Large Systems Research Grants
ATTENTION: When applying for this grant, please refer to the guidelines in the Call for Proposal and carefully follow the application procedures.
At the core of sustainable agriculture research is the application of a systems approach to research that aims to understand how a complex system functions as a whole, often beginning with a conceptual model. This approach recognizes that agricultural systems are complex and that interaction among components determines characteristics of the system. Further, because of this complexity, agricultural systems need to be studied intact over the long term.
One of the challenges in conducting systems research is obtaining sufficient funding to keep the research team and research infrastructure together over the many years needed to obtain useful and meaningful long-term systems research results. Moreover, as systems research teams analyze and assess results over time, new questions arise that need to be integrated into the long-term systems research protocol and be investigated.
Because of the long-term, research-oriented approach required for systems research, outcome expectations for the Large Systems Research Grant program have been designed to assure effective, appropriate results. Each proposal should have defined research outcomes that contribute in a specific way to the pool of knowledge about sustainable agriculture and systems design. Specific performance targets that include the adoption of new farm practices are not required for systems research projects. However, achievement-of-knowledge outcomes (such as published research findings) are still required.
Large Systems Research Grants are designed to assure research capacity in addition to gaining a near-term result to a specific research question. They are also designed to improve the opportunities for teams to engage in interdisciplinary activities. This ongoing process of research design followed by research activities, analysis and redesign does not fit standard short-term modes of funding common in many grant programs. The Southern Region SARE Program—through its Large Systems Research Grant--hopes to address that funding gap.
Who can apply?
Large Systems Grants are for teams who already have successful agricultural systems research in place but need support to accomplish additional long-term research goals.
What activities are eligible?
Research activities that not only keep the research team and infrastructure together over time but that also allow the teams to analyze and assess results over time, integrating new questions that arise into the long-term research protocol. To determine allowable costs for the funding, refer to the USDA-NIFA Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars, A-21: Cost Principles for Educational Activities, and A-110: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements With Institutions of Higher Education, Hospitals, and other Non-Profit Organization. Refer to additional grant regulations on the USDA website.
What is the funding range and time limits for these grants?
Project maximum is $100,000 per year for three years with opportunity for additional three-year renewals.