Published on 11/26/2019

Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN and the Soil and Water Conservation Society Awarded $1.5M from USDA Program Funding to Help Farmers Test On-Farm Innovation

Today, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced recipients of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) under the 2018 Farm Bill Conservation Title. As part of this announcement we received the exciting news that a joint proposal from Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN and the Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) was awarded $1.5 million in funding to work with agricultural retailers in support of innovative new on-farm stewardship practices.
The project, titled Advancing Precision Nutrient and Soil Health Management with Retailer Cooperatives will help four ag retailers in the Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN network set up innovation trial programs for growers to demonstrate, across three years of crop production, the benefits of a full-system approach to precision ag. The program will work with growers implementing a full suite of zone prescriptions, VRT applications, stabilizers, and tillage management in an effort to enhance both profitability and environmental performance. In some cases, cover crops will also be included in the program. In addition to administering the program, SWCS will provide scientific support to help evaluate environmental outcomes. The trials will also use the Truterra Insights Engine to help collect and measure findings.
Together, SWCS and Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN aim to accelerate the adoption of precision nutrient management and soil health practices in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Project partners will support agricultural retailers to engage producers in on-farm trials that demonstrate the agronomic, environmental and economic incentives for conservation practice adoption. Through firsthand experience, the project aims to increase producer knowledge of these practices, integrate conservation management programs into retailer services, and broaden and accelerate conservation practice adoption.
The improved Conservation Innovation Grant program is one of many policy changes in the 2018 Farm Bill championed by Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. Now those policy improvements are making a difference in our work to make on-farm conservation practices easier and more accessible to farmers and ag retailers. 
This is a monumental step in public-private collaboration supporting on-farm stewardship. Utilizing resources and knowledge from across industry, government and NGOs, we are working together to build a system of change that seeks to increase and accelerate the rate of stewardship adoption around the country.
Stay tuned for additional details on the grant and the projects in the coming weeks and months.
About the Soil and Water Conservation Society
For seventy-five years, the Soil and Water Conservation Society has been the premier international organization for professionals who practice and advance the science and art of natural resource conservation. We believe sustainable land and water management is essential to the continued security of the earth and its people. Our goal is to cultivate an organization of informed, dynamic individuals whose contributions create a bright future for agriculture, the environment, and society.