Desert Ag Small Grants Program 

The YCEDA Small Grants Program, one of several ways we support research and technology development and implementation, provides rapid funding for short-term projects addressing 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. YCEDA does not conduct research. We spend the time needed to move projects forward and provide usable results! Our involvement includes 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:

  • AgTech Innovations
  • Food Safety
  • Soil Health
  • Irrigation and Nutrient Management
  • Pest and Disease Management


Available Funding

Up to $10,000 of new funding is available each quarter. Unspent funding will rollover to the following quarter. Applicants may request a maximum of $10,000 per project from YCEDA. Supplemental funding may be available for University of Arizona researchers. Contact Dr. Stephanie Slinski, YCEDA Associate Director for Applied Research and Development, for information on supplemental funding.


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
  • Submission of biosketch for PI
  • 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. Non-Technical Abstract (250 word limit)
    • If funded, this section will be published online. Industry stakeholders are the audience for the abstract.
  2. Introduction (400 word limit)
    • Type 1 projects: Proposal introduction must include a succinct description of the problem that this work will begin to address.
    • Type 2 projects: Proposal introduction must describe the problem that will be addressed and how the technology will benefit the industry. Availability to the industry and economic feasibility must be described with a new technology.
  3. Objectives (200 word limit)
    • List each objective for the project
  4. Method (600 word limit)
    • Briefly describe the project methods
  5. Timeline with milestones (200 word limit)
    • List milestones by quarter
  6. Expected Results and Next Steps (200 word limit)
    • Describe the next steps following completion of this project's objectives
      • Type 1 projects: Include the funding program to which you expect to apply, the focus of the application, and the expected application date
      • Type 2 projects: Describe the steps that must be taken for commercialization, the advantages and expected cost for implementation to the industry
  7. Budget
    • This funding program will not fund PI salary, indirect costs, equipment, repairs or maintenance contracts, publication, conference registration, or conference travel. 
  8. Budget Justification (250 word limit)

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 Jan. 1st and March 31st 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. 


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.