The 2019 request for proposals (RFP) for research related to clean water in agricultural areas of the State closed April 12, 2019. The goal of the RFP was to fund research that improves water quality in Minnesota by evaluating and promoting agricultural practices and technologies.


All questions submitted are listed below with answers.

We were awarded funding in the last MDA Clean Water Research RFP that closed in November 2018.  Is that a disadvantage for us if we apply for the currently open RFP?

Each RFP is independent and reviewers rank proposals based on their merits following guidance outlined in the RFP document. There is no disadvantage.

Is Priority #2 a one-year project?

Yes we ideally would like Priority # 2 to be addressed in a one year time frame.

I am planning to submit two proposals, each focusing on a different priority.

We will be glad to get two proposals from you. The proposals are independently scored by our team of reviewers.

On page 5, it mentions the Technical Information part of the proposal as being 22 pages long, single spaced.  Is that a typo?

The 22 page limit includes items “a” to “f”, and covers the technical proposal, the cost proposal and the capabilities of the PIs (CVs).

What motivated the MDA’s interest in such a guide?  What is the target audience, and how do you anticipate that they would use it relative to all the other information that is already out there on cover crops?

The MDA was motivated to develop this guide to address questions about the cost of establishing and maintaining cover crops specifically in Minnesota. We know the uncertainty around cost (and the cost in general) is a barrier to adoption. We hope that this guide can help to answer questions and complement the agronomic and technical information related to cover crops. We know there are many resources related to cover crops, however, feedback from stakeholders suggests that much of that information is out of date or not specific to growing conditions in Minnesota. Our target audience is farmers, crops advisers, the farm business community, soil and water conservation districts and other natural resource practitioners.

Are you picturing that the project would collect more cost and impact data, or just work with existing data?

Our initial thought is that the researcher would use existing data, although additional analysis may need to be conducted. Also, an overview of data gaps could be included in a report.

How to measure and describe the crop yield and other impacts of cover crops?

We envision the researcher would refer to recent agronomic research conducted in Minnesota. This may include information from empirical research, on-farm demonstrations, and farmer-led field trials gathered from peer reviewed publications, white papers and interviews. One could separate short term impacts (Yield impact, seeding cost, termination cost, learning cost) and long term impacts (Soil health improvement, soil resilience, erosion reduction, etc).

How to estimate and value soil loss in a given farm situation?

The researcher should propose a method that is accepted in the economic/research community. One example is the RUSLE equation or some geomorphology/Soil based model.

Variability farm-to-farm and year-to-year – how much data is enough?

Variability is always a concern, however regional averages that capture expected results in different areas of the state are expected. Key factors for variability should be identified and discussed. Case studies are a useful tool as well as summaries of existing programs.

How many scenarios are feasible to include in a “comprehensive” guide, considering:

We do not have a specific number; it should represent the work done in Minnesota and include costs that are relevant and useful for farmers, conservation technicians and other practitioners.

What are you thinking about the role of a publication vs. an electronic decision tool to address the many possible scenarios? 

We are open to both options; our priority is a guide that is accessible to the agricultural community and easy to use, such as a publication that is accessible online (with ability to be updated as new data/cover crop projects become available).  We would envision the outcome will tie in with other activities related to cover crops, including activities through the Midwest Cover Crop Council, activities through the Minnesota Office of Soil Health or other ongoing initiatives.

Is it possible to get the various attachment forms, as well as cost proposal and budget pages of the RFP, as a Word document?

We need two separate documents: 1-The Technical Proposal, and 2-the Cost Proposal. Please make sure the total page count does not exceed 22pages for everything included.

Would you please expound on Priority #4 Innovative Nutrient Management Strategies? I am interested in what the scope of this priority is and at what scale?

This research priority is purposely defined in broad terms. Any proposed strategy however needs to be cost efficient and have the potential to significantly improve agricultural water quality in Minnesota if adopted.

Would the support letters from producers and stakeholders who would be benefitted from this research add value to the project?

I can't say if it will add value or not because it will depend on the reviewers. However, as you know from the RFP document, support letters are not one of the categories that contribute to the overall score. If you intend to add such material, make sure the total page count is 22 pages as stated in the RFP guidance. Therefore, if you add supporting material to the technical proposal, please make sure that total page count for the Technical proposal + Cost proposal does not exceed 22 pages (including CVs).

I just want to know if the 4 page limit also includes PI and Co-PI CVs.

The 4-page limit is for everyone included (including the PI and co PIs), and you can think of it as a shortened version of the resumes.

What needs to be in the cost proposal? Does it need to include a budget justification/narrative? The main things I see are the cost proposal cover sheet and budget table.

No budget justification is needed in the cost proposal. However, you need to include a brief description of each expense to help the reviewers.