Technology Solutions Provider, Inc.

Grants Management

Client: Department of Agriculture 

The Challenge

TSPi addressed 2018 Farm Bill requirements for the Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) user experience, program results, and reporting, to support USDA-affiliated farmers facing carbon-related and soil health challenges. The CIG tabs on the NRCS website required additional search functionality, filtering capability, and back-end data storage capabilities. 

Our Approach

Using the latest technology, TSPi developed a flexible, comprehensive CIG database for use by all CIG participants, including on-farm trials and soil health demos. Users can enter updated project results and information while incorporating past and future CIG final reports and project data that is easily accessible to NRCS.  Federal External Affairs employees can use the database to update attachments, success stories, and images without additional software development. To accomplish this, TSPi teamed with Soil scientists and other experts, using design thinking to elicit requirements and improve the user experience. We implemented a Scaled Agile approach, the first implementation for this section of NRCS business, to coordinate dependencies across teams and external trains. TSPi coordinated with Enterprise Architecture to define the target technology stack that aligns with the USDA strategies, using a mix of Drupal, .NET, and SQL. We used incremental deployments to gain continuous feedback with Product Owner engagement and User Acceptance Testing. 


TSPi used an iterative development approach to create a new public-facing website with advanced search capabilities using the Drupal content management system. We improved the user experience for easy consumption, more flexibility, and precision in obtaining project information. The content store removes the need for a lengthy “super spreadsheet”, adding a more robust search functionality and a systematic approach to data collection. In addition, the CIG team included Soil Health Demo Trial functionality to support evaluation of soil health improvements, as evidenced in carbon level testing from Soil Health conservation practices implementation. This project allows for connections to other NRCS applications such as Dynamic Soils Properties, the National Planning and Agreements Database, and National Soil Survey data. Additionally, the newly created Conservation Practices Database links existing references and data sources to conservation practice standards in a more cohesive and user-friendly format for farmers and ranchers implementing these practices. 


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