This week, CSANR released its annual BIOAg Program request for proposals for new research and extension projects. The RFP can be found here.
This competitive grant program is the key mechanism that CSANR has to engage a broad, interdisciplinary spectrum of WSU faculty in projects that further the development, understanding, and use of biologically intensive and/or organic principles, practices, and technologies to improve the sustainability of agriculture and food systems in Washington State.
Over the past 8 years, this program has supported dozens of faculty and students in conducting more than 100 projects focused on a variety of challenges ranging from food safety in organic production to biocontrol strategies to the impact of farm practices on the nutritional content of food. Furthermore, our affiliate scientists have worked on virtually all the agricultural systems of interest in Washington from tree fruit and dryland grains to diversified produce and livestock production. You can read more about the specific projects we’ve funded in our grants database.
We have generally considered any proposal on a topic relevant to organic and sustainable agriculture, but we also usually identify one or more “topics for special consideration” in any given RFP. Our Advisory Committee, comprised of producers and other leaders in Washington agriculture, give guidance and direction for annual priority setting and contribute to the selection of projects to fund. This year, we have emphasized “soil quality” as the topic for special consideration for the second year in a row. This has been a topic of tremendous interest across many agricultural systems in the region and a great opportunity for your land grant institution to engage and support the development and application of new knowledge across systems.
BIOAg has become an extremely competitive program. Last round, we were only able to fund 22% of the proposals submitted, and unfortunately there were a lot of fantastic ideas left unfunded. One key factor consistent among the best proposals is the quality of interaction employed between scientists and farmers (or other food and agricultural leaders) to identify research challenges and/or strategies. Furthermore, the quality of the partnership between scientist and farmer is an increasingly important consideration in securing funding from regional and federal research programs.
If you have an idea or a persistent challenge that you think deserves consideration, I would encourage you to reach out to your land grant institution to find a scientist that might be able to help. The CSANR Program Faculty and Leadership Team are strategically selected in order to provide a connection to the relevant scientific expertise distributed throughout the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences and WSU Extension. Send one of us an email or give us a call to explore your idea.