WILLMAR — Minnesota corn farmers and researchers have until Jan. 15 to submit a proposal to be part of the 2021 Minnesota Corn Innovation Grant Program to promote conservation, sustainability and profitability on the farm.

Launched in 2016, the program provides farmers $7,000 toward the development of a concept or best practice that could be replicated by Minnesota’s farmers.

Originally focused on nutrient management, the program’s focus has expanded to new uses for corn and corn co-products, improved nutrient use efficiency, comparative tillage innovations, economic and management innovations and production practices that enhance water quality, according to the announcement from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association.

To date, the program has invested more than $700,000 in 37 original projects identifying practical innovations. In the first five years of the program, projects have included novel approaches to cover crop systems, state-of-the-art drip irrigation for spoon-feeding nitrogen and evaluating variable-rate nitrogen programs and more.

“The Innovation Grant Program has grown over the years to match the forward-thinking mindset brought by corn farmers to every aspect of their operation,” said Maciej Kazula, research director from the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, in the news release. “The research carried out by farmers next year through this program will identify the novel ideas that could help all farmers, greatly benefiting our ag sector.”

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Besides the $7,000 grant for the one-year study, replicated trials may also be funded at up to $30,000 per year, but must include a statistical design and analysis protocol in the proposal.

Up to $15,000 in funding is also available to post-secondary research faculty to test an innovative or novel scientific approach or develop preliminary data to leverage greater funding concerning one of the previously identified priorities. Criteria and expectations for each of the proposal levels are available within the request for proposals.

The Innovation Grant Program is made possible through corn farmers’ investment in the Minnesota corn checkoff.

Projects must be applied for and conducted by an active Minnesota corn farmer subject to the Minnesota corn checkoff. Visit mncorn.org/research to download the 2021 RFP and apply online before 3 p.m. Jan. 15.