ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Agriculture will award up to $150,000 in 2009 for the Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration Grant Program for on-farm sustainable agriculture research or demonstration projects in Minnesota.

The MDA is now accepting applications for these grants, which are available for three-year projects that promote environmental stewardship and conservation of resources as well as improve profitability and quality of life on farms and in rural areas. Completed applications must be received by MDA no later than Jan. 16.

Examples of eligible projects include fruit and vegetable production, conservation tillage and weed management, integrated pest management, livestock production, organic farming, alternative energy crop production, use of cover crops, or other innovative projects.

MDA Commissioner Gene Hugoson said the grants can help turn a good idea into a new sustainable farming practice.

“Minnesota farmers have a strong interest in adopting new approaches that protect the environment and increase profitability,” Hugoson said. "These grants give our producers the opportunity to pursue these ideas and track the results."

Grant applications are available on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/grants/grants/demogrant.htm or contact the Agricultural Development and Financial Assistance Division at (651) 201-6012.

Since 1989, the MDA has awarded 263 Sustainable Agriculture Demonstration grants. Recent projects include using a high tunnel to increase vegetable production, using an in-line round bale wrapper to seal high moisture round bales for use during the non-grazing season, and aerial seeding winter rye into standing row crops to reduce soil erosion and nitrogen leaching.

These and other grant projects are highlighted in the Greenbook, which is free and available at www.mda.state.mn.us/protecting/sustainable/greenbook.htm or by calling (651) 201-6012.

•••

This article was submitted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.