Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday that Iowa will be involved in four of 33 Conservation Innovation Grants.
One of the grants that involves Iowa will go towards a multi-state Conservation Technology Information Center. The center will focus on providing information to expand on the benefits that cover crops can provide. The economic benefits to landowners, the environmental benefits that can accrue, as well as the crop production and ag management benefits that accrue from cover crop production, said Vilsack.
Cover crops can be grasses or small grains that are planted between the primary crop production times to protect the soil. Researchers from Iowa will use the $482,000 given to the center along with fellow researchers from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota and South Dakota.
A companion project at the University of Tennessee will take a longer-term look at the impact of cover crops. Iowa State University received a grant of $485,850 to study different mixes of cover crops and how they can use up excess nitrogen in the soil. Iowa will also be involved in a Environmental Defense Fund project that won $992,000 grant to study how to decrease nutrients that run into the Mississippi River, the Western Lake Erie Basin and elsewhere.
The final Iowa project involves the Women, Food and Agriculture Network’s effort to increase soil health practices among women who own farmland. Vilsack said each of the projects will provide valuable research.
To learn more about these projects, check out the USDA’s website.