accepting applications for Conservation Innovations Grants (CIG) to fund innovative ideas for conservation strategies and technologies. New Mexico NRCS will provide up to $49,000 in CIG funding for fiscal year 2018. Grant proposals are due May 11, 2018.

"Conservation Innovation Grants play a critical role in developing and demonstrating new methods to help agricultural producers conserve natural resources, improve NRCS technical assistance, and strengthen local economies," said Kristin Graham Chavez, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs. "Today's announcement supports our efforts to help producers build economically-strong and resilient farms and ranches by promoting innovative approaches and disseminating conservation information to as many producers in the state as possible."

The NRCS uses CIG to work with partners to accelerate transfer and adoption of promising technologies and approaches that address some of the nation's most pressing natural resource concerns. This year, NRCS is focusing funding in these areas:

• Grazing Lands: Helping livestock producers make grazing management decisions, encouraging prescribed burning as a grazing management practice, and improving access to conservation planning tools used for developing grazing management plans.

• Organic Agriculture Systems: Helping organic producers develop innovative cropping and tillage systems, edge-of-field monitoring, crop rotations and intercropping systems.

• Soil Health: Supporting both cropping and grazing systems, in a variety of climatic zones, that incorporate soil health management systems for addressing specific resource concerns like nutrients and availability. Evaluating multiple soil health assessment methods to assist in the development of new soil health indicators and thresholds.

Potential applicants should review the announcement USDA-NRCS-NM-CIG-18-001 available at www.grants.gov, which includes application materials and submission procedures. All U.S.-based entities and individuals are invited to apply, with the sole exception of Federal agencies.

CIG is authorized and funded under the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Projects that are eligible for EQIP funding through the state EQIP sign-up are not eligible for CIG funding. CIG projects can last up to three years.

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