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NRCS Announces $4.4 Million Award for On-Farm Conservation

TNC and public and private partners are working alongside farmers for healthier soils.

  • Dr. Hannah Birge
    Director of Water and Agriculture
    The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska
    Email: hannah.birge@tnc.org

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) announced today that The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska’s project, “Resilient Futures for Nebraska Soil,” was selected for a Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP) in the amount of $4,419,304.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

The five-year award from NRCS, matched by companies in the agricultural supply chain, will provide farmers in central Nebraska with technical and financial assistance as they adopt soil health practices on an estimated 100,000 acres. “We know that healthy cropland soils boost fertility, improve water quality, and stabilize global climate,” said Dr. Hannah Birgé, Director of Agriculture for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. “This project will leverage private and public resources to amplify the good work of Nebraska farmers as they scale up soil health practice adoption.” 

“Soil health is critical to keeping Nebraska’s farm and ranchland productive and profitable,” said NRCS Nebraska State Conservationist Craig Derickson. “We are excited to work with The Nature Conservancy and other partners to help improve soil and natural resources in Nebraska.”

The Upper Big Blue and Central Platte Natural Resources Districts are partners in the project. “This project exemplifies the importance of teaming up with the public and private sectors to bring greater resources to bear on our district’s soil health work,” said Lyndon Vogt, General Manager of The Central Platte Natural Resources District. “Area farmers are already experimenting with soil health practices. This collaboration will accelerate their work and spread practices to new operations,” added Marie Krausnick, Water Dept. Manager of the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources Districts.

Eligible producers will have the option of implementing three soil health practices: cover cropping, reduced tillage, and diversified crop rotations. The project will serve as an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium pilot, which connects farmers to private sector payments for soil health practice adoption. The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, while new, provides a way to scale up practice adoption. “Big companies are looking to improve their environmental footprints in measurable and trackable ways, and farmers can improve the environment in measurable and trackable ways when they adopt soil health practices. The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium connects the two and creates a way to pay farmers for their outcomes.” said Debbie Reed, Director of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. “We are excited to ground truth our methodologies through this project with central Nebraska farmers.”

The Nature Conservancy’s application was strengthened by the support of Nebraska Members of Congress Senator Deb Fischer and Representative Don Bacon. “I am pleased that The Nature Conservancy’s Nebraska project was selected for this award,” said Senator Fischer. “This is a good conservation win and an example of how public-private partnerships can work to support Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers in their continued efforts to be good stewards of the land. I look forward to seeing how this award created by 2018 Farm Bill will foster partnerships to benefit farmers as they care for the land and implement soil health practices.”

“Soil health brings people together in amazing ways,” said Birgé. “We are overjoyed with the diverse team that’s come together around a shared vision of healthy soils in Nebraska and beyond.” 

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.