Karen Willey, Baldwin City, recently has been recommended to receive a $7,468.97 grant from the North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (NCR-SARE) for the project “Soil Microbial Responses to Cover Crop Use.”

Through this SARE project, Willey will evaluate the use of soil respiration tests as a simple way for producers to track changes in soil quality with the short-term and longer-term adoption of beneficial land use practices such as cover cropping and rotational grazing.

This grant was awarded as part of NCR-SARE’s Farmer Rancher Grant Program, which is a competitive grant program for farmers and ranchers who want to explore sustainable solutions to problems through on-farm research, demonstration and education projects. NCR-SARE administers each of its grant programs, each with specific priorities, audiences and timelines. The focus for each of the NCR-SARE grant programs is on research and education.

Funding considerations are made based on how well the applicant articulates the nature of the research and education components of their sustainable agriculture grant proposals.

NCR-SARE’s Administrative Council (AC) members decide which projects will receive SARE funds. A collection of farm and non-farm citizens, the AC includes a diverse mix of agricultural stakeholders in the region. Council members hail from regional farms and ranches, the Cooperative Extension Service, universities, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, regional representatives of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and NCR agribusinesses, state agencies, and foundations sit at the table to distribute grant money.