Department of Agriculture - USDA seeks sensors and sensor networks that can provide high spatial resolution and temporal monitoring of specialty crops and detect and monitors nutrients, contaminants, gases and pathogens in water, soils and air.
Two solicitations annually. Phase I RFAs are generally released every year in July with due dates in October. Phase II RFAs are generally released every year in December with due dates in February.
The most recent 2017 Phase I solicitation closed October 6, 2016:
Examples of topics in FY18 solicitation include:
i. 8.4 Air, Water and Soils – Page 10 of the RFA
The Air, Water and Soils topic area aims to develop and commercialize technologies and innovations for conserving, monitoring and protecting air, water and soil resources while sustaining optimal farm and forest productivity. Climate variability, natural resources conservation (air, water and soils) and food security are major focal points of this topic area. We encourage new technologies and innovations that will help improve soil; reduce soil erosion; improve water and air quality; enable plant and animal production systems to adapt to changing climatic conditions; and conserve and use water more efficiently. Priority areas are:
1. Water Quality and Conservation
Develop new and improved technologies to optimize water management conservation at both the farm level and at a watershed scale, monitor the quality of surface water and groundwater resources for biotic and abiotic pollutants, including animal manure and pharmaceuticals, develop improved methods for the reuse of waste water, including the remediation and restoration of water resources that impact agriculture and forestry operations, and promote watershed restoration.
Develop improved irrigation technologies for both farming and landscaping applications that will provide more efficient and cost-effective delivery of water and chemicals. Develop new irrigation methods that allow for more efficient use of water including accurate delivery of water to where it is needed.
3. Soil Erosion
Develop better methods for preventing soil erosion by wind and surface water runoff and for monitoring wind erosion and sediment transport.
4. Soil Health
Develop new technologies for measuring soil physical, chemical and biological properties including, but not limited to, soil nutrient content, microbial functional activity related to nutrient cycling, methods to remediate degraded soils and the physical and chemical structure of soil.
5. Air Resources
Develop new and improved technologies to monitor air quality and reduce air pollution stemming from agricultural enterprises, including manures from livestock and poultry production systems.
i. 8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering (Page 21 of the RFA)
The objective of this topic area is to enhance crop production in both conventional and organic systems by creating and commercializing engineering technologies that enhance system efficiency and profitability and that protect crops from pests and pathogens in economically and environmentally sound ways. Projects that promote energy conservation or efficiency in food and fiber systems are strongly encouraged. Engineering projects must describe the system need; design specifications, and functionality and reliability; and cost benefit analysis. Where feasible, describe the testing metrics, experimental design, and materials and methods to collect and analyze data on the metrics.
1. Improved crop production methods or strategies
Enhance the efficiency of crop production by utilizing innovative methods and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting crop plants that optimize inputs and reduce operational costs. Topics may include but are not limited to:
a. Technologies that enhance commercial horticulture production
Projects to improve the competitiveness of U.S. commercial horticulture production including flowering potted plant, bedding plant, cut flower production, seasonal crops, annuals, and perennials.
b. Production, harvesting, and postharvest handling of specialty crops and in organic systems.
Projects to reduce manual labor, maintain quality, reduce food safety issues, reduce waste streams, and select for quality and consumer preference.
c. Cyber-physical systems to support precision agriculture.
Projects that accelerate the integration of cyber-physical systems into precisions agriculture including methods, tools, hardware, and software components.
2. Plant protection against abiotic and/or biotics stresses
Reduce the impact of plant pathogens, insect pests, weeds, and abiotic stresses on crop plants. Topics may include but are not limited to:
a. Improved chemical application technology
Projects that increase product efficacy, worker safety, and reduce off-target drift of applied chemicals.
b. Monitoring, detection, and management.
Projects that provide engineered technical solutions for monitoring, detection, and management of pests and abiotic stresses at the earliest stage of their manifestation. Projects on diagnostics submitted to this area should focus on engineering, not biological solutions.
3. Energy conservation
Develop crop management systems, farm and greenhouse structures, and waste utilization strategies that promote energy conservation and efficiency, including the development of technology for the economic use of alternative/renewable energy resources.
4. Pollinators and crop production
Engineering technologies that address the health and success of domesticated and natural pollinators of economically important crops.