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USDA to Invest $3 Million to Support Cooperative Soil Science and Soil Survey Research

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2023 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to invest $3 million in partnerships to promote research that informs and improves soil surveys at the regional level, which is part of an ongoing effort to continue to provide critical data to the country. Proposals from institutions of higher education in the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) network should be submitted to USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) by July 22, 2023.

“For more than 120 years, scientists have been conducting soil surveys, investigations and research,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “We are mandated to keep soil information relevant and available in useful forms to assist our customers—from community planners, to engineers, to farmers and ranchers—so they can make the most informed land use decisions. Collaboration is key as we continue to move the needle on advancing soil surveys.”      

Each proposal must include significant collaboration with soil survey personnel, such as the NRCS National Soil Survey Center (NSSC) research staff or Major Land Resource Area (MLRA) soil survey or regional offices. The proposals’ deliverables and their connection to soil surveys must be clearly explained.    

These priorities were developed through iterative meetings and feedback gathered in conjunction with the 2022 regional conferences of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS). NRCS expects to select at least one proposal for funding from each of the four NCSS regions (North Central, Northeast, Southern and Western). The work should have regional application and fill gaps in soil survey knowledge and databases. Work could extend up to three years. Individual proposals must have a total cost between $50,000 and $500,000.     

Within the NCSS region where the work occurs, proposal topics should:  

  • Address emerging issues such as urban soils, ecosystem services, wetlands/hydric soils, climate, wildfire and/or soil biodiversity and how those topics intersect with ecological sites and soil surveys.  
  • Enhance collaborative efforts between soil survey staff and cooperative research projects with emphasis on practical tools for MLRA staff and use of long-term monitoring and experiment locations.  

More Information  

Extra consideration will be given to proposals that include Dynamic Soil Survey Research Support (targeted towards close collaboration with NSSC researchers).    

All proposals must include a data management plan and all data and deliverables must be made publicly available per USDA regulations.    

Additional information is available in the notice of funding.      

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit usda.gov.

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