2022 Seeding Solutions Request for Applications

Open Opportunity

Grants Management Team

grants@foundationfar.org




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Pre-Application Open: February 2, 2022 at 12:00 p.m. ET

Pre-Applications Due: March 9, 2022 5:00 p.m. ET

NOTE: An approved pre-application with an invitation to submit a full application is required for submission.

Full Application Invitation: May 11, 2022

Full Applications Due: July 13, 2022 5:00 p.m ET

Award Notification: Fall 2022

Anticipated Project Start Date: Early 2023

Download the 2022 RFA

About Seeding Solutions

Seeding Solutions encourages the development of unique partnerships that support innovative and transformative research focused on one of our Challenge Areas or AgMission.

FFAR seeks to award approximately ten meritorious applications, prioritizing those projects that emphasize a commitment to cross-sector partnerships.

To be considered, applications must address and provide solutions to an intractable problem and/or accelerate innovation within FFAR’s Challenge Areas or AgMission.

  • Soil Health: Advanced understanding of what soil health is, how it is measured and how to manage and optimize the sustainable delivery of the ecosystem services which soils provide.
  • Sustainable Water Management: Interdisciplinary, model-based research to optimize crop production while minimizing environmental impacts and enhancing terrestrial water supplies through widespread adoption of advanced agricultural practices.
  • Next Generation Crops: Advanced breeding methods and development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerance for crops grown in organic and conventional cropping systems to increase farmer profitability and environmental resilience.
  • Advanced Animal Systems: Improved animal health, welfare and productivity, antibiotic stewardship and the environment. We particularly encourage research with outcomes relevant to multiple species and/or One Health approaches that incorporate transdisciplinary research relevant to animals, humans and the environment.
  • Urban Food Systems: Elucidation of connections between urban food systems and the urban environment, in addition to the connections between rural and urban communities to improve food and nutritional security, human health outcomes, economic opportunities and food system resiliency through transdisciplinary partnerships.
  • Health-Agriculture Nexus: Systems-level approaches (both technological and non-technological) aimed at reducing food and nutritional insecurity and improving human health in the United States and worldwide.
  • AgMission: Innovative research and integrated data systems to advance knowledge and adoption of Climate-Smart Agriculture practices, focusing on co-design with agricultural stakeholders and understanding enabling conditions for systems-level change.

Applications Guidelines

What are the requirements to apply?

FFAR seeks projects that foster innovation with the potential for transformative impact within FFAR’s Challenge Areas or AgMission. Applications that address the following will receive preference:

  1. Contribute to the goal of sustainable food and agriculture, defined as practices that “satisfy human food and fiber needs; enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends; make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls; sustain the economic viability of farm operation; and enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.” (Food and Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990, Public Law 101-624, Title XVI, Subtitle A, Section 1603).

2. Accelerate innovation within FFAR’s Challenge Areas and AgMission. For this request for applications (RFA), FFAR defines innovation as follows:

•Radical Innovation: Development of new technologies, software, algorithms, methodology, or products with the potential to transform agricultural systems

•Applied Innovation: Application and validation of new or emerging technologies, processes, or management strategies to address significant challenges in food and agriculture systems

•Re-imagined Innovation: Adaptation of existing technologies, processes, or management strategies for entirely new agricultural applications.

3. Address an aspect of the following Challenge Area or AgMission priorities.  We encourage applicants to reach out to the Scientific Program Director of the appropriate Challenge Area or Initiative of interest to hone ideas before submitting a pre-application.

4. Demonstrate fully integrated partnerships with different sectors (private, non-government organizations (NGO), governments, academia and other stakeholders) such that research outcomes may be scalable and applicable to food and agriculture systems.

5. Serve the public good by making data open and accessible to the public, creating unique economic development opportunities, or contributing to food and agriculture workforce development.

 

Am I eligible to apply?

We welcome applications from all domestic and international higher education institutions, non-profit and for-profit organizations and US government-affiliated research agencies.

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) may apply to the Seeding Solutions program through their home institution or organization.

What do I need to know about this opportunity?

At FFAR’s discretion, we will award approximately $10 million in grants through the 2022 Seeding Solution program. Individual awards will range from $300,000 to $1 million. All projects must have planned durations ranging between 12 and 60 months. Successful projects will receive annual disbursements.

Key budget considerations are noted below, and additional budgetary guidelines can be found on our website. Applicants are encouraged to contact FFAR’s Grant Team to discuss any concerns related to the matching requirements (see Matching Guidelines).

