Funded Grants on Diverse Ag Topics

September 16, 2020

Western SARE funding is important for many reasons. It helps researchers develop and test new sustainable farming and ranching techniques. It helps university extension agents and other agricultural professionals get that new knowledge into the hands of producers. And it helps farmers and ranchers conduct their own research on their own land, testing out new practices without betting the farm on the outcome.

There’s another benefit to Western SARE funding as well. The grants awarded each year – especially the Farmer/Rancher Grants – are a good way to know what aspects of sustainable agriculture producers are interested in learning and trying.

This year’s funded Farmer/Rancher Grants are a good example. Most of the 14 funded projects – including a water buffalo project in Hawaii – touch on one of four topics:

*Cover cropping

*Compost application or management

*Rotational grazing, or

*Water conservation

“Being part of the grant process for the first time, it was valuable to see the applications from producers as well as the research and extension communities,” said Clayton Marlow, the Western SARE Interim Regional Coordinator and a range science professor at Montana State University. “You can see more and more producers are recognizing the benefits cover crops and compost can provide to their soil and want to begin integrating those practices onto their farms and ranches.”

Cover crop projects were funded in Oregon, Washington and Alaska; compost-focused projects in Washington, New Mexico and Colorado; rotational or targeted grazing projects were funded in Oregon, Washington, California and Hawaii; and the water-conservation projects were both in Arizona.

Within those projects and broad categories, there is a lot of inventive variation. One, for instance, is looking at integrating dairy water buffalo into a whole-farm system in Hawaii, including developing rotational grazing and training the buffalo as draft animals in taro production. Another is looking at manure composting as one way to reduce internal parasites on organic pig farms.

Other Farmer/Rancher Grants that didn’t fall into those four broad categories include one looking at using fungi to mediate soil-borne toxins, another to study the potential for growing mamaki, a Hawaiian medicinal herb in a small-scale, regenerative manner; and another looking at producing Australian-native “bush tucker” fruits in Hawaii.

In total, Western SARE funded 73 projects in 2020, with a total of $5.7 million. Here’s the breakdown:

*Enhanced State Grants: two awards, $48,031 total

*Farmer/Rancher Grants: 14 awards, $273,763 total

*Graduate Student Grants: 15 awards, $362,767 total

*Professional + Producer Grants: Nine awards, $434,178 total

*PDP State Program: Eight awards, $234,307 total

*Professional Development Program Grants: Six awards, $437,778 total

*Research and Education Grants: 10 awards, $3,3398,337 total

*Research to Grass Roots grants: Nine awards, $542,821 total

“To be able to support that much high-quality research and help make Western agriculture more sustainable environmentally and economically is truly an honor,” Marlow said. “Western SARE is fortunate to have such a rich network of grantees and partners and we look forward to the work all of them are doing to help producers and communities in the pacific and cross the West.”

Read descriptions of each of these projects – and others from previous years.

Topics: Animal Production, Cover Crops, Crop Production, Fruit, Grazing Management, Range Improvement, Rangeland/Pasture Management, Rotational Grazing, Water Management
Related Locations: West