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

Grants to USA Nonprofits, For-Profits, Organizations, Private Entities,
IHEs, 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:

06/21/21 11:59 PM ET


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Grants to USA nonprofit organizations, private entities, tribal, local, and state government agencies, for-profits, and IHEs 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 2021, 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 impact but which, for any number of reasons, have not yet been adopted by producers.

On-Farm Trials funding is designed to provide technical assistance and incentive payments to producers to help compensate for 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) impacts of implementing innovative approaches are understood and can be used to inform future NRCS program, policy and science activities.

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. Climate Smart Agricultural Solutions
  3. Management Technologies and Strategies 
  4. Soil Health Demonstration Trial (SHD) 

For more details on program priorities, see pages 5-7 in the Full Announcement document in Attached Files below. 

NRCS also encourages all applicants to engage with and include the participation of Historically Underserved Producers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers in On-Farm Trials projects. Applicants 15 should consider partnerships with organizations that have experience working with Historically Underserved producers and have access to networks of these producers. The definition of Historically Underserved producers is available here:

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 186076

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

The agency expects to make between ten and 25 award(s).

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Award Ceiling: $5,000,000
- Award Floor: $250,000

Term of Contract:

- On-Farm Trials projects may be between 3 and 5 years in duration.
- Applicants should plan their projects based on an estimated project start date of January 15, 2022.


  • City or township governments
  • County governments
  • For profit organizations other than small businesses
  • Native American tribal governments (Federally recognized)
  • Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Nonprofits that do not have a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, other than institutions of higher education
  • Private institutions of higher education
  • Public and State controlled institutions of higher education
  • See RFP and/or Grant Guidelines for full eligibility
  • Small businesses
  • Special district governments
  • State governments

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

- For-profit entities are eligible for On-Farm Trials if their primary business is related to agriculture. Non-profit entities are eligible for On-Farm Trials if they have experience working with agricultural producers.
- 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 applications from partners working in urban agriculture settings. Many of the natural resource priority topics described in this announcement are relevant to urban farm operations.

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 the agricultural or forestry operation as defined in 7 CFR Part 1400.
- Have control of the land involved for the term of the proposed contract period.

Applicant entities identified in the Exclusions database as ineligible, prohibited/restricted or excluded from receiving Federal contracts, certain subcontracts, and certain Federal assistance and benefits will not be considered for Federal funding, as applicable to the funding being requested under this Federal program (2 CFR 200.205(d)).

For funding restrictions, see page 22 of the Funding Announcement.

Pre-proposal Conference:

A webinar for On-Farm Trials applicants is scheduled for May 13, 2021 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Information on how to participate in the Microsoft Teams webinar:

Join on your computer or mobile app
Click here to join the meeting:
Or call in (audio only)
+1 202-650-0123,,878271943# United States, Washington DC
Phone Conference ID: 878 271 943#

A Frequently Asked Question document based on questions submitted during the webinar or submitted to the Federal Awarding Agency Contact will be posted on at least two weeks before the proposal due date.

Pre-Application Information:

Applications must be submitted through the Programs Portal by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 21, 2021.

The agency anticipates making selections in October 2021 and expects to execute awards by January 15, 2022.

Note that there are pre-application requirements (e.g., DUNS Number, SAM registration, NRCS Program Portal access requirements) in Section D. of this Notice of Funding Opportunity (NFO). These requirements can be time-consuming and should be started as soon as possible if an applicant does not already have a DUNS number, SAM registration, or access to the Program Portal.

Any award made pursuant to this NFO will be made to a single entity. An applicant organization may submit more than one application.

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

Additional Information:

News release:

CIG Webinar for NFO Applicants:

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.

Application portal:

Potential applicants may contact NRCS with questions by emailing The email inbox is monitored by multiple people.

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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