From soil erosion to compaction to weed management struggles, farmers know best what is may be limiting crop production or long-term sustainability in the fields that they farm. However during this period of razor-thin margins farmers may be unwilling or unable to fit the costs of experimenting with new conservation practices into their balance sheets.
If you are a farmer that has an interest in researching sustainable solutions to problems on your farm, the North Central Region – Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education's Farmer-Rancher Grant Program may be able to help.
According to the program's administrators,
"NCR-SARE's Farmer Rancher Grant Program is a competitive grants program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration, and education projects.
Farmer Rancher grants have funded a variety of topics including pest/disease management, crop and livestock production, education/outreach, networking, quality of life issues, marketing, soil quality, energy, and more.
- Farmer Rancher grants are offered as individual ($7,500 maximum), team of two ($15,000 maximum), or group ($22,500 maximum) grants for ideas initiated by farmers and ranchers.
- Projects may last up to 24 months.
- Grants support producers who are protecting natural resources, enhancing communities, and boosting profitability.
- Farmers and Ranchers are exploring innovative marketing of sustainable agriculture projects, in addition to other project topics."
Information about how to apply and lists of projects that have received funding in the past are available online. After December 8, 2016 proposal submission deadline, NCR-SARE expects to fund about 40 projects in the twelve-state North Central Region, awarding a total of $400,000.
Please do not feel that you need tackle the proposal-writing process on your own. Reach out to those that would be happy to help including University of Illinois' SARE-coordinators or Extension Educators.