Challenge Areas


These Challenge Areas form FFAR’s strategic research framework.

Food and agriculture systems are complex–comprised of many interconnected factors. FFAR’s work in each Challenge Area aims to solve large-scale agricultural problems, while understanding broad implications and impacts. FFAR envisions a world in which innovative and collaborative science provides every person access to nutritious, affordable food grown on thriving farms. It is only by working together, through an interdisciplinary approach, that we can achieve this vision.

Soil Health

Sustainable Water Management

Next Generation Crops

Advanced Animal Systems

Urban Food Systems

Health-Agriculture Nexus

Healthy soil is crucial for growing nutritious, affordable food on thriving farms. The Soil Health Challenge Area catalyzes transformative research that addresses knowledge gaps, fuels innovation and enables the adoption of soil management practices. This research explores linkages between soil health and farm productivity, economics, human health, management practices and other areas.


Water scarcity is one of the greatest challenges for 21st century agriculture. Sustainably managing water resources is vital to ensuring farms continue to thrive. Research in this Challenge Area supports increasing water availability and water use efficiency, replenishing ground water, reducing water pollution and developing water reuse and recycling technologies.


Producers need crops that can efficiently produce greater yields with fewer inputs. To address this challenge, FFAR’s research focuses on developing non-traditional crops, creating new economic opportunities for conventional crops and increasing crop diversity and farm profitability. This research advances novel, nutritious, profitable and resilient crops.


Producing nutritious, affordable food on thriving farms requires improving the efficiency of protein production for human or animal consumption. Research in the Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area supports sustainable animal production through innovative technologies, environmentally-sound production practices and advancements in animal health and welfare.


Agriculture is moving from fields to urban environments. The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area enhances our ability to feed city populations. Research in this Challenge Area advances viable solutions to complex problems by looking at multiple aspects of and connections within the food system. This research ultimately aims to reduce food and nutritional insecurity through economically viable and sustainable solutions.


The Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutrition insecurity and improve human health in the United States and around the globe. The Health-Agriculture Nexus research area focuses on increasing access to nutritious foods, reducing food loss and waste, advancing plant and animal production systems for better nutrition and affordability and developing crops with high nutritional value.


Who we are

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research was created as a new model for agriculture research funding through bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, the Foundation builds unique partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges



  • FFAR is looking for a Communications Officer to join our growing team! Are you passionate about improving the food… 30, 2020


Together, we will solve problems like how to pair new ideas with the most relevant technologies, and this will help us all create products that are not just better, but game changing — even life changing.

Fayaz Khazi, Ph.D.
president of Precision PlantSciences

This collaborative research with public and private partners will build on the investments already made in agriculture research so farmers like me can see the return on those investments through improvements in plants in our fields.

Pam Johnson
National Corn Growers Association past president, FFAR Board Member

Rijk Zwaan is keen to actively contribute to the world’s food supply and stimulate vegetable consumption. Joining the Crops of the Future Collaborative, with leafy vegetables as one of the focus crops, can help us achieve this mission.

Kees Reinink, Ph.D.
Managing Director of Rijk Zwaan