    • All grants require matching contributions equal to or greater than the FFAR funding request. Matching funds must come from a non-U.S. Federal entity.  Excess match will not influence the potential success of an application.
    • Matching funds cannot supplement or supplant preexisting funds for the project. Matching funds must correspond to line items in the full application budget. At least 50 percent of matching funds must be a cash match per FFAR’s definition of cash. The remainder may be an in-kind match per FFAR’s definition of in-kind.
    • A maximum of 10 percent of the total award may be used for indirect costs. FFAR’s indirect cost allotment is not an indirect cost rate applied to the total modified direct costs; instead, it is an overall allotment from the Total Funds Request, also known as the Total Project Costs. This requirement means 90 percent of the total funds requested must go directly to the proposed research.
    • Reasonable budgets work in favor of the applicant. Budgets that are not commensurate with proposed work or poorly justified likely will negatively affect the overall evaluation of the application.
How do I apply?

Applications must be submitted by the deadline date. Click here to access a new application. Once an application is created, you can access it anytime through FFAR’s online Grant Management System. Applications submitted outside of this System will not be considered.

If you are a new user, register for an account by clicking “Create Account” button located under the email address field on the left side of the home page. Once you log in, you may begin working on your application. Please be sure to save your work often by clicking on “Save and Finish Later”. To access a saved application, please do so through your Grant Management Account.

What are the evaluation criteria?

All proposals will be screened for relevance, accuracy, completeness and compliance with FFAR policies. Pre-proposal applications must demonstrate the potential to meet the evaluation criteria. Full proposals then will be evaluated on the following criteria:

Novelty, Innovation and Originality (30%)

  • Does the proposed project innovatively address a challenge related to our food supply or sustainable agriculture?
  • Does the proposal align with FFAR’s Challenge Area priorities?
  • Does the proposal challenge an existing paradigm(s) in food and agriculture science?

Technical Merit and Feasibility (30%)

  • Does the proposal clearly outline the aims and objectives?
  • Does the proposal include appropriately thorough, tractable and feasible methods?
  • Has the principal investigator assembled a qualified research team with access to the appropriate field and laboratory facilities?
  • Does the proposal present a tractable timeline and budget?
  • Does the proposal include adequate risk evaluation and a mitigation plan?
  • Does the proposal include an adequate data management plan with a commitment to public access?

Impacts and Outcomes (25%)

  • Does the proposal adequately describe the potential impact and applied relevance of the research?
  • Does the proposal identify how FFAR is uniquely positioned to fund this project?
  • Does the proposal emphasize scalability and present a plan for disseminating the project outcomes?
  • Does the proposed project provide training for the next generation of scientists?

Partnerships (15%)

  • Does the proposal include and description of the partnership?
  • Does the project present a compelling and novel partnership opportunity?
  • Does the proposal include adequate confirmation of partner commitment(s)?
What are the application components?

Pre-Application Components

  • Project title (up to 250 characters)
  • Key project personnel – name(s), affiliation, expertise, project role
  • Project description
    • What challenge or existing paradigm is the project addressing? (up to 500 words)
    • How will the project address the stated challenge and advance understanding of an understudied research topic or information gap? (up to 500 words)
    • What innovative outcomes will the project generate? Describe how the project will solve challenges to food supply or sustainable agriculture. (up to 500 words)
    • Why is FFAR ideally positioned to fund this project? (up to 500 words)
  • Project timeline
    • Proposed project start date
    • Proposed project duration (in calendar months)
  • Budget
    • Total FFAR funding request
    • Total matching funds (at least 50% of match must be cash per FFAR matching guidelines)
    • Total proposed budget (FFAR funds + matching funds)
  • Funding partners: List any committed or potential funding partners, describe why they are an appropriate source of matching funds, and any prior contact you have had or relationship you have developed with them about this project.

Applications that demonstrate strong partnerships by way of matching from external sources outside the applicant institutions are encouraged. These partners may include but are not limited to the private sector, non-profits, commodity and trade groups, state governments, and others that do not traditionally work in agriculture.

Full Application Components

Required components

  • Project title (up to 250 characters)
  • Key project personnel – name(s), affiliation, expertise, project role
  • Locations of performance
  • Project abstract (up to 500 words)
  • Why is FFAR ideally positioned to fund this project? (up to 500 words)
  • Goals and objectives (up to 500 words)
  • Project description and approach (up to 5000 words)
  • Anticipated outcomes or outputs (up to 1000 words)
  • Data management plan (up to 500 words)
  • Barriers to adoption of the research outcome(s) (Note: FFAR strongly encourages applicants to address social and economic factors in the project design, evaluation processes, and outcomes, where applicable.) (up to 500 words)
  • Organization Assurances
  • Proposed budget
    • Total FFAR funding request
    • Total matching funds (at least 50% of match must be cash per FFAR matching guidelines)
    • Total proposed budget (FFAR funds + matching funds)
    • Budget narrative: Provide a brief overview of the budget by task or objective, in parallel to the approach outlined in the project’s description. Address costs related to personnel, equipment, and facilities, and analytics. (up to 1000 words)
    • Budget justification by year (up to 1000 words)
    • Current and Pending Support Form: complete for everyone listed as P.I. or Key personnel on the project

Required Attachments: Failure to provide these attachments will result in the application’s disqualification.

