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 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 to be used to launch a new research program of inquiry
  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 CALES researchers. To determine if a proposal qualifies for supplemental funding from CALES, a project summary and budget must be submitted a minimum of a week before the submission deadline with the request.


Eligibility and Application 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.
  • This funding program will not fund PI salary, indirect costs, large equipment, repairs or maintenance contracts, publication, conference registration, or conference travel.
  • This funding may be available to private companies, but we highly recommend partnering with university researchers.
To be considered for funding, proposals must contain the following:
  • Principal Investigator: Name, Department, College & Contact Information
  • Co- Investigator: Name, Department, College & Contact Information
  • Non-technical abstract (250-word limit): Keep the abstract free from jargon and acronyms so it can be understood by a non-academic audience. This abstract will be published online if funding is awarded.
  • Project Narrative (no more than 2 pages in length)
    • Brief description of the specific aims or objectives
    • Significance & expected outcomes
    • Approach
    • Proposals should incorporate SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) Goals to provide specifics on the project goals in the period of performance.
Additionally, the following documents are required:
  • Stakeholder letter of support
  • 2-Page CV for PI and co-PIs
  • Budget (template)
Submit proposal and required materials via email at



Due Dates and Review Process

Application evaluation will begin on the first day of each quarter (January, April, July & October). Applications 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 1st and March 31st will be evaluated in April). Applications 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.