USDA Awards Conservation Grants to Improve Water Quality

Four projects designed to improve Wisconsin agriculture and water quality were among 45 innovative conservation initiatives that will be funded to the tune of $26.6 million by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Public and private grantees will provide matching investments, bringing the total value of support to $59 million. The investment is made through USDA’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) program, which fosters innovation in conservation tools and strategies to improve things like on-farm energy and fertilizer use as well as market-based strategies to improve water quality or mitigate climate change.

The 2016 projects focus on water quality, conservation finance and assistance to historically underserved USDA customers. Approximately 25 percent of the funding will go to projects that benefit historically underserved producers, military veterans, and new and beginning farmers.

The Wisconsin projects are:

  • $496,734 to the University of Wisconsin for a project to improve nutrient management plan (NMP) implementation by integrating pollution and general liability insurance-based incentives. UW plans to partner with the insurance industry to provide a significant market-based financial incentive for professional manure applicators to improve NMP implementation through a third party verification of compliance.
  • $1,165,411 to promote continued improvement in agricultural productivity, soil health and water quality. Discovery Farms programs of the two states are partnering to provide the tools for farmers and farm advisers to diagnose and treat fields with high nutrient losses through tile drains, and to understand the link between tile drainage and soil health.
  • $400,912 to Practical Farmers of Iowa to test a new model for conservation adoption for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin farmers to increase the number of acres of small grains grown as a third crop in the corn and soybean rotation.
  • $556,868 to Water Resources Monitoring Group, LLC, for hydrologic monitoring in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Watersheds. Water Resources Monitoring Group proposes to address challenges identified in prior testing, enhance the capability of the hardware, and evaluate the new prototype hardware under varying field conditions.

A full listing of this fiscal year’s selected projects is available at

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