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Minnesota corn innovation grant program requests farmer-led research

The 2021 Minnesota corn innovation grant program is calling on Minnesota’s corn farmers to submit their ideas promoting conservation, sustainability and profitability on the farm, according to a press release. Farmers and researchers have until Jan. 15 to submit a proposal to be part of the program and lead a research project during the 2021 growing season.

Launched in 2016, the innovation grant program provides farmers $7,000 in funding toward the development of a concept or best practice that could be replicated by Minnesota’s farmers. Originally focused on nutrient management, the program’s focus has grown to accept proposals related to the following:

• New uses for corn and corn co-products

• Improved nutrient use efficiency

• Comparative tillage innovations

• Economic and management innovations

• Production practices that enhance water quality

Entering its sixth year, the innovation grant program has invested over $700,000 in 37 original projects identifying practical innovations that can be replicated by Minnesota farmers. In the first five years of the program, projects have included novel approaches to cover crop systems, state-of-the-art drip irrigation for spoon-feeding nitrogen, evaluating variable-rate nitrogen programs and more.

“The innovation grant program has grown over the years to match the forward-thinking mindset brought by corn farmers to every aspect of their operation,” said Minnesota Corn Growers Association Research Director Maciej Kazula. “The research carried out by farmers next year through this program will identify the novel ideas that could help all farmers, greatly benefiting our ag sector.”

In addition to funding for one-year studies up to $7,000, replicated trials may also be funded at up to $30,000 per year, but must include a statistical design and analysis protocol in the proposal. Up to $15,000 in funding is also available to post-secondary research faculty to test an innovative or novel scientific approach or develop preliminary data to leverage greater funding concerning one of the previously identified priorities. Criteria and expectations for each of the proposal levels are available within the RFP.

The innovation grant program is made possible through corn farmers’ investment in the Minnesota corn check-off.

Projects must be applied for and conducted by an active Minnesota corn farmer subject to the Minnesota corn check-off. Visit mncorn.org/research to download the 2021 RFP and apply online before 3 p.m. Jan. 15.