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Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials

Grants to USA Organizations, Private Entities, and Agencies
to Assist Farmers in Adopting Conservation Practices

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

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U.S. Department Of Agriculture (USDA) - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC)

Conf. Date:


Deadline Date:

05/29/20 5:00 PM ET Receipt


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Grants to USA organizations, private entities, and local and state government agencies to assist agricultural producers in adopting conservation practices. Applicants are advised that required registrations may take several weeks to complete. Activities must benefit producers who meet the EQIP program’s eligibility requirements.

The purpose of On-Farm Trials is to stimulate the adoption and evaluation of innovative conservation approaches in partnership with agricultural producers. For 2020, NRCS is implementing On-Farm Trials through eligible entities, which in turn work collaboratively with NRCS and agricultural producers to implement innovative approaches on private lands. On-Farm Trials supports the implementation of innovative approaches that have a positive conservation effect but which, for any number of reasons, have not yet been adopted by producers.

On-Farm Trials funding is designed to provide technical and financial assistance to producers to help compensate for any risks associated with implementation of new conservation practices, systems, and approaches. Evaluation is a key component of On-Farm Trials to ensure that environmental, financial, and social (to the extent possible) impact of implementing innovative approaches are captured and disseminated.

NRCS intends to use the results of On-Farm Trials project evaluations and analyses to explore development of new or modification of existing NRCS business practices, guidance documents, technical tools, and conservation practice standards.

NRCS gives priority to projects that implement innovative conservation approaches that are applicable to a range of agricultural operation sizes and types.

The Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHD) component of On-Farm Trials (priority 4 below) focuses exclusively on implementation of conservation practices and systems that improve soil health. Eligible entities receiving SHD awards agree to follow consistent soil health assessment protocols to evaluate the impacts of practice and system implementation. 

On-Farm Trials Priorities:

  1. Irrigation Management Technologies 
  2. Precision Agriculture Technologies and Strategies 
  3. Management Technologies and Strategies 
  4. Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHD) 

For more details on program priorities, see pages 2-5 in the Full Announcement document in Attached Files below. 

NRCS encourages applicants to engage with and include the participation of historically underserved producers and veteran farmers and ranchers in On-Farm Trials projects. In addition, NRCS encourages applicants to consider partnerships with organizations that work with historically underserved producers and veteran farmers and ranchers and have access to networks of these producers. The definition of historically underserved and veteran producers are available at

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 186076

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NRCS anticipates making between 15 and 20 awards.

Estimated Size of Grant:

The maximum amount of a single award under either On-Farm Trials or the SHD is $5 million. The minimum award is $250,000.

Term of Contract:

On-Farm Trials projects may be between 3 and 5 years in duration.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

As defined in the On-Farm Trials statute, eligible entities are limited to—

- Private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture;
- Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with experience working with agricultural producers; and,
- Non-Federal government agencies.

Numerous entity types may qualify under one or more of these categories, including state, county, city or township governments; Federally recognized Native American tribal governments; nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status; and institutions of higher education (private, public, and state run). Institutions of higher education may qualify as either NGOs or private entities whose primary business is related to agriculture.

On-Farm Trials-eligible entities must have access to a sufficient number of producer participants in order to facilitate implementation of On-Farm Trials of conservation practices and systems on private lands. NRCS encourages On-Farm Trials applicants to partner with private sector entities that may provide access to producers without a history of working with NRCS.

Any producer receiving an On-Farm Trials incentive payment must meet the EQIP’s eligibility requirements listed in 7 CFR Section 1466.6(b)(1) through (3):

- Be in compliance with the highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions (7CFR Part 12).
- Be a person, legal entity, joint operation, Indian Tribe, or Native corporation who is engaged in agricultural production or forestry management or has an interest in theagricultural or forestry operation as defined in 7 CFR Part 1400.
- Have control of the land involved for the term of the proposed contract period.

For funding restrictions, see page 13 of the Funding Announcment.

Pre-proposal Conference:

A webinar for On-Farm Trials applicants is scheduled for March 26, 2020 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Step 1: Dial into the conference.

Dial-in: 1-877-369-5243 or 1-617-668-3633
Access Code: 0871869##

Step 2: Join the conference on your computer.
Entry Link: offsite link image

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on May 29, 2020.

Please allow extra time to register in Workspace because there are several preliminary registration steps before an applicant can submit the application. To register, go to, click on “Applicants,” then click on “Get Registered.” If you have completed a prior application, you may already have completed the registration process.

All Non-Federal Entities (NFEs) must obtain a DUNS and register in SAM prior to registering with NFEs are strongly encouraged to apply early for their DUNS number and SAM registration. Information on how to obtain a DUNS number can be found at or by calling 1-866-705-5711. To register for SAM, go to:

A minimum contribution of 25 percent of the total Federal award requested is required in the form of value-added contributions that leverage and complement the potential NRCS investment in each project. Partner contributions may be committed by the applicant, project partners, or both and can be a combination of cash and in-kind contributions.

NRCS anticipates announcing On-Farm Trials and SHD selections through a USDA press release in September 2020. Applicants should plan their projects based on a project start date of January 1, 2021.

News release:

View the March 2019 webinar:

View this opportunity on

For a list of application documents, see the Package tab (press Preview) on the link above.

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

1400 Independence Avenue SW
Room 5242
Washington, DC 20250

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

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