Flint District Selected to Lead Innovative Project

Flint District Selected to Lead Innovative Project

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) recently announced awards for the 2017 cycle of funding for the Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) Program. The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, based in southwest Georgia, will lead one of 33 projects selected nationwide for funding. CIG is a competitive grant program administered by NRCS that advances the development and implementation of conservation-driven technologies and practices.

Flint River Receives District of the Year Award

Flint River Receives District of the Year Award

The Georgia Association of Conservation Districts (GACD) recently held their annual meeting at Lake Lanier Islands in Buford, Georgia. The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, comprised of 9 counties in southwest Georgia, received the distinguished honor of being named District of the Year. The District of the Year award was established by GACD in 2001 to recognize the conservation district in Georgia which best plans, implements, and reports a conservation program during the year. 

FLINT DISTRICT SELECTED TO LEAD $3 MILLION TRI-STATE CONSERVATION PROJECT

FLINT DISTRICT SELECTED TO LEAD $3 MILLION TRI-STATE CONSERVATION PROJECT

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced recently the selection of 88 locally-led conservation projects across the United States through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District, comprised of 9 counties in southwest Georgia, was selected to lead a project focused on strengthening climate resiliency for farmers and landowners in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.

District Names New Urban Coordinator

Welcome to the Flint River SWCD team, Abby!

Abby Barber is the District's new Urban Program Coordinator, based in Albany, Georgia.

Abby Barber is the District's new Urban Program Coordinator, based in Albany, Georgia.

The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), through its recently awarded grant from the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD), has named an Urban Program Coordinator to lead our new urban agriculture conservation initiative in Albany, Georgia. Abby Barber, a southwest Georgia native, has been working in communities in South Georgia for the last several years to educate people on the importance of local food and strong community support of food systems. Abby’s vast experience with a diversity of urban farms and sustainable agriculture, along with her passion for her hometown community, made her a natural fit for the District. She has already hit the ground running to build an impactful community project centered around local food, conservation, and sustainability.  

The Flint River SWCD submitted a proposal earlier this summer to NACD’s Urban Agriculture Conservation Grant Initiative. The initiative, in partnership with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, aims to increase and stabilize technical assistance capacity where the land is predominantly urban or urbanizing. The District’s new urban project will aim to help urban farmers, community gardens, and other local agricultural partnerships implement conservation practices that support local food production, provide opportunities for education and stewardship, and protect natural resources.

We are so excited to see where this project leads and look forward to future opportunities of expanding this initiative throughout other urban communities. 

 

Connecting the Farm with the Future of Agricultural Telemetry

The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District continues to follow the cutting-edge path of agricultural innovation for conservation-driven solutions to natural resource challenges. With other pilot projects currently in progress, we have partnered with an innovative start-up company based in Dallas and London Nwave Technologies

Advanced irrigation scheduling is a key component of the District’s water conservation efforts, and many of our projects focus on ways to increase accessibility, lower costs, and boost widespread adoption of this tool. The highest cost for a soil moisture sensor is related to the telemetry and transmission of the data to a server that allows the data to be accessed by the farmer or consultant. Precision Agriculture telemetry requires connected sensors to be able to send small amounts of data over long distances using very little power. Existing wireless communications technologies like WiFi and Bluetooth LE are low power, but their range is very limited. On the other hand, there is mobile technology, which is long range, but power-hungry and inefficient for small packet transmission. 

Nwave’s low-power wide area network (LPWAN) communications technology and hardware was designed specifically to transmit small data packets from sensors, at long range using very low power. Using Nwave’s technology devices can transmit data securely over distances of 10-30 miles in rural areas, with power usage so low that they can operate on a single battery for up to 10 years. This significantly reduces both Capex and Opex for large-scale deployments, opening up vast opportunities for irrigation optimization and yield forecast.

The capacity for this type of technology to be integrated into existing soil moisture sensing systems that are part of our current projects is critical to our long-term conservation objectives. A telemetry range of 10-30 miles would make a significant and positive impact on our sensor networks, allowing our partner team to have more sensors per base station. This year’s pilot project has sensors and Nwave communications technology installed at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Peanut Research Lab (NPRL) in Dawson, Georgia and in Colquitt, Georgia near our Spring Creek project sites. Sensors are installed in fields located anywhere from approximately 3 – 15 miles away from the base stations. 

Universal design of Nwave’s Agricultural Data Logger provides easily configurable interface to read data from any digital or analog sensor on the market. This feature allows researches do simultaneous data acquisition from numerous sensors and benchmarking their performance in the same field environment.

Research groups at the NRPL and University of Georgia are evaluating live data and working with Nwave and the District to determine the route for wider adoption of this technology on irrigated landscapes. 

We appreciate the opportunity to work with Nwave and pursue innovation that will benefit both farmers and the environment. 

Urban Agriculture Conservation

Urban Agriculture Conservation

The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) was awarded $50,000 to build technical assistance capacity for urban agriculture conservation projects on Sunday, July 17, by the National Association of Conservation Districts. NACD granted a total of $2 million to Flint River SWCD and 41 other districts across 25 states.

Education Grants

Education Grants

One of the highlights of our year has been working with local teachers who were awarded our first Environmental and Agricultural Education Grants. The District received stellar proposals from all over southwest Georgia, and selecting the winners proved to be a major challenge as all the projects were thoughtful, creative, and experiential. 

2016 Wildlife Shows

2016 Wildlife Shows

Each year, the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District partners with the Georgia Southern University Center for Wildlife Education to bring wildlife to the classroom in local southwest Georgia schools. This year, the District sponsored shows at Terrell Academy, Pataula Charter Academy, Pelham Elementary School, and Shiver Elementary School. 

2016 Soil Stewardship Week Poster Contest

2016 Soil Stewardship Week Poster Contest

The Flint River Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce the 2016 Soil Stewardship theme: “We All Need Trees”. Soil Stewardship Week will be officially celebrated April 24 to May 1, 2016, and is a fun and educational learning experience for all students! Soil Stewardship Week helps remind each and every citizen of the power of each person to conserve natural resources and improve our world. This year marks the 61 st Anniversary of NACD Soil and Water Stewardship Week!

FRSWCD SPONSORS EDUCATION GRANTS

FRSWCD SPONSORS EDUCATION GRANTS

The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), a local agency dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of natural resources, has announced that it will award up to $2,000 available in grant funds through an Environmental & Agricultural Grant for K-12 schools located within the District’s nine counties. The purpose of the grant is to promote conservation education in local schools and provide additional resources for an educator to teach students about agriculture and/or natural resources in a creative way.

NEW ERA OF CONSERVATION BEGINS FOR GEORGIA’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS

NEW ERA OF CONSERVATION BEGINS FOR GEORGIA’S FARMERS AND RANCHERS

State Conservationist Terrance O. Rudolph of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Georgia and Chairman Marty L. McLendon of the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District announced today an October 16, 2015 application deadline for farmers and ranchers who are in either of the District’s two Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project areas. 

Soil Health Workshops

Soil Health Workshops

Managing for soil health is one of the most effective ways for farmers to increase crop productivity and profitability while improving the environment. Positive results are often realized within the first year, and last well into the future. On August 25 and 26, the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District hosted workshops in Dawson and Americus, Georgia to emphasize the critical nature of soil health for both agriculture and the environment.

Conservation through Innovation

Conservation through Innovation

On July 8, 2015 the University of Georgia Stripling Irrigation Research Park and Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District hosted a joint Field Day and Regional Technology Conference. Nearly 150 people attended the event in Camilla. Speakers included researchers, scientists, graduate students, and state leaders. The purpose of the event was to highlight the innovative research conducted at the UGA Stripling Park as well as new and emerging conservation-driven technology practices. Covering a diverse spectrum of topics, attendees learned about new irrigation tools, the latest UGA Research trials, and conservation programs from the day’s presenters, which included UGA faculty and graduate students as well as government and industry representatives.

RCPP Signing Ceremony

RCPP Signing Ceremony

On May 7, the Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District and USDA-NRCS hosted a signing ceremony for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center in Columbus, Georgia. USDA-NRCS and District leaders gathered to mark the beginning of the Flint District’s national RCPP initiative for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, which spans Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. 

2015 Natural Resources Conservation Workshop

2015 Natural Resources Conservation Workshop

Over $18,000 in college scholarships, back-to-nature field trips, and a true taste of college life will be on the line for students who attend this year’s Natural Resources Conservation Workshop (NRCW) on June 7-11 at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. The NRCW targets students with a desire to learn more about Georgia’s natural resources and the opportunities and responsibilities these resources provide. Experts from universities and local, state, and federal natural resource agencies will provide students with lectures and hands-on activities to enhance their understanding of Georgia’s vital natural resources.

WILDLIFE SHOWS

WILDLIFE SHOWS

The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District partnered with the Georgia Southern Center for Wildlife Education again this year to bring conservation (and critters) to the classroom. Students throughout the Flint River District counties had the exciting opportunity to connect with nature and experience wildlife through this educational program. Steve Hein and Scott Courdin from Georgia Southern introduced the students to birds of prey, reptiles, and insects many children (and adults!) do not have the opportunity to see in the wild.

FLINT RIVER SWCD TO LEAD TWO RCPP PROJECTS

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack formally announced project selections for the new USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) on Wednesday, January 14. The Flint River Soil and Water Conservation District’s national and state projects are among the final projects selected for funding. The District looks forward to a collaborative effort among the three states of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia to conserve our shared natural resources within the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin for the national RCPP project. The state project will enhance ongoing efforts in the Lower Flint River Basin to optimize irrigation water management and agricultural water conservation.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program was authorized through the 2014 Farm Bill. The official USDA press release is below:

Agriculture Secretary Announces Funding for 115 Conservation Projects in 50 States -- Farm Bill Initiative Marks New Era for Conservation efforts