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Press Release

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

Publish Date
A soil scientist writing procedure notes of a soil survey, on a clipboard. Bagged soil samples and duffel bag are within a hand's reach.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to invest $3 million in partnerships to promote research for soil water and data innovations to improve soil inventory, which is part of an ongoing effort to continue providing critical data to the country.

en español 

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2024 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to invest $3 million in partnerships to promote and fund research that informs and improves soil surveys at the national level, which is part of an ongoing effort to continue to provide critical data to the country. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encourages institutions of higher education in the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) network to submit proposals by July 8, 2024.

“For 125 years, Congress has authorized USDA to investigate the soil resources of the United States in the field and laboratory,” NRCS Chief Terry Cosby said. “Congress recognized that states and other partners need soil surveys to support community planning and resource development, protect and improve the quality of the environment, meet recreational needs, conserve land and water resources, and control and reduce pollution. We continue to accomplish this through partnership and collaboration.”  

Each proposal must include significant cooperation with soil survey personnel, such as the National Soil Survey Center research staff or Major Land Resource Area soil survey or regional offices. The proposal’s deliverables and their connection to soil survey must be clearly explained. The work should have national or broad regional application to fill gaps in soil survey databases, provide new approaches to collecting or interpreting soil survey data, and/or address emerging issues in the national research priority areas. The period of performance could begin as early as October 2024 and could extend up to three years. Individual proposals must have a total cost between $50,000 and $500,000.


The fiscal year 2024 research priorities were developed through meetings of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) Research Priorities Committee and in conjunction with NRCS and Soil and Plant Science Division (SPSD) priorities. Proposal topics should address emerging issues within at least one of three nationally relevant areas of soil survey research:

  • Dynamic Soil Properties and Soil Change
  • Methods of Soil Hydrology
  • Expansion of Datasets

More Information

Extra consideration will be given to proposals that include Dynamic Soil Survey research support. SPSD expects to fund approximately $3 million of cooperative research depending on funding availability. Eligibility is limited to institutions of higher education in the CESU network. 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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