Desert Ag Small Grants Program 

The Desert Ag Small Grants Program, one of several ways YCEDA supports research and technology development and implementation, provides rapid funding for short-term projects addressing the desert agriculture industry.

YCEDA is a public-private partnership between the University of Arizona and the desert agriculture industry with a mission to solve the pressing problems of desert agriculture crop production. Our organizational structure provides us with unique agility to rapidly respond to urgent research priorities of the industry. Our goal is to move projects forward and provide usable results to the desert agriculture industry. We do this by identifying industry-relevant research priorities, identifying appropriate funding sources to address those priorities, developing collaborative relationships to address high-priority issues, assisting in research proposal development, providing close oversight and support for grant-funded projects, and providing exposure and utilization of research results. 


Project Types and Duration

The YCEDA Small Grants Program provides funding to support two types of projects:

  1. Preliminary applied research in support of a future grant program application
  2. Proof-of-concept of a new agricultural application for new or existing technology

Projects will be a maximum duration of one year and must directly benefit the desert agriculture industry. Priority will be given to projects addressing the following issues identified as high-priority by the YCEDA Advisory Council:

  • Disease Management
  • Food Safety
  • Soil Health
  • Agricultural Mechanization
  • Irrigation and Nutrient Management


Available Funding

Up to $10,000 of new funding is available each quarter. Applicants may request a maximum of $10,000 per project from YCEDA. Supplemental funding may be available for University of Arizona CALS researchers. Contact the small grants program for information.


Eligibility and Requirements

  • Must directly benefit the desert agriculture industry
  • Short-term project (may not exceed one year)
  • Only one project per principal investigator will be accepted each quarter
  • Unsuccessful proposals may be resubmitted if reviewer feedback is addressed
  • Submission of at least one stakeholder letter of support
  • One-page final report submitted within thirty days after project completion


Proposal and Submission

To be considered for funding, proposals must contain the following:

  1. Abstract for a lay audience (250 word limit)
    • If funded, this section will be published online. 
  2. Project Narrative (2 pages)
    • Background
    • Significance
    • Approach
    • Expected Results and Next Steps
  3. Budget and Budget Justification
    • personnel, supplies, and domestic travel allowed 

Submit proposal and required materials via email at


Due Dates and Review Process

Proposal evaluation will begin on the first day of each quarter (January, April, July & October). Proposals submitted to by 11:59 pm MST on the last day of each quarter will be evaluated the following quarter (e.g. proposals submitted between January 1 and March 31 will be evaluated in April). Proposals will be reviewed first by an ad hoc scientific advisory committee followed by a stakeholder review panel. The stakeholder panel will make the funding decisions. YCEDA staff will not make funding recommendations or decisions. Decisions are made quickly, and funds are often available within the quarter.


Project Development

The YCEDA Small Grants Program is one of many ways to participate in desert agriculture research. Staff are available to discuss ideas, advise on project development and industry and academic collaboration. This does not require researchers to have direct involvement with YCEDA as a research partner or funding source. We facilitate advancing any project that meets the research needs of the desert agriculture industry.


YCEDA Small Grants Program Supporting Partners:

University of Arizona CALS Research
Arizona Crop Improvement Association