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Conservation Innovation Fund and AGgrow Tech Announce $1.4 Million Contract with Maryland Department of the Environment for Quantified Nutrient Reduction Initiative

The outcomes-based contract is the first executed under the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Clean Water Commerce Account Program; Maryland farmers to expand regenerative farming practices as part of a ten-year project to reduce nutrient runoff to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed


Conservation Innovation Fund, a non-profit blended finance fund focused on conservation and sustainability, and AGgrow Tech, announced today a $1.4 million pay-for-performance contract from the Maryland Department of the Environment to reduce nutrient runoff to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. On April 4, the Maryland Board of Public Works unanimously approved the project as its first under the novel Clean Water Commerce Account Program that uses a pay-for-performance approach to drive reductions in nutrients that impair water bodies. The initiative enables participating Maryland farmers to expand regenerative farming practices that produce conservation benefits alongside a high-quality bedding product for Maryland’s poultry industry.


Conservation Innovation Fund and AGgrow Tech, a leader in renewable and sustainable agriculture solutions, have partnered with Luthy Farms of Cambridge, Maryland and Tribbett Farms of Denton, Maryland to incentivize production of alternative crops across more than 320 acres of local farmland.  


“Local farmers are stewards of private land, and their land has great potential to provide a valuable public benefit,” said Ashley Allen Jones, Founding Chair of Conservation Innovation Fund. “This first-of-its kind contract embraces an efficient market-based system to pay farmers for the nitrogen reductions derived from growing perennial crops, while supporting supply chain sustainability. It’s a major step forward for our climate smart commodities agenda.” 


The Conservation Innovation Fund and AGgrow Tech contract is part of the Maryland Clean Water Commerce Act (CWCA) of 2021 that allocates funding for efforts dedicated to nitrogen reduction. The ten-year initiative projects to reduce 7,000 lbs. of nitrogen, 70 lbs. of phosphorus, and 80,000 lbs. of sediment runoff annually in support of Maryland’s reduction requirement under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  


Additionally, the initiative estimates direct carbon sequestration of 1 ton per acre annually from crop production, and further dairy sector methane emissions from frequent turnover of poultry bedding in regional production houses. Conservation Innovation Fund will use the USDA’s COMET-Planner software to calculate carbon reductions realized during the next ten years. 


“We continue to look to the Maryland farming community for solutions to improve the environment and water quality,” said Suzanne Dorsey, Deputy Secretary of Maryland Department of the Environment. “There are more than two million acres of opportunity across Maryland’s 12,500 farms. This initiative with Conservation Innovation Fund and AGgrow Tech leverages private resources and market-based approaches to achieve maximum conservation benefits from public resources.”  


Under the initiative, AGgrow Tech, Luthy Farms, and Tribbett Farms will harvest over 2,500 acres of FREEDOM® Giant Miscanthus, a perennial plant that thrives on marginal cropland, is tolerant of drought and excessive rain, and offers the ability to store nutrients in the root system and return organic material to the soil. The cultivation of FREEDOM® supports crop diversification and generates recurring income for farmers. It is a certified cultivar developed and patented by Mississippi State University, with AGgrow Tech holding the Global exclusive license.


“This initiative enables farmers to continue to increase crop diversity and income opportunities across their farms while also improving the environment,” said Travis Hedrick, CEO of AGgrow Tech. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Conservation Innovation Fund to bring this market-based conservation approach to the Maryland farming community.”  


“Since we began working with FREEDOM®, our farm has converted a significant amount of marginal farmland to perennial grass,” said John Luthy, Luthy Farms. "It also allows our farm to eliminate high input costs while supporting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.” “We’re excited about our partnership,” added Dave Tribbett, Tribbett Farms. “We grow FREEDOM® in areas where corn and soybeans won’t grow and produce a crop that provides our farm with cost-effective, high-quality poultry bedding.”



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Conservation Innovation Fund 

Conservation Innovation Fund creates water, carbon, and biodiversity assets that align public and corporate sustainability agendas with regenerative agriculture producers and practices. With the support of public and philanthropic grant makers and mission-oriented investors, Conservation Innovation Fund has created a blended capital pool to expand market-based solutions to address pressing conservation challenges. 


AGgrow Tech LLC

AGgrow Tech is a leader in renewable and sustainable agriculture solutions; and is committed to connecting fields of biomass to various markets. Headquartered in High Point, N.C., with production across the USA, AGgrow Tech’s proprietary technologies and novel business model enable farmers, landowners, and customers to realize the value of renewable biomass crops.

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