    • Project Description and References Cited: This should be identical to the Project Description written out in the Full Proposal Application form, but may include graphics, figures, equations, and tables. Please also include up to five pages of references cited, which will not count toward the word limit. (up to 5000 words)
    • Budget Form
    • P.I. and Key Personnel Biosketch: three-page limit per individual listed as P.I. or key personnel in the project
    • Project timeline (by year)
    • Matching Fund Verification Letter(s)

Optional attachments: Applicants can upload any of the following as a single PDF document.

    • Five (5)-slide summary or description of the project
    • Letters of Support: Applicants can provide letters support for the proposed project, especially from matching funders.
    • Graphics, Figures, Equations, and Tables not included in the Project Description: Applicants may upload a PDF document with graphics, figures, tables, or a list of equations to support the research program plan. Five-page limit.
Who should I contact for assistance?

Technical Help Contact

Mon–Fri: 8 AM EST – 8 PM EST, Weekends: 10 AM EST – 6 PM EST

Phone support upon request Mon–Fri: 9 AM EST – 7 PM EST

For questions related to the online submission system, please contact FFAR’s Grant Management team at grants@foundationfar.org.

For questions related to the Seeding Solutions grant program, please contact FFAR’s Grant Team at grants@foundationfar.org.

For questions related to the Challenge Area, AgMission or Programmatic Questions, please contact the appropriate Scientific Program Director:

Soil Health: LaKisha Odom (lodom@foundationfar.org)

Sustainable Water Management: Kathleen Boomer (kboomer@foundationfar.org)

Next Generation Crops: Jeff Rosichan (jrosichan@foundationfar.org)

Advanced Animal Systems: Tim Kurt (tkurt@foundationfar.org)

Health and Agriculture Nexus: Lucyna Kurtyka (lkurtyka@foundationfar.org)

UrbanFoodSystems: John Reich (jreich@foundationfar.org)

AgMission: Allison Thomson (athomson@foundationfar.org)

We only accept scientific or programmatic and grants inquiries by email. We strive to respond to inquiries within two business days, but our response time depends on the volume of questions received and the complexity of the questions asked. Please note that we do not monitor this mailbox on evenings, weekends, or federal holidays.

What are our Challenge Area and AgMission priorities?

Soil Health

The Soil Health Challenge Area aims to increase soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of innovative practices. FFAR believes that strategic soil health research is essential to increasing farmer and rancher productivity and profitability. We support research that provides a better understanding of what soil health is, how it is measured and how to manage and optimize the sustainable delivery of the ecosystem services that soils provide.

While FFAR will not seek to limit pre-applications to specific target areas within this Challenge area, we encourage applications that propose innovations that address the following research topics:

  • Climate resilient soil management practices
  • Assessments of the Soil Microbiome
    • Measurements of microbial processes
    • Investigations of microbial communities at different scales, including spatial, temporal and molecular
  • Soil Enhancing Techniques
    • Alternative Soil Amendments
    • Optimization of Nutrient Use Efficiencies
  • Linkages between farm productivity and soil health
    • Quantitative assessments that demonstrate Soil health practice adoption and their connection to or impact on economic, socioeconomic, and physical health
  • Novel/innovative strategies to address barriers to adoption of soil health practices

Sustainable Water Management

The Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area aims to enhance and protect an adequate supply of healthy natural waters to sustain long-term agricultural production and human/environmental health under shifting climate conditions. FFAR seeks to fund cross-disciplinary research that directly informs decisions related to sustainable water management in agricultural production, fostering broad-scale adoption of advanced management practices.

While FFAR will not limit pre-applications to specific target areas within this Challenge Area, we encourage applications to address the following:

  • Evaluation of potential or unrecognized threats to ground- and surface-water resources
  • Innovation in the designs, techniques, or strategies to advance sustainable water management
  • Development of precision decision tools and modeling systems to support sustainable agriculture and water management in the face of climate change
  • Investigation of how to use science-based information effectively to address stakeholder concerns and effective outreach strategies to increase adoption of conservation management strategies

Next Generation Crops

FFAR supports the advancement of novel, nutritious, profitable and resilient on-farm crops.  There is a strong emphasis on increasing crop diversity and use of new technologies to benefit consumers, producers and the environment. FFAR seeks to fund projects with an emphasis on innovative technologies and environmentally-sound production practices, as well as the discovery and development of new end uses for both conventional and non-traditional crops. We also prioritize advanced breeding methods and development of biotic and abiotic stress tolerance for crops grown in organic and conventional cropping systems with the aim of providing increased farmer profitability and environmental resilience. FFAR is seeking ground-breaking research leading to increasing adoption of innovations across the US food system.

While FFAR will not seek to limit pre-applications to specific target areas within this Challenge Area, we encourage research applications that address any of the following areas:

  • Crop diversification
  • Crop resiliency
  • Accelerated breeding methodologies

Preference will be given to applications that include:

  • Emphasis on how we can increase on farm profitability.
  • Creating additional consumer-based value at the farm level.
  • More multifaceted teams that include economists and soil health. Thinking beyond the primary target and extend that team to include people who are thinking about things from different perspectives.

Advanced Animal Systems

The Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area aims to support innovations and collaborative partnerships that improve animal health, welfare and productivity, antibiotic stewardship and the environment.

FFAR will not seek to limit pre-applications to specific topics within the Advanced Animal Systems Challenge Area. Pre-applications should describe innovative research, coupled with transformative partnerships, with the potential to shift paradigms in livestock production.

Projects that directly involve producers or end-users, with potential for large-scale adoption of results, are highly encouraged.

Urban Food Systems

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area explores areas of innovation with the potential to transform urban food systems to improve food and nutritional security, human health outcomes, economic opportunities, and food system resiliency. FFAR supports innovative, systems-level approaches aimed at creating healthy and equitable food systems. Emphasis is placed on transdisciplinary approaches that take into account the connections between urban food systems and the urban environment, in addition to the connections between rural and urban communities to achieve this goal.

While FFAR will not seek to limit pre-applications to specific target areas within urban food systems, we strongly encourage applications that take advantage of data and infrastructure that spans different sectors to address the following research topics:

  • Increase our understanding of the impact a region’s collective or potential production systems as part of an overall strategy to promote urban health and well being, ecosystem services, or climate variability risk mitigation
  • Technologies and/or interventions that promote food and nutritional security within urban populations, including:
    • Utilizing existing interventions in novel ways
    • Transportation and/or the delivery of healthy and nutritious food
    • Increasing the affordability of healthy and nutritious food
    • Utilizing data across sectors to develop novel solutions
  • Increasing our understanding of a region’s foodshed
  • Systems and technologies that advance the food and agriculture economy within a region, including:
    • Products: regional production, high-value products
    • Circular Economy: food production/system byproducts
    • Urban environment: design/organization to promote economic viability and efficiencies that enhance farmer profitability

Health-Agriculture Nexus

The Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems level approaches (both technological and non-technological) aimed at reducing food and nutritional insecurity and improving human health in the United States and around the globe.

COVID-19 has caused major disruptions across the food system, which affected food security in various communities throughout the U.S.  In the 2022 Seeding Solutions program, Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area is seeking ground-breaking research leading to viable alternative distribution mechanisms to increase efficiency and resiliency of the distribution of and access to affordable and healthy foods, especially produce and protein products.  Projects should take into consideration ecosystem factors needed to provide a viable, scaled solution such as affordability, consumer behavior, material sustainability (i.e., packaging), ability to scale and/or replicate nationally, as well as the social, environmental and economic impacts. Projects that emphasize these food distribution/access issues in underserved population(s) are strongly encouraged.

AgMission

The objective of AgMission is to support research, innovation and data systems to advance knowledge of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices and increase their adoption.  CSA refers to practices that enhance resiliency and adaptation of agricultural lands and production systems as well as practices that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and/or increase soil carbon.

AgMission is a collaboration between FFAR, the US Farmers and Ranchers in Action and the World Farmers’ Organisation and prioritizes research that is co-designed with agricultural stakeholders and engages farmers and ranchers directly. While FFAR will not seek to limit pre-applications to specific target areas, we encourage applications that address the following research areas:

 

  • Identify and quantify the greenhouse gas emissions reductions (CO2, N2O and CH4) from CSA practices in combination with any associated agronomic and economic costs or benefits in specific geographies and production systems.
  • Advance understanding of agricultural production systems that can withstand greater variability in precipitation and greater temperature extremes.
  • Examine and define the social, cultural, educational and/or technological conditions that lead to successful adoption and persistence of CSA practices